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The Future of Meetings - Cobalt HR

March 2, 20220

Since the pandemic forced businesses to suddenly shift from in-person meetings to online, the question rises for those planning the upcoming meetings, workshops, and conferences:

Should they be in-person or virtual?

Benefits of face-to-face – Most of us prefer to be in-person again to foster deeper interpersonal connections that also facilitates spontaneous interactions. A live physical presentation carries an energy and authenticity – just like concerts, a recording is just not the same.

Benefits of virtual – Yet, virtual formats also have their own advantages, with scaling the number and location of participants, reducing costs and carbon footprint. Other advantages include the ability to customize experiences for subgroups, gather and analyse data in real time, etc.

What will happen then in the future?

With the shift to remote work, a lot of organisations will be determined to improve meeting productivity habits with the purpose to reduce video call fatigue and increase employee satisfaction.

A hybrid model

‘People may interact in person with their pod and virtually with others or vice-versa depending on the different functions and geographies.’ (Forbes, 2021)

A meeting where some people gather in-person and others join virtually. Combining the benefits of both in-person and virtual meetings to balance and maximize engagement, allow flexibility, re-watch and share meetings, collect data and reflect, reduce costs and more. As more organisations begin to employ a hybrid model, a key challenge arises on how to get the most out of hybrid meetings (CIPD 2021) offers best practice tips to learn about effective ways.

Diverse and inclusive

Organisations try to create a culture where every employee feels a sense of belonging to benefit from increased creativity & innovation, see reduced absenteeism, boost company reputation, and enjoy success in recruitment. For example, a common complaint among women in the workplace is that they do not feel heard, especially in male-dominated environments. In the future, technology can help leverage hybrid meetings by capturing diverse viewpoints, encouraging introverted people to speak up and ensuring those with mobility challenges can still participate

Proper equipment

However, technology can also undermine or banish voices and perspectives if people do not have the proper equipment, for example, strong WiFi, and designated workspace. Companies will have to make sure that all employees have the necessary equipment, and that those captions are enabled during online meetings.

In summary, we cannot tell what the future holds but it is unlikely that people return to the physical as we knew it pre-pandemic, nor will remain fully virtual. Rather, an in-between approach will emerge with a focus on creating more diverse, equitable, and inclusive meetings.

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