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Why face-to-face meetings will play a crucial role in a post-lockdown world

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/conferences/content-corner?newsItem=8a1785d87812ab2401781d4a3d3c2b6b

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While some people are craving in-person interaction, others are looking forward to sharing ideas with colleagues. Let’s take a look at why face-to-face meetings will play a crucial role as businesses look to plan for a post-lockdown world.

Video fatigue

Before looking at why coming together is so impactful, it is important to look at how we have adapted during the pandemic. Remote working has shown fantastic benefits, both in the working and events world. As well as allowing greater flexibility with working patterns, virtual services in the meetings space have allowed delegates more opportunities to attend conferences, particularly for international events.

However, there are signs that people are becoming tired of this online working environment. Researchers in USA have coined the term ‘Zoom Fatigue’, identifying scientific reasons behind why people are becoming more tired of video calls and meetings. Among the reasons for video fatigue include excessive and intense eye contact, constantly watching videos of yourself, the limited mobility of being stuck at your desk and increased energy spent identifying social cues.

From teams lacking creativity to feelings of isolation, it is clear that the results of such feelings can be felt across a number of businesses. And while many business leaders have started to look at making flexible working policies a permanent fixture, there is no doubting that there is a really important role for face-to-face in a post-lockdown world.

Creative thinking

One of the biggest challenges for many has been finding a creative flair while being stuck in a home office. The pandemic has forced many professions to be more creative than ever, due to the truly unprecedented nature of the events. Business leaders have had to face and overcome major challenges – from staff resourcing to ensuring productivity and services remain high – meaning creativity has had to be at the forefront of the decision-making process.

Yet with more of us working from home, the opportunity to come together as a team and share ideas has had to take place in an online setting. Some of the benefits of mind mapping sessions include building a sense of involvement from each other, working in sub-groups and discussing and debating new ideas among the wider group. In an online setting, it is very difficult to replicate this and can often lead to quieter and more introverted members of the team not having the same opportunity to input ideas.

It is fair to say that remote working has left many professions facing a creativity crisis. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. With the announcement of the roadmap out of lockdown gathering pace and social distancing restrictions looking set to be lifted, we could see a return to settings where creative thinking can thrive.

Creative spaces will be a crucial element to achieving this. Whether inside or outside, working in unique spaces can help inspire new ways of thinking. It is important that the environment is comfortable and that participants have the right tools to jot down notes and ideas. Here, colleagues can be inspired and work together to create new and intuitive ideas for themselves, their businesses or clients.

Meeting face-to-face

Another struggle for businesses has been the lack of face-to-face meetings. Interviews have had to take place virtually, and some employees have had to enrol in new jobs without meeting any of their peers. Additionally, important meetings more suited to an in-person setting, such as appraisals, have had to take place remotely.

Learning and development has also been impacted. Classroom settings, where attendees can ask questions and be involved with real-life scenarios with peers, have been restricted during the pandemic. And while online learning has progressed in the last year, taking part in a training course while working from home can be less effective as attendees may be tempted to check emails or take phone calls.

Attending meetings in a distraction-free environment has been sorely missed by many. Offering complete focus on the meeting at hand, they allow people to express themselves and collaborate effectively with those in the meetings. Crucially, they can also help to build relationships with team members; something which has been missed while working remotely.

The power of coming together

Coming together will need to be managed sensitively. Companies and event organisers must acknowledge that some colleagues will not be ready to return to a face-to-face setting. However, offering people the choice will ensure that productivity levels remain high. So then, how can this be achieved?

The pandemic has allowed us to understand our best working environment. For some, being surrounded by colleagues allows the creative juices to flow, while others prefer working at home to their own schedule. Hybrid solutions, therefore, could play a key role as we integrate back into the settings experienced in January 2020.

Offering delegates the choice of in-person meetings and dialling in via an online platform, hybrid settings provide the flexibility required during this delicate phase. What is clear, however, is that it is unlikely that we will return to a one-size-fits-all approach to meetings and organisers must be ready to adapt the way in which they plan such gatherings.

Warwick Conferences has a number of options available to ensure delegates can return to meetings or conference settings with confidence. If you would like to speak to a member of the team, please contact us today.

Gail Tomlinson-ShortGail Tomlinson-Short

Gail has over 20 years of experience within the events services industry at Warwick Conferences, developing strong business relationships through a consultative sales approach. Primarily specialising in the automotive, construction, logistics and manufacturing sectors.

Gail dot Tomlinson-Short at warwick dot ac dot uk

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