Over the past year and a half, we all feel like we have learned just how much technology has evolved to accommodate meetings of all kinds, from education to business, the arts, and family – to just feeling connected with other human beings. While the business world sorts out the new normal in business communications and while many employers and employees are opting to remain virtual for the foreseeable future, the need for in-person meetings still ranks high as the most effective way for businesses to move forward.
You can’t replace face-to-face
Even as the late Apple icon, Steve Jobs, revealed how the iPhone would connect people on a global scale, he also knew that no amount of technology would ever be able to replace face-to-face meetings. “There’s a temptation in our networked age, to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat.” Jobs said. “That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions.” As it turns out, according to a study by Great Business Schools, 84% of people still say they prefer in-person meetings, confirming Steve Jobs’ assessment that to get new ideas flowing, people need to be in the same room together.
Benefits of in-person meetings
Humans are social animals, designed to interact with each other and we benefit from in-person meetings in several ways. Consider these benefits and whether or not you can relate.
- Clearer lines of communication
While Zoom and Skype provide great ways to conduct some business, virtual communication loses many of the intangible elements that our psyche automatically registers and processes when we communicate face-to-face. A Psychology Today study revealed that at least two-thirds of communication can be non-verbal. We often take these non-verbal cues for granted but subtle changes in vocal inflections, a wide range of facial expressions, hand gestures, and eye contact all help speakers express themselves clearly to make their meaning understood. Non-verbal cues, such as body language, don’t transfer to small screens very well. Also, thoughts lose their spontaneity over video-conferencing, dissipating through the ethers, while waiting for other participants to finish speaking before you can breathe life into that idea that just popped into your head.
- Distractions and interruptions minimized
According to the Washington Post, “more than eight in ten executives prefer in-person meetings to virtual contact, noting they create space for tough, timely business decisions and foster more complex strategic thinking.” In-person meetings allow people to engage with others in a spontaneous way that no technology can compete with. In brainstorming sessions, for example, people tend to listen more intently to other team members as new ideas and innovative solutions start to take shape. Technology isn’t conducive to rapid-fire interchanges of ideas, without interrupting others and causing confusion among attendees. Additionally, as we learned during the shutdown, kids and pets can make cameo appearances during your Zoom meeting and although these are cute, they are non-productive. And when technical glitches occur, we know meetings go south, altogether. The labored nature of virtual meetings often misses the interpersonal communications that happen in face-to-face meetings.
- Relationship building and serendipity
Because everyone’s time seems so limited these days, video-conferencing can cover a lot of ground in less time than in-person meetings, with a lot fewer challenges to your schedule. However, the opportunity to connect with your colleagues and build strong business relationships is limited in a sort of two-dimensional way. In Andrew Griffiths’ Inc.com article he recommends that “we should never completely stop having face-to-face meetings, especially in the early, formative stages of a relationship where you are getting to know each other.” Griffiths goes on to say, “More often than not, a short, well-structured and well-planned meeting can save an incredible amount of time. Sometimes new tech is not always better tech.”
Chemistry happens in face-to-face meetings. It could occur as a simple but profound chance encounter after a meeting where you strike up a conversation with a team member or someone in the elevator not connected to the meeting at all. These connections could lead to business deals, an ally on a topic, or best of all, collaboration. Where video-conferencing is convenient, face-to-face small talk lets you gather a large amount of information, in a small amount of time. On the other side of that coin, difficult conversations work better face-to-face. So much can get misinterpreted in emails and videoconferencing. For the hard topics, in-person meetings are a respectful way to address your issues with someone else. You can better work out solutions to issues by talking to someone face-to-face before these situations turn into huge problems.
- Trust and authenticity
According to a Journal of Experimental Social Psychology study, in-person communication is “seen as more trustworthy than email.” Due to unsavory Internet scams and the like, unsolicited emails are usually thought of as suspicious, whereas meeting with a new client in person shows your good intentions and authenticity. You took the time out of your busy day to meet with them face-to-face, establishing a sense of trust with potential clients. Research shows that person-to-person business meetings are more likely to yield successful results for both parties involved than online interactions. With all of this in mind, how will in-person meetings take place in this new world?
Flexible, shared spaces are the key
Spaces like Pacesetter Workspaces in North Scottsdale make an ideal location for the surrounding Maricopa County businesses to conduct in-person client meetings. Until traditional office spaces adapt and adjust to safer, socially distanced measures, coworking/flexible shared spaces are designed with in-person meetings in mind.
- Executive Office Suites
Our flexible, monthly plans offer area businesses the opportunity for teams to meet, every day, every week, or once a month, depending on your business’ needs. Businesses can take advantage of a middle space between home and going back into the office. The perfect setting for local employees to work on a full-time basis, where projects require in-person meetings for optimal outcomes. It also helps when you can give yourself and your team a break from the isolation of working from home. Pacesetters can set your team up to meet in one of our office spaces, conduct ongoing in-person meetings, as well as to interact with other members, and stay connected to the local business scene.
- Virtual Office Plans
If you run your business from home, you can boost your image with a professional mailing address, plus mail and message services, as well as enjoying access to our conference rooms at discounted member rates for client meetings that impress.
- Meeting Rooms
Even if you are running your business from home, Pacesetters offers you the flexibility to rent a conference room with all of the business equipment and amenities you need to run a successful in-person meeting.
In-person meetings may be even more important now in an increasingly virtual business landscape. For all of your in-person meeting needs, contact Pacesetter Workspaces to schedule a tour!