Virtual meetings serve their purpose, but they do leave something to be desired. Sometimes, there’s just no substitute for the real deal. In-person meetings allow for greater productivity, focus, and clearer, more concise communication. They are also subject to far fewer interruptions such as internet lag, unexpected noises, and at-home distractions. Plus, they help build strong teams, trust, and interpersonal relationships.
A 2017 study from Harvard Business Review found that face-to-face requests are 34 times more successful than requests issued via email. It turns out that in-person persuasiveness is far more effective than any kind of text-based communication. Simply put, there’s power in the personal touch.
These days, ‘personal touch’ is hard to come by, as most office workers have been operating remotely for the past year. And while that’s undoubtedly a plus for employee health, it makes in-person operations markedly more difficult. One day, face-to-face meetings will come back into style, but in the meantime, is there any way for office workers to meet face-to-face safely? How can employers and employees alike adapt to these trying times?
Tips For Safe In-Person Meetings
If you must meet in person, here are some suggestions to help you, your organization, your co-workers, and your clients do so safely.
1. Err on the Side of Caution
When possible, keep it virtual. Video calls aren’t perfect, but they’re still the safest way for large groups to meet, chat, and collaborate while staying safe and comfortable. When working with clients, always give them the option to meet remotely, and don’t push them to meet in person unless they are 100% comfortable.
2. Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
Ensure that hand sanitizer is readily available for everyone who enters the space. Right by the door is the best spot. Find meeting spaces that have push doors and accessibility buttons to avoid excessive touching. If this isn’t possible, prop the door open with a doorstop until everyone is inside the space, or just leave the door open when you can; good airflow is essential! When working in a communal area, leave time for it to be thoroughly cleaned between uses.
3. Check the Time
It’s more important than ever to avoid busy, crowded spaces, so make an effort to plan your in-person meetings for off-hours. If you’re meeting in an office building, a coffee shop, or a library, time your appointment for the hours when those spaces will be the least populated. Avoid the early risers and the lunch hours, and try to stagger your start times 5 or 10 minutes past the top of the hour.
4. Encourage Mask-Wearing
Not only is mask-wearing critical for the health and wellness of your collaborators, but it also helps your business maintain a serious, professional, and conscientious image. Even if your colleagues already have masks, place a disposable mask at each participant’s seat before the start of the meeting. It’s an implicit reminder that masks are required and helps avoid awkward questions and interactions about PPE.
In-person meetings may be more efficient than video calls, but remember that safety and comfort are always number one! Efficiency is no substitute for the health of you and your colleagues. Stay safe, and good luck.