In-Person Meetings are Back on the Agenda

In-Person Meetings are Back on the Agenda

Remember the days when in-person meetings were met with reluctant groans and claims of “This could have been an email...”?

Fast forward to 2021 and many people are now looking forward to in-person meetings once again become part of their normal working day.

Here at UBC we’re certainly seeing greater demand for our meeting rooms, both from existing clients as well as external businesses based locally.

So what is it about an in-person meeting that digital channels simply can’t replicate? Why are so many people eager to get back to face-to-face collaboration?

For the most part, it’s because working remotely and communicating over digital channels is taking its toll.

We are only human after all, and social interaction is part of our natural construct. We didn’t evolve over thousands of years to sit and communicate through a screen for hours on end.

That’s not to say digital platforms aren’t useful.

Over the past 12+ months, video technology has proved enormously valuable on both a personal and a business level. The ability to see and talk with people over video calls has enabled friends and family to stay in touch, and to help isolated people feel a little more connected.

In business, video calls through digital platforms such as Microsoft, GoToMeeting, and Zoom has enabled teams to continue collaborating and remain productive, despite the huge disruption going on all around us.

But when the pendulum swings too much in one direction, it’s a change that can be difficult to adjust to -- much less maintain for a long period of time.

‘Virtual overload’

After more than a year of predominantly virtual work and collaboration, research shows that people are simply exhausted.

Research by Gartner (May 2021) claims that workers are suffering from “virtual overload” owing to an abundance of online meetings, leaving employees 1.24 times more likely to feel emotionally drained from their work.

And despite the huge benefits of video call technology, it’s incredibly tiring.

You’ve probably heard the term ‘Zoom fatigue’, and you’ve more than likely experienced it for yourself. A study by Stanford University (published in February 2021) examined the psychological effects of video calls and why they are so mentally draining. It found:

  • Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense. Both the amount of eye contact we engage in on video chats, as well as the size of faces on screens is unnatural. Everyone is looking at everyone, all of the time, and the amount of eye contact is dramatically increased. This can trigger social anxiety in a similar way to presenting to an audience.
  • Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing. It’s unnatural to see yourself on screen during a conversation or a meeting; in addition to being distracting, it can prompt feelings of self-criticism, which adds another stressor to the mix.
  • The cognitive load is much higher in video chats. In regular face-to-face interaction, nonverbal communication is natural and people make and interpret non-verbal gestures and cues subconsciously. But on video, we have to work harder to send and receive signals, and need to exaggerate certain cues to ensure our meaning is being transmitted effectively. This adds cognitive load and makes the process more tiring.

That’s why, with restrictions gradually lifting, many workers are now choosing to spend time face-to-face with their colleagues.

Part of this is down to a natural need to interact socially with people. But it’s also because virtual meetings simply can’t replace in-person collaboration.

A survey about business travel by Chubb (April 2021) found that globally, 80% or more of business travellers believe they are missing something important when they cannot see body language or other visual clues that you can only get in an in-person meeting.

That’s why at UBC, we’re not at all surprised that we’re seeing so much demand for our meeting rooms from both existing clients and local businesses.

Based on conversations we are having on a daily basis, entrepreneurs and teams are ready to get back into a face-to-face format as soon as possible. And the good news is, all of our 7 meeting room venues are Covid-safe and professionally managed, with friendly onsite staff ready to welcome you and support your transition to the ‘new normal’.

Why not try one of our meeting rooms and see for yourself? As a special welcome, we’re currently offering 15% discount on meeting room bookings when you book online!

Book a meeting room here