The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things globally, and one of the most notable changes has been our move to virtual meeting platforms. Admittedly, video conferencing tools have been around for ages. But it was this pandemic and the need to stay connected even amongst lockdowns and quarantines that finally pushed us to embrace these technologies.Virtual meetings unite us when circumstances like geography, weather, schedules, and crises prevent us from coming together. Virtual meetings were once a rarity and were often awkward, but online events are a normal part of socialising education, and working life.
CircleLoop offers virtual meetings and conference calls through a virtual phone number for various business types, from small startups to large organisations. This tool is necessary for efficiency and productivity in any business. This year has proven to be an excellent time to make the shift just like the rest of the world has, enabling communication to be a stress-free experience.
Advantages and disadvantages of virtual meetings
Online meetings eliminate the space-time concept because anyone can use virtual meetings in any place and at any time.
There are advantages and disadvantages to consider, just as there are with other company implementations. For instance, audio communication can be achieved utilising VoIP phone systems, speakers and headphones.
One of the critical advantages of online meetings is real-time point-to-point communication, which is an essential component in the corporate world; it is tough to run a business without technology!
We've outlined some of the main advantages and disadvantages below.
Minimal spend on travel and expenses
Reduced travel means less spending on things like flights, accommodation, food, and catering. Instead, this money can be reinvested into the organisation for research and development, hiring, personal growth, and resources.
Clients and employee engagement across locations
Virtual meetings enable the sharing of ideas across audiences, increasing participation and contribution.
Inclusive workplaces for those who are unable to travel
Virtual meetings are easily accessible to people who need to be in them - whether they join from home or another country.
Less direct contact
Companies will need to find ways to ensure teams and clients can build good relationships - this may mean having occasional face-to-face meetings or scheduling specific times for social calls. This leads to a change in meeting etiquette.
Difficult to organise
For facilitators, virtual meetings can prove challenging to manage as you can't rely on everyone having access to the same meeting technology or physical resources. Experts in remote teamwork often recommend adopting this rule: if anyone is virtual, everyone is virtual; meaning that any meeting with remote participants should be moved entirely into the virtual meeting space.
Technology issues - be it audio, visual, or internet connections - are common in meetings; they take up time, degrade the impact of content, and reduce engagement.
Fun activities to engage with meeting participants
An excellent way to get employees and all remote team members engaged in meetings is to begin every meeting with a fun icebreaker or activity. It will encourage all remote workers to feel included early in the session.
Show and tell
Virtual teams should be encouraged to share and connect. Show and tell lets team members show off personal or culturally significant aspects of their life. This is an activity that usually works best at the end of virtual events. It provides a way of understanding your team better.
Group energiser games
Involve team members with fun activities that get everyone engaged. These can be pretty simple question-based games with Yes/No or multiple choice answers.
Get connected and compete virtually with the team. Online games have the added advantage of being designed for remote play. They have features and objectives that help people engage with one another and tend to be friendlier to large teams.
The state of virtual meetings worldwide
A company named Polly surveyed more than 500 workers and compiled quantifiable data on the state of virtual meetings in 2021.
These are two of the most exciting takeaways:
- We spend five times more time in meetings than we did before.
Before the pandemic, workers reported spending two hours each week in virtual meetings. The average time has now ballooned to 10 hours each week. This means that we spend a quarter of our work week in virtual meetings.
- Meeting fatigue is real, coupled with a lack of personal connection.
In 2021, time spent in virtual meetings increased five-fold. This has made the number one challenge of virtual meetings fatigue. One of every three respondents named "too many meetings" the greatest challenge of this new way of working, resulting in a lack of a personal connection to teammates and colleagues.
Virtual trends for conferences and meeting events
Today, virtual meetings are used for everything, from small online team building activities to larger corporate virtual events. This has presented new challenges for event planning, where new methods and ideas have needed to be taken to move forward. Below are some of the ideas shaking up the virtual meeting space in 2021.
2021 saw the rise of hybrid events. As the vaccine started rolling out worldwide, it became possible to begin hosting in-person events again. Unfortunately, some people have not been comfortable attending physical events and conferences so soon into the vaccination process. Enter hybrid events: event planners can host an event or meeting in one physical location with a limited number of attendees while providing an online hub for virtual attendees to participate freely.
Real-time interpretations and live translations have become a fundamental feature of hybrid and virtual events. Since some virtual meetings and conferences are targeted towards a more global audience, online event planners must invest in live translators and interpreters to easily allow foreign attendees to participate in a more inclusive event.
Online meetings, like everything else in life, have benefits and drawbacks. They are, without a doubt, the most cost-effective, convenient, and time-saving means of communication now available. However, they substantially limit human connection and are not always easy to organise.
Virtual meetings can help you keep informed, trained, and updated, regardless of your time zone, location, or financial position, if you use trusted technologies like CirceLoop and still meet in person from time to time.
If you are interested in getting a robust communication system for your business, check out our VoIP system features.