Since the pandemic, videoconferencing has become part of our private lives, allowing us to continue to have drinks with family and friends despite confinement or distance, or to take a yoga class without having to leave the house. In business, with the spread of remote work, video conferencing has almost completely replaced physical meetings. Today, Zoom, Skype and Google Meet are among the most widely used tools for making video calls with colleagues working remotely.
However, despite an increase in the number of video conferences, it is questionable whether virtual business meetings will completely replace physical meetings. Let’s compare the advantages and disadvantages of these two ways of meeting.
Video conferencing vs. physical meeting: the pros and cons
Find out what the pros and cons of secure virtual meetings and face-to-face meetings are.
Benefits of Video conferencing
- Video conferencing is an effective communication and collaboration tool for bringing together dispersed teams. You can organise meetings with your employees who are teleworking or working in offices located abroad or elsewhere.
- You save on travel costs and possibly accommodation costs because your employees no longer have to travel to attend a meeting.
- According to a study by Beekast and OpinionWay, 70% of managers find remote meetings more efficient and faster than face-to-face meetings.
- According to the same study, 68% of managers surveyed found that remote meetings encourage speaking up because shy employees speak up more easily behind their screens rather than in a meeting room.
- Technology improves virtual meetings. For example, participants can exchange messages and documents during the meeting via instant messaging. In meetings with participants who speak different languages, speech recognition can be used to generate live subtitles. Finally, some software can automatically record and transcribe the meeting to keep a written record.
Benefits of Physical meeting
- Human contact is the main advantage of physical meetings. You get together with your colleagues around a table to discuss, debate and/or solve a problem. Personal relationships between employees develop more easily and trust and camaraderie are established.
- In a face-to-face meeting, you can find out what your colleagues are really thinking by seeing their reactions and analysing their non-verbal language, such as body language, to a new project or a difficult situation.
- A well-prepared and well-facilitated physical meeting can be very productive. Management, motivation and valuing the work of the team often have more impact face to face than at a distance.
- In a physical meeting, participants are more involved. They can hardly divert their attention or do anything else, especially if the meeting is dynamic and participative.
- Finally, physical meetings are indispensable for establishing a solid relationship with a client, for example, or for dealing with an important issue (negotiating a contract, celebrating an important event, etc.)
Disadvantages of videoconferencing
Network problems, poor Internet connection, pixelated images or inaudible sound, the use of digital tools often involves technical problems, connection problems and breakdowns that are a hindrance to the productivity of the meeting.
- Security and confidentiality of exchanges can be a problem depending on the type of software you use.
- The lack of human contact is a major disadvantage of video conferencing. Remote working and the abuse of virtual meetings can be detrimental to the development of personal relationships between team members. It is difficult to exchange glances or pleasantries with colleagues and body language, which is essential for knowing what participants are really thinking, is indecipherable through a screen.
- Beware of zoom fatigue, a real phenomenon caused by the abusive use of video conferencing.
- It is easier to divert attention from a video conference. According to the Beekast and OpinionWay study, 68% of executives say that they sometimes divert their attention and 50% say that they regularly have difficulty following a remote meeting to the end.
Disadvantages of physical meetings
In face-to-face meetings, shy employees do not necessarily speak up and/or do not dare to state what they think or give their true opinion for fear of being judged. They are more likely to speak in a video conference, hidden behind their screen.
- In the case of geographically dispersed teams, physical meetings can represent a significant cost for the company if all participants have to travel to the meeting venue.
- If poorly organised and facilitated, face-to-face meetings can be time-consuming, boring, and lead to no tangible results. Follow these tips for facilitating a team meeting.
Videoconferencing and physical meetings: two essential tools
Both forms of meeting have their advantages and disadvantages. While videoconferencing is very practical when part of your team is working remotely, physical meetings are still important for strengthening team cohesion and relations between employees. The choice of one type of meeting rather than another will therefore depend on several factors such as the objective of the meeting, the number of participants, the culture of your company, etc.
The ideal is to combine these two modes of operation as much as possible. For example, if you can, try to bring your employees together physically several times a year to develop a sense of belonging to the company and the team, and to foster relationships between your team members.
Finally, follow these tips for organising a good virtual meeting, and discover the 10 best video conferencing tools to equip yourself properly.