By Rachel Houghton, managing director at Business Moves Group


How often do you have in-person meetings now compared to before the pandemic? I’m not just talking about meetings in the office, but those quick coffee catchups or informal lunches with colleagues and clients.

Chances are, you’re having fewer in-person meetings now than pre-2020. Part of that is of course due to the fact that many people are now working remotely for some of the time. But I also believe that the rise in and convenience of video calls has caused this – to the detriment of building relationships.

The value of meeting in-person

 Building relationships

Above all else, business is about people and relationships. Some of the most valuable “meetings” I’ve had are the unscheduled coffees or walks to a train station. Those informal situations are when you get to know someone better and can build a real bond.

Relationships are also critical for business development. Sales teams had to adapt to online calls with prospects during the pandemic, but nothing compares to meeting in-person.

Difficult conversations

There are many situations where it’s beneficial to meet face-to-face. With clients, there are some discussions that are much more suitable in-person than emails back and forth. Internally, employees are much more likely to open up and have a difficult conversation in-person than over a Teams call.

When faced with the prospect of a difficult conversation, it can be tempting to take the easy option and schedule a video call. But you owe it to all participants – and yourself – to meet in-person. It may be uncomfortable or emotional, but it’s so much better than via a screen.

Clearer communication

The 7% Rule states that just seven per cent of all communication is verbal, with the remaining 93 per cent non-verbal through body language and tone of voice. So much of this is lost over a video call which can lead to confusion. Emails are also easily misinterpreted – an exclamation point can be perceived as enthusiastic or passive-aggressive.

Personal development

Younger employees benefit greatly from in-person interactions, whether that’s a meeting or an informal chat in the office. Leaders who care about the happiness, wellbeing, productivity and development of their workforce must make sure to set aside time for face-to-face interaction.

Change your mindset

It’s not hard to invite someone for a coffee – so do it! Plan what days you’ll be in the office and ask someone out for a drink, whether it’s a colleague, client or prospect. Even if they decline, you’ll be on their radar, and it might be that you schedule something for a week later.

From my personal experience of recent informal catchups, every time I have come away feeling a much stronger connection with that person.  

I fully appreciate that everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to being back in the workplace and social settings, so of course you have to bear this in mind. But it’s time we remembered the value of in-person conversations and started to make them a fixture in our weekly diaries.


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