Greg Ng
Value of Face to Face Meetings
Greg Ng
June 14, 2017

Six Ways Face-to-Face Meetings Align Organizations

Business today typically means a globally distributed organization with offices across many time zones. Two-thirds of U.S. workers expect to work remotely in the future, and top companies are quickly embracing telecommuters.

This business model has many benefits but also brings about the challenge of getting separate teams on the same page. According to the recent PointSource report, Executing Digital Transformation, just 30 percent of respondents say departments across their organization always come together to problem solve. Likewise, 15 percent do not feel that all lines of business across their organization are aligned and work together toward common goals.

Managing disparate units necessitates more face-to-face meetings to create an aligned organization. From a financial perspective, this is not always a company’s first choice. However, while executives often believe they can use digital channels to efficiently communicate messages to a broader audience, that’s not always the case. And it’s certainly not as effective as talking in person can be.

While not all organizations have team members around the world, the presence of internal discord within just a single office indicates that if and when expansion occurs, alignment will be very difficult to achieve. There’s a reason why more than eight in 10 executives (84 percent) prefer in-person contact to virtual interactions, according to one Forbes report.

If you’re still not convinced, here are six more reasons why any multi-departmental team scattered across geographies requires face-to-face meetings:

1. Face-to-face meetings create trust

Eighty-five percent of executives report that face-to-face meetings build stronger, more meaningful business relationships.

Meeting face to face builds personal relationships that are impossible to achieve virtually, even through video chats or daily phone calls. Personal interactions inspire stronger, more meaningful relationships that reduce conflict and support collaboration.

2. Face-to-face meetings lessen confusion

Seventy-seven percent of executives say they prefer face-to-face business meetings because they can read body language and facial expressions.

Attendees can too easily feel that everyone is on the same page during technology-enabled meetings when the opposite is often true. In-person meetings create space for a strong facilitator who can tune into visual cues of misalignment (body language, facial expressions, etc.) and work out those spots of discontent immediately, thus eliminating potential issues later.

3. Face-to-face meetings allow for tough and timely decision-making

Forty-four percent of executives say face-to-face meetings create a better environment for tough, timely decision-making, and half (49 percent) say this style allows for more complex strategic thinking.

When making group decisions, alignment is more easily achieved in person than virtually. This is largely because everyone who needs to be a part of the conversation can be. Likewise, all information relevant to the decision is out in the open and discussed for all to hear, creating transparency and clarity for the entire group.

4. Face-to-face meetings eliminate distractions through physical accountability

Forty percent of executives feel face-to-face meetings lessen opportunities for unnecessary distractions.

It’s easy to try to multitask or to check out on a conference call. We’re all guilty of it. Meeting virtually may be beneficial in the short term, but face-to-face meetings ensure that everyone is engaged in the discussion, and eventually, the decision at hand. Simply being in the room encourages attention and participation.

5. Face-to-face meetings avoid having too many people in the room

Thirty-nine percent of executives say in-person meetings result in higher-quality decision making.

Face-to-face meetings demand closer scrutiny on whose attendance is pivotal for a meeting to succeed. It’s very easy to invite everyone and anyone to a conference call. But, with the high costs of travel, bringing in team members requires looking critically at who should attend. In addition to a productivity boost, this mindset has the added benefit of creating cost efficiencies.

6. Face-to-face meetings create momentum

Three in four executives prefer face-to-face meetings because the increased social interaction enables stronger bonds with coworkers and clients.

People buy into things they help create. When leaders of an organization declare decisions, while they may be able to effectively communicate the message, they won’t necessarily earn commitment. Employees need to feel like a part of the decision. Meeting face to face with team members involved in a new project, campaign, etc. leaves opportunity to answer questions and work out details before rolling out company-wide. This creates valuable early alignment and helps each person involved take responsibility for and be accountable to the success of the decision.

As Americans, we’re increasingly predisposed to favor less intimate forms of communication, and interacting via phone or video is often the easiest solution. But, the easy choice is rarely the right choice with your company’s long-term health in mind.

Alignment is one of the eight critical components of digital transformation, and it’s difficult to overstate the importance of prioritizing face-to-face communications when making business decisions. An aligned organization is a strong organization, and consensus across key internal stakeholders brings many benefits that trickle throughout an entire business.

Ready to learn more about internal alignment and creating a business culture that supports change and innovation? Download the full Executing Digital Transformation study.

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