In my most recent blog post, I shared why in-person meetings are best for teams to approach their most important initiatives, problems, and plans. I invite you to read the post, but to sum it up quickly – virtual meetings stifle creativity and make the communication of complex issues much more difficult than in-person.
We can get a lot done virtually – a lot more than we realized we could just a few short years ago. However, to be at our best, there are times we need to get together in person. Not all the time, unless you want to face rebellion or your own personal great resignation.
So, when you get together in person, you need to do it right.
Every element should be intentional: The purpose, the location, the attendees, the atmosphere, the facilitation, the non-work activities, and…everything else! Because, if your team finds an in-person gathering to be an unproductive waste of time, it is going to be that much more difficult to get them to leave their comfortable home office the next time you need to bring them together.
In that vein, I want to share five scenarios that are appropriate for in-person meetings, or, of course, offsites. When you find yourself in one of these situations, not only will an in-person gathering be valuable to you and your organization, your team will find value in it as well.
- Strategic Planning
Let’s start out with the most common and time-honored offsite—the strategic planning session. The outcomes of these meetings set the course for a team or organization, and ultimately play the most significant role in determining short and long-term business trajectory. With that said, your reaction might be to say, “Of course, this is a meeting that is done in person.” But not so fast – as many teams were forced to hold virtual strategic planning meetings due to the pandemic, it could be easy to continue down that path. But especially in these unique times, it’s never been more important to get together in person to collaborate, debate, and align on a strategic plan moving forward.
- Hybrid & Distributed Team Connecting
I remember in the summer of 2020, once most were well-established in their work-from-home lifestyles, there were a lot of comments about how well things were going. Teams hadn’t lost a beat, culture hadn’t suffered, and teams were still “connected.” Of course, those teams had the previous months and years to establish trust, relationships, and connections, and they translated quite easily through shared experiences. Today, the situation is different. The great resignation happened. Almost all teams have had over 50% turnover. As a result, those connections need to be built and nurtured – and in person is the best way to do that. Not only can you use in-person meetings to build that culture, but it will also be valuable to connect to solve those challenges and develop those plans that can not be effectively done on Zoom or Teams.
- A project or plan that is falling off track
We’ve all been there. We’re at an inflection point. Things are stagnant and not going to plan. It’s time to pivot and create a plan that ignites something – a spark to get back on the right path. You can’t get that spark on a virtual meeting! These are the meaty challenges that really require teams to get together, stare at the problem together, bounce ideas off each other, and find that solution or big idea that has been eluding them up to this point.
- Kicking off a new initiative
The kickoff of a project is an undervalued indicator of the success of that project. A poor kickoff can lead to delays, confusion in roles, and, ultimately, a project that gets off track. However, a team aligned on a plan, agreed on a timeline, and clear on roles and responsibilities will hit the ground running and have a better than average chance of success. And the best way to get that alignment is in person. Not only do you have the entire team engaged in developing the plan, but the team will have the opportunity to truly understand the foundation of the initiative and will build important connections that will pay off when they inevitably hit a few hurdles or speedbumps on their path to success.
- Having a proper celebration
When they hit their objectives and reach success, teams need to be celebrated and recognized for their achievements. It’s motivating and feels good. Parties over Webex or Google Meet are extraordinarily lame compared to in-person. Sure, it was a necessity for most of 2020 and 2021, but this is a time to get your teams together to truly acknowledge their hard work. There are literal vibes between people in the ether between them when they laugh with each other and make eye contact. Vibes are lost in technology.
Yes, the people have spoken (and they are still speaking) and they don’t want to just go back to the office or be in person just because. So, when you do ask your team to leave the comfortable confines of their home office, make sure it is for the right reason. Then, it will be a meeting that matters. Your team – and your outcomes – will be better for it.