Advancements in technology have drastically altered the corporate landscape in certain ways, including the way in which companies conduct meetings. Many organizations have turned to virtual meetings to cut costs. While saving money is certainly important, in this case, it may not be worth the cost of losing the major benefits that only offsite and in-person meetings offer.
Leading organizations are well aware of this and have followed suite by continuing to hold at least a few face-to-face meetings per year. They utilize video conference calls for daily internal meetings and client meetings, but do not rely on this format for company-wide meetings or big client meetings.
In fact, 85 percent of corporate executives consider virtual meetings and teleconferences to be less effective than in-person meetings.1
Why do ultra-successful companies invest time and money in offsite meetings when they could easily hold them virtually? Doing so offers significant benefits that provide real return on investment.
#1 You Can Read the Room
It is common knowledge that interpreting the tone of a text message or email can be nearly impossible in some cases. Despite getting a visual image of co-workers during video conferences, the distance can still make it difficult to read the climate in the room. This lack of clarification can cause misunderstandings about what participants really want to know or their view on the matter at hand. Employee frustration or disengagement cause cracks in company morale that can become craters if they are not addressed properly.
#2 It Supports Company Culture
A positive employee perception of company culture is not just a nice thing to list in job postings. It has a strong effect on the way employees view their employer. Ratings of company traits such as work environment, collaboration and value alignment are 20% higher at organizations that have strong cultures.2
#3 Distractions are Kept to a Minimum
Focus can easily go right out of the window when employees are not in the same room as their superiors – even when they are on a video conference call. For example, they may appear to be taking notes when in fact they are working on an unrelated task. Sometimes it is not deliberate; if an employee is not actively involved in the meeting, their attention can easily start to wander when there is no one present to keep them on their toes. While you do not want to treat your employees like children, you also do not want the time spent on planning and holding meetings to go to waste.
#4 There are Fewer Technology Issues
Technology is a wonderful thing, until it is not. When it goes haywire, it can really interfere with your ability to hold a meeting, and in some cases, force you to reschedule it or cancel it altogether. An issue as seemingly minor as a Wi-Fi outage can wreak havoc on project timelines if it delays a kickoff or presentation meeting. When you hold an in-person meeting, even in extreme cases – such as a power outage – you can still hold a conversation. It does not harm your ability to be productive.
#5 It Encourages Employee Engagement
Successful leadership knows their employees are an asset in more ways than one. One way employees provide value is the ideas they bring to the table that leadership may have overlooked. Employees follow existing internal processes and interact with clients on a regular basis, so they are in the perfect position to give feedback to management about both. If something is not working, they can educate leadership about it and offer ideas to improve the process. Plus, engaging with employees shows them their contributions are valued. This is critical for long term company success, as highly engaged work environments experience a 10 percent increase in customer ratings and a 20 percent increase in sales.3
Despite advances in technology that have created a new normal in the workplace, sometimes the old way of doing something is the best way. In-person meetings offer significant opportunities and major benefits, especially when it comes to strengthening company culture and morale, and fostering employee engagement. It is the human element and simplicity of face-to-face meetings that make them a must for every organization.