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Why face-to-face business meetings are still important in a world of digital

Picture this – you’re in your third or fourth hour of consecutive virtual meetings and fatigue is beginning to set in. Even a coffee won’t hit the spot, you’ve got a headache, and yet another Zoom meeting scheduled for later on. Did we ever think we’d be yearning for a face-to-face meeting?!

There is no denying that virtual meetings have their place in how we now communicate. Video calls had been the norm for many before the pandemic, but it took lockdown for the rest of us to catch up. They are clearly helpful in a number of ways, such as reducing travel, and connecting teams based in multiple locations. But they do have their limitations, and much has been said about the need for in-person collaboration returning as we hopefully emerge from the Covid situation.

Face-to-face communication is important for building strong relationships

According to a recent HubSpot survey, almost 100% of the people questioned said face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships*1. And a Forbes survey revealed that 84 percent of people say they prefer in-person meetings for their ability to build stronger and more meaningful business relationships.*2

It makes sense. We are social beings and meeting actual people enables much more natural interaction. Meeting face-to-face enables you to properly read the room, as one can read body language and facial expressions better than online. It is easy for things to be misinterpreted when on a video chat or over email.

Clearer Communication

We’ve all been on virtual meetings where a participant’s microphone or camera is turned off or there’s glitchy broadband resulting in frozen screens all round, plus the issue with a number of participates all talking at once, causing laptop speaker overload! Face-to-face meetings avoid these issues allowing for clear, concise communication between all participants. It’s a fact that a grid of thumbnail faces on a screen are less expressive than a group interacting in a real-life meeting scenario.

Zoom calls can be more stressful than a face-to-face meeting

According to Marissa Shuffler, an associate professor at Clemson University, “if we are physically on camera, we are very aware of being watched. When you’re on a video conference, you know everybody’s looking at you; you are on stage, so there comes the social pressure and feeling like you need to perform. Being performative is nerve-wracking and more stressful. It’s also very hard for people not to look at their own face if they can see it on screen, or not to be conscious of how they behave in front of the camera.”. *3

There are a whole host of reasons why Zoom calls can be stressful, but we may not be aware of all of them. Tiredness, headaches and brain fog can be symptoms of too much on screen interaction, so it pays to limit these and bring real person collaboration into the mix as well.

Virtual meetings have turned into an essential part of our workdays, and while they help us navigate a socially distanced world, we believe it’s hard to replace the benefits of a good old-fashioned in-person meeting. At our Future Business Centres, all of our spaces are Covid-safe, with measures in place to mitigate the risk of catching or passing on any virus. We state limits for the maximum number of people in our meeting rooms to keep things safe and have individually packed catering options to make lunches more hygienic, plus plenty of wipes and sanitiser around. And it certainly seems that many companies are valuing the return of in-person meetings, as we’ve seen a big increase recently in bookings for our meeting rooms, both for larger networking events and smaller business get-togethers. Which should mean less headaches and fatigue all round!

Are you booking a face-to-face meeting soon? Get in touch HERE, we’d love to hear from you.

Sources

*1 HubSpot: Face-to-Face Communication Statistics

*2 Forbes Insights – Business meetings –  the case for Face to Face

*3 The reason Zoom calls drain your energy