The last few years have seen the acceleration of a trend that technology already made possible prior to 2020: the rise of remote and hybrid work. A 2022 Gallup survey found that 80% of employees work at least partially outside of a traditional office setting, with hybrid work, in particular, expected to rise from 41% in 2021 to 81% by 2024.
More and more, businesses are shifting toward more flexible workplace alternatives that allow them to save on the costs of bringing in employees full-time.
Employees across industries are embracing the change, with 94% believing that their productivity is the same or even higher when working remotely. And yet, this shift in workplace philosophy has also brought with it some complications that are worth discussing.
Make no mistake—following worker preferences to move toward more remote working arrangements has brought with it plenty of benefits for organizations, ranging from increased productivity to retention, engagement, and even profitability. But at the same time, the value of getting your remote team together for face-to-face work, interaction, and community building cannot be underestimated.
It’s about finding a balance in a hybrid workplace environment that works for everyone. Join us for an in-depth discussion about the continued and rising value of bringing together your team in flexible, physical environments like coworking spaces.
How Face-to-Face Meetings Can Benefit Your Hybrid or Remote Team
Let’s begin with the basics. Regardless of the exact space you choose, getting your team together occasionally for face-to-face interactions can bring significant value to your team members, your productivity, and your profitability. Some of the benefits of face-to-face meetings include:
- More comprehensive, fulfilling communication through nonverbal cues that can reduce misunderstandings and effectively convey emotions.
- Better opportunities for creativity, with in-person collaborative opportunities like whiteboarding or other types of brainstorming that are difficult to achieve in a remote setting.
- The ability to build new and stronger relationships, not just with direct co-workers but with other members of the larger community in the space.
- Socialization, through small talk that can provide a much-needed mental break and satisfies our human need for social connection.
- Limiting distractions in meetings that could pull employees’ focus away from everyone else, decreasing productivity and increasing frustrations.
- Addressing sensitive issues that might be difficult to convey in remote settings, like unfavorable employee evaluations or reports of misconduct.
- Increased participation and engagement among your team members, who will be more compelled to show up for meetings in-person compared to video calls.
But of course, these benefits are not a given. Simply ordering your team to get together will not automatically result in higher workplace satisfaction, engagement, or productivity. Instead, it’s about how you structure your team’s facetime, with a focus on combating the inevitable disadvantages of remote work.
Combatting the Drawbacks of Fully Remote Work for Your Team
The benefits of remote work are undeniable, but it’s important to recognize that this growing trend comes with its own disadvantages. Understanding these disadvantages helps to make the case for continued in-person interactions within your team.
Take the above-mentioned distractions as an example. A recent Microsoft study has found that multitasking has become increasingly ubiquitous during the rise of remote work. But here’s the problem: psychological studies show again and again that our brains are not technically able to multitask. Instead, we will always prioritize one task over others. It’s what Stanford psychology professor Clifford Nass calls being chronically distracted.
Getting your team together in person pulls their focus directly toward each other. Checking emails, sending Slack messages, or performing other work becomes more difficult. More productive meetings mean more engaged employees, with better business outcomes for everyone involved.
In addition, remote work can blur the lines between work and non-work time for employees. It’s more tempting to pick up the phone and call a co-worker with a question on a project you’re tackling, even if that call happens outside of business hours. But if you know that you’ll see the same coworker in person later in the week, the likelihood of waiting until you can discuss the project face-to-face increases.
This lack of boundaries can have a profound impact on your employees, as well. According to one study, 41% of remote workers felt stressed, compared to only 25% of workers in a physical office over the same time period. Furthermore, 42% of remote workers struggled with sleep issues, compared to 29% of those in a physical office.
The Benefits of Community in Building Employee Engagement
But the value of getting your remote or hybrid team together doesn’t solely lie in removing negative aspects. Instead, perhaps the most significant advantage comes in the community you’re able to build when your team meets together. That starts with the above-mentioned need for human social connections.
While remote work has some amazing benefits, research conclusively shows that it also leads to higher rates of mental health issues for employees. As the Society for Human Resource Management outlined earlier this year:
Fully remote (40 percent) and hybrid work (38 percent) are associated with an increased likelihood of anxiety and depression symptoms compared to in-person work (35 percent), according to an analysis by the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit research organization. For its report, IBI analyzed data from the Household Pulse Survey, an online resource created by the U.S. Census Bureau to determine how households were impacted by the pandemic.
Contrast that with the ability to build stronger community bonds among your team members when gathering them together on a regular basis. Getting together allows anyone on your team, from introverts to extroverts, to meet each other, take part in the same discussions, and enjoy each other’s company.
As a result, your team members will begin to feel more connected, not just with each other but also with your organization and the task at hand. They’ll build a natural support network in which they can exchange ideas, get creative, and talk about hobbies when they need a break. The dormant #bookclub Slack channel gets replaced by dynamic conversations that everyone can participate in.
Of course, such relationships aren’t just beneficial for social reasons. Instead, we know that workplace relationships matter for productivity as well. Co-workers who get along inside and outside of work can more easily work together, become more creative, and find more (and better) solutions to any challenges they may face in their daily work life.
Community, in short, is the one thing that’s vital to keep your team together, happy, productive, and engaged while working on a remote or hybrid basis. The mutual trust and rapport your teams can build will pay off significantly for both the team members and your organization in the long run.
How Coworking Spaces Can Provide a Balance Between Remote and In-Person Work
While the benefits are manifold, any value equation also has to discuss the drawbacks which, in this case, revolve around the space you’ll need to bring your team together.
It’s no small expense. According to some estimates, companies can save around $11,000 per employee that switches from in-person to remote work. Simply keeping your large office building open and on lease every day for the occasional in-person get-together is unlikely to be a financially beneficial decision.
That’s where coworking spaces enter the equation. Find the right coworking space, and you get the best of both worlds—a flexible, scalable space that can host your teams together as needed, regardless of their size. These spaces tend to come fully furnished and are adaptable to different needs, making them a great choice for almost any hybrid work environment.
Crucially, coworking spaces also play a major role in building community. You’ll find common areas, outdoor spaces, and more social spaces that will allow your teams to get to know each other better in between meetings. And because they’re hubs for other companies as well, connections can extend beyond your own team to networking and community building on a broader scale.
That’s how getting your team together can bring tangible value to both individual team members and your organization as a whole. You can build engagement and productivity in a community setting, without sacrificing flexibility.
Embrace Community With the Right Coworking Space
Of course, not every coworking space is created equally. You need to find one that matches your organization and team’s needs. That space has to feel like home, with a warm and casual atmosphere that lends itself to building community. Flexibility matters just as much in getting your team together to make an impact.
For the Austin, Texas area, that space could be Vuka. Our two coworking spaces bring holistic member benefits that extend to everyone. In our nurturing environment, your team can be productive when it needs to be, and social when it wants to be. Book a tour to check out our adaptive coworking spaces and discover the value of a physical meeting space for your hybrid team.