When the corporate world started working remotely, there was a euphoria around working from home. But that soon faded due to factors like increased stress, zoom fatigue, decreasing productivity, less work-life balance and inability to form personal relationships with colleagues. Although some organizations and employees have switched to permanent remote work post-pandemic, some are still contemplating to bring employees back into office or switching to a hybrid model. One of the major concerns of employers in remote work seems to be the lack of opportunities to build personal relationships with team members. However, with virtual team building becoming popular, smaller organizations are leaning towards a fully remote set-up to save costs. Larger organizations on the other hand are opting for a hybrid set-up or fully in-office teams.
Virtual team building activities have been the lifeline of sustaining team bonds during the pandemic. Ultimately, each work model has its own advantages and disadvantages. Regardless of which model has been chosen, virtual way of doing things is here to stay. Video calls with team members, regular video check-ins, client video calls etc have become a norm. But that does not undermine the importance of in-person meetings. Sometimes it might be inevitable to have a face to face meeting. Although not comprehensive, here is a quick analysis on what organizations should consider while choosing whether to go for a virtual meeting or a face to face meeting:
When to choose a virtual meet up?
With advancements in technology, virtual meet-ups have become an increasingly convenient, cost saving and time saving alternative. While virtual meet-ups are a clear winner when costs and time are considered, they may not be the best choice when critical decision making, team building, and creative thinking is needed. Virtual meet-ups do not facilitate personal interactions and dynamic exchange of ideas. And technology does not necessarily come without interruptions. An important meeting might be disrupted if there is a poor network connection or a power outage. But virtual meetings have been the saviour during the pandemic. They were much needed to keep things working normally.
Virtual meetings are also great to receive unbiased feedback. Executives may be apprehensive that virtual meetings do not facilitate honest interactions. But for introverted team members, virtual meetings are a great opportunity to share unbiased feedback. With the use of technological tools in virtual meetings, team members can vote anonymously to share feedback.
Virtual meetings are also great when large teams need to collaborate and brainstorm. Organizing a face to face meet up for large teams can be exhausting and everyone might not have the opportunity to share their ideas. In contrast, virtual meetings can be organized with teams of any size, and everyone can participate in brainstorming by using break out rooms.
In a nutshell, virtual meetings are best when there are large teams distributed in various geographic locations, when regular check-ins need to be done, when time and cost saving is a priority, when unbiased feedback is solicited, and when large teams need to brainstorm together.
When to choose a Face-to-Face meet up?
Face-to-Face meet ups are surely more time consuming, expensive, and effort taking. To organize a face to face meeting for large teams, it not only involves many calendar months of planning but also many dollars spent on logistics. However, face to face meetings are great for building personal relationships, strengthening team communication, and for building trust.
Face-to-Face meet ups also create a sense of camaraderie among team members and in person interactions allow for a smooth sharing of ideas. According to research by Great Business School, 84% of the executives are preferring to opt for a face to face meeting post pandemic. Research has also shown the face to face meetings can be more focused, productive and can generate more ideas than virtual meetings.
Face-to-Face meet ups have also been considered important due to the use of non-verbal cues in communication such as body language. For example, a handshake can set the tone for further interactions during a meeting. Also, while networking with ethnically diverse clients or teams, in person meetings can be the foundation to build a strong relationship.
Other scenarios where in person meetings are extremely important are negotiating contracts, meeting important clients, onboarding for senior roles, or celebrating milestones. To conclude, in person meetings should be preferred when the matter at hand is of significant important and when forming a strong relationship is crucial.
While each one has it’s own advantages and disadvantages, choosing one of the two depends on multiple factors within your organization like The size of your team, purpose of the meeting, your organizational culture, and the rapport executives share with teams. No organization can completely rule out one over the other.