Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Posted by Jeff Sandler at 9:22 AM
They are absolutely the best way to build relationships and a sense of community, create and mold a culture, foster team spirit, motivate and recognize workers, and drive that overall deep connection at the core of our being.
We work our best when we're connected, in sync, and supporting one another's efforts. But those face-to-face work sessions we rely upon are coming at significantly increasing costs.
Therein lies the challenge statement. How do we remain connected, leverage those relationships, grow productivity (individual and collective), increase collaboration, and sustain the overall interactive goodness in a cost-conscious environment?
These opposing forces -- cost reductions and increasing collaboration -- place a premium on sustainability, a best practice designed to reinforce, protect, preserve, and expand upon the value gained by every in-person meeting.
Having face-to-face meetings without a sustainability plan is wasteful, leading to fleeting knowledge, transient understanding, countless repetition and do-overs, vanishing returns, and lost value. And that's where a virtual collaboration platform comes to the fore.
Highly interactive virtual meetings are an effective means of mastering initiatives launched in face-to-face meetings, such as new materials, approaches, and skills. They allow each participant to maintain and even expand the sense of connection, camaraderie, comprehension, interaction, and contribution, while delivering sustainability.
How? Virtual meetings enable us to communicate and collaborate in ways that enhance what we do in person. Take two examples of typical meetings held in a virtual immersive environment.
1) In advance of a face-to-face meeting, virtual meeting(s) effectively build anticipation, interest, preparation, and excitement.
2) After a face-to-face meeting, forming virtual team and special-purposed subject matter rooms, coupled with 24/7 persistence of content, provides a place to reinforce, practice, and continue skills development, as well as openly discuss and share ideas.
Given today's constant pressures to reduce costs, more face-to-face meetings are just not a valid option. Reducing the number and/or duration of face-to-face meetings creates risk to overall effectiveness, and is an equally invalid option.
The truth is, in-person and virtual meetings both have their own merits and advantages. Perhaps that's why so many companies are integrating virtual meetings with their in-person meetings. Some tasks are better accomplished in person. Others are more effectively sustained and achieved virtually.
Merging both in a cohesive strategy can bring synergistic value. Each type of meeting can increase the effectiveness of the other.
Face-to-face meetings are more effective when the pre and post activities surrounding it directly support and sustain the messages and materials discussed.
Virtual meetings benefit from the relationships and initial sense of connection built during face-to-face encounters. A virtual environment's 24/7 accessibility and persistence of content bring a level of convenience and ease to planned and serendipitous meetings that, even with unlimited funding and travel privileges, cannot be achieved with in-person meetings.
In today's competitive and cost-sensitive world, moving forward with a single meeting methodology limits the value and advantages that can be achieved compared to a well-thought-out strategy combining and leveraging both face-to-face and virtual sessions.