Why employees need face-to-face meetings

Businesses can do almost anything virtually these days but meeting face-to-face is something that should never disappear from the workplace.

Advances in technology mean you can run your business remotely, communicating via video conferences, email, instant messenger and various other electronic means.

People meeting at work
© Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock.com

However, would this be good for business? Research suggests not, as despite the option to operate virtually, 76% of employees say they still prefer meeting in person.

Face to face vs virtual meetings

The Covid pandemic taught us one thing – and that’s the option to operate a company without having an operational bricks and mortar office. However, we also learned that remote and home working aren’t necessarily good for either the organisation or the individual employees. Working without any face-to-face meetings caused a “loneliness epidemic”, according to research.

In 2020, when the UK was in lockdown for much of the year, an estimated 5.6 million people worked from home. There was a widespread adoption of technology that enabled remote working. At one time, 74% of Britain’s total workforce were operating remotely, or in a hybrid way.

During the first lockdown in May 2020, the communications regulator Ofcom estimated that more than 13.2 million UK adults used Zoom. This included using the video technology as a substitute for meeting in person for corporate purposes, as well as social use.

Video conferencing was praised for keeping important services running during. It was used by 79% of education organisations and 70% of healthcare SMEs. However, what it couldn’t do was combat the feelings of loneliness experienced by a massive 2.6 million home workers in 2020 and 3.7 million in 2021.

People missed the camaraderie and in-person collaboration that video conferencing can never replicate.

Benefits of face-to-face meetings

Humans are sociable by nature and psychologists have often noted our desire to feel connected to others. Interpersonal relationships can have a major impact on our mental health and behaviour, and that’s why face-to-face meetings are so important during our working day.

In post-pandemic Britain, we’ve learned that video conferencing has its place, but it can never fully replace in-person meetings. Employees need face-to-face interaction, not only in general terms to experience personal contact, but also for specific types of meetings to provide the most effective outcome for certain situations.

Employee communication

Meeting face-to-face is essential for discussions where emotions are involved, such as employee evaluations, for example, especially if there is to be a critical conversation.

Job interviews should also be conducted in person. The risks of hiring someone without meeting them first are too high.

If you’re a small business who wishes to discuss goals for the foreseeable future, or host regular planning sessions, it’s also better to meet in person.

Client interactions

For general day-to-day communication with clients, email can be okay. However, regular meetings in person to enhance the quality of the relationship, or to discuss more important matters, are vital. This is particularly pertinent for certain sectors such as HR professionals, accountants, lawyers and financial advisors, for example.

When dealing with clients, find out in advance how they prefer to communicate. Some may suggest an email if they are particularly busy, while the tech-savvy might feel a quick video call will suffice.

However, to seal the relationship, personal interaction is the most effective method. You can’t cut corners when it comes to clients. Always make time for a personal meeting if this is what they prefer.


Meet face to face for high stakes negotiations with delegates such as potential new manufacturers, or partners in foreign countries.

When you’re hiring a manufacturer to make a product on your behalf, it’s more professional to meet in person before signing on the dotted line.

In some cultures, you will be expected to spend more time cultivating the relationship in person.

This establishes trust and enables you to fully understand the nuances of the conversation and your respective business values, as well as setting the tone for subsequent interactions.

Meeting in person exhibits a greater degree of professionalism, while also providing a sense of connection, intimacy and empathy that is hard to replicate via a video call.

Surveys of businesspeople reveal only 7% say conference calls are their preferred way of attending a meeting, while only 5% favour video calls.

For the vast majority, meeting in person is still recognised as the most effective way of communicating and building strong relationships at work.

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