Why meetings will continue after lockdown

After a study of business leaders concluded there was no substitute for talking to colleagues in person, the future of face-to-face meetings is assured – despite the surge in virtual meetings as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Despite video conferencing offering some benefits, research shows that face-to-face communication is a more effective experience. In fact, speaking to a colleague in person, at a small meeting, is the preferred choice of 90% of respondents when it comes to getting things done.

So what is it about face-to-face meetings that people like so much? A study of company CEOs reveals that the camaraderie and trust gained at meetings builds great teams, creating a sense of loyalty and providing the basis for moving any company forward.

Collaboration
There’s something about seeing a colleague in person that encourages greater collaboration. While sending an email is a useful tool, discussing it further at a meeting is the next step towards putting plans into action. Strong relationships fuel effective collaboration, making work more productive and fulfilling.

People may feel they’re at a disadvantage when taking part in a video conference because smaller group breakouts and side-meetings aren’t possible. Nor is the kind of social interaction after the meeting that can be an important part of finalising the business in hand.

Conversations
Meetings make conversations easier, allowing for clearer communication. As well as being able to read body language, facial expressions and tone of voice, people say face-to-face meetings often end up being more positive – they are considered more credible than virtual conversations.

It can be easy to misinterpret online conversations without the verbal and visual clues that you pick up when talking to someone in person. In fact, 60% of employees regularly misread the tone of a conversation when communicating via email or phone, according to a survey by Entrepreneur.

The late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc and inventor of the iPhone, always maintained that face-to-face meetings would never go out of fashion. He said there was a temptation in this digital era to think ideas could be developed purely by email and iChat. His response? “That’s crazy! Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings and random discussions.”

Inclusion
Having a meeting in person means all team members feel more included. Regardless of the popularity of social networking, face-to-face interactions are the key to building relationships, both professionally and personally, because everyone is involved.

Research shows 85% of employees feel in-person meetings lead to stronger, more meaningful business relationships. According to a survey by Entrepreneur, 47% of professionals said they had lost a client because they didn’t meet them enough in person, as this formed true, concrete connections.

There’s a common misconception that younger employees may prefer virtual meetings. However, while 78% of Gen Xers (born between the 1960s and early 1980s) prefer meeting in person, so do 80% of Millennials (born between the 1980s and the early 2000s).

With younger delegates recognising the value of in-person meetings, they look set to continue after lockdown and beyond and will never be adequately replaced by virtual alternatives.

Meeting in safety
When we’re able to meet in person again, &Meetings’ selection of affordable meeting and training rooms for hire in London will have a host of COVID-19 safety measures in place to ensure everyone’s wellbeing.

We use our own in-house cleaning division and spend 150,000 hours a year cleaning our venues, day and night. Our fogging service sterilises an environment for 30 days and we display cleaning schedules.

We also have heat-mapping CCTV on our venue receptions to keep an eye on people’s temperature, and provide hand sanitiser gel dispensers in receptions and communal areas. We have two-metre markings at our venues so attendees can adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Give us a call on 0800 073 0499 to book a fully-equipped, affordable venue for your future events.

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