Is this the end of face-to-face meetings in the workplace?

By Daisy Wolfenden

woman remote working on video conference callMeetings are often blamed for draining the time of employees and companies they work for.

In the current situation where many are still working from home, it’s meant a complete change in how they conduct meetings, switching face-to-face sit downs for Zoom and Teams calls. Will the benefits this brings in terms of time saving mean this is a shift in workplace culture that’s here to stay?

Meeting culture

It’s easy for some businesses to get into the habit of a ‘meeting culture’, where every conversation and catch up with another member of staff seemingly warrants a meeting scheduled in the diary. For some workplaces, this has just become the norm and is part of their day-to-day working processes, but it’s really important to take a step back and assess how productive it really is to spend the majority of your working day in a meeting room.

For some, this could come down to a lack of clarity over what warrants a meeting, and the value that the company is placing on an individual’s time.

When you’re working your way through your task list or emails, it can be really tempting to book a meeting in for the future and essentially ‘tick off’ that task and not think about it again until your 15 minute meeting reminder pops up! But it’s so important to set an agenda there and then when you’re booking the meeting, and importantly – set an objective for the meeting. What do you want to get out of it? If it’s just a quick answer to a question, go over and speak to the person you need to speak to or give them a quick call. Not only does the meeting take up that allotted time, but often, productivity before and after a meeting is impacted as it can be difficult to get your head in and out of what you’re working on.

How have virtual meetings made our days more efficient?

What we’ve found at Visibilis is that virtual meetings have enabled us to have much better contact with our clients.

Our clients are based all around the country, and it can be really difficult to align schedules and set up a regular face-to-face meeting, so although we always talk on the phone regularly, we don’t always get to see them as much as we’d like to. But now that video calling is the norm, we’ve been seeing much more of our clients and it’s encouraged really open, friendly and closer working relationships. It’s made us wonder why we didn’t do more video conference calls before!

Lockdown has presented an ideal opportunity for clients to see their full team easily so that everything from immersion sessions to monthly catchups really feel much more rewarding for both sides.

Top tip for using virtual meetings more productively

The ease of adding someone into a virtual meeting can make it really tempting to invite everyone who ‘might’ find it useful, but similar to a physical meeting, it’s still really important to have an agenda. This is especially true when you’re booking a video call with a lot of people, you don’t want to waste their time, so make sure that everyone you’re inviting has a part to play in that call and knows what they have to come prepared with.

What does the future of the face-to-face meeting look like?

I imagine that many companies will adopt working from home into their structure even though they can go back to the office now, so I think the virtual meeting is certainly here to stay. For us, it means that we can meet international clients and prospects with ease, so it’s enabled us to expand our reach and speed up conversations that usually would have taken weeks or even months to book in.

We’ve got time back as well – time that would have usually been spent traveling to and from meetings, we’re now using that time more efficiently (whether it’s for work or our own time) so we’re hoping in the longer term that people will be much more inclined to prefer video conferencing to save everyone’s valuable time.

I think we’ll see lots of interviews happening virtually as well, especially if many companies do adopt a working from home structure – there will be less requirement for businesses to only rely on local talent.

We’re not back in the office yet but a few team members are starting to return, and one rule we’ve now put in place for the future is that all meeting invites must include a virtual meeting link, whether some people are in the office or not, so that there’s no pressure for the team to come into the office if they’d prefer to work from home.

This being said, we’ve always been a close team and enjoyed being in the office together – there’s much more chance of informal conversation and ad hoc chat, whether it’s about work or not, so when a meeting is more ideas-based and require a lot of feedback and exploration, we would still try to get together face-to-face.

Daisy Wolfenden About the author

Daisy Wolfenden is Managing Director at digital marketing agency Visibilis, who work with brands across the UK and internationally to boost their brand awareness and increase business growth online.




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