One thing that the pandemic has taught us is that we really can be productive in a virtual work environment. But now that many of us are going back to the office – at least some of the time – when do we really need to meet in person?
A recent article in Harvard Business Review suggests some questions to help figure out if we need to meet and – if so – in person or virtually:
1. Do we even need a meeting? Rethink your past notions of meetings and ask if you really need it. Maybe an email update is all that is needed. Or maybe you do not need to meet as often as you think. Discuss with your team . . . at your next meeting.
2. Are the meeting goals relationship-based or task-based? If part of the goal is to give people time to build relationships, then in person is probably best.
3. How complex are the meeting goals? More complex meeting goals are best addressed during in person meetings. While I facilitated strategic planning, for example, via Zoom during the height of COVID – I noticed the tradeoffs. Simpler tasks can more likely be done effectively online.
4. Do you have the technology and facilitation capabilities to try hybrid? In coming years I suspect that we will see advancements in technology that will allow us to more easily facilitate “hybrid” meetings – with some people in person and others online. The complexity of the meeting goals impacts this as well. Our EMBA Faculty experimented with teaching in a hybrid environment, and it was not great. Advancements in technology will improve this. Alternatively, I have attended hybrid meetings that were, essentially, update meetings and everything went just fine.
It is a brave new world! Our recent experiences with online meeting technology can inform our future decisions about running meetings and allow us to be even more effective.
*Ideas for this blog taken from: Ringel, R. “Do We Actually Need to Meet in Person?” Harvard Business Review online, July 26, 2021.