While the recessed economy has many looking for ways to curtail costs through technology, not everyone is using it as an alternative to traditional meetings. According to a recent Forbes Insight survey, the benefits of face-to-face meetings are immense. Of the 760 business executives surveyed, eight out of 10 preferred in-person contact to virtual interaction.
Respondents cited several factors as to why they prefer to meet in person, such as greater social interaction; the ability read people; the ability to build stronger, more meaningful relationships; and the opportunity for teamwork and more complex strategic thinking. The majority also said face-to-face meetings were best for persuasion (91 percent), leadership (87 percent), engagement (86 percent), accountability (79 percent) and decision-making (82 percent).
Although 59 percent said their use of virtual meetings (video, Web and teleconferencing, etc.) had increased during the recession, those methods were generally preferred only when location flexibility, data dissemination, time and financial constraints were of great concern. The drawbacks of these types of meetings centered on lack of attendee focus — 58 percent admitted they frequently surf the Web, check e-mail and handle other unrelated work during digital meetings — and the inability to boost morale, trust and recognition through digital means.
The survey also found that while the benefits of in-person meetings outweighed those of virtual ones, executives don’t see either replacing the other. Instead, they say a mix of the two is an ideal meetings strategy.