Online meetings present challenges yet also offer opportunities. How can we get the best out of this new way of working and what are the risks?
For many organisations working online has been the only available method to do business whether that be working with internal teams, clients or running business processes such as new hiring. In the international context it has also provided the unintentional advantage of permitting those who may not ordinarily have been able to attend a meeting or event due to budget or costs restrictions to sign up online and take part.
More frequent meetings, shorter and more focused agendas
So much time is wasted in long meetings and conferences but online has forced us to recognise our powers of concentration probably do not extend much beyond 90 minute sessions and that breaks are important. The opportunity here is for shorter, more focused meetings and then more frequent rather than perhaps annual meetings to explore more thoroughly or more effectively a specific topic.
Losing the human touch of physical interaction
Online meetings are not a quick fix; they require a well-trained team to run them and perhaps a different type of planning and organisation then conference organisers have been used to in the past.
There is a strong risk of losing the sense of community that physical events can traditionally bring; the networking, social and informal interaction, meeting new people and — especially for less experienced participants — the chance to begin to learn and to belong. It is going to be harder to start for those just beginning in a role than for those established working groups who may have several years of collaboration behind them.
We all also have to get used to no longer being really “out of the office” for a conference and we are much more liable to have colleagues or managers demanding our time in a way we would not have seen in the old days of flying around the world to attend international events.