Face-to Face Still Matters
Generation Y is quickly taking over the world, quite literally. By the year 2020, they will represent the largest number of workers around the world. We have all heard the stereotypes of the tech-addicted, socially awkward 20-something, but the research paints a much different picture. You might suspect that Millennials shy away from face-to-face interactions in favour of virtual communication, but a survey by the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), International Association of Exhibitions & Events (IAEE), and The Experience Institute found that Gen Y desire to attend live meetings and events even more than older generations 1. In a similar study, CT Business Travel found that 80% of Millennials prefer face-to-face meetings when communicating with their colleagues, compared to 78% of Gen Xers 2.
Though we are living in an increasingly virtual world, in-person communication in the workplace continues to thrive. Face-to-face interactions provide professionals with personal connections and deeper relationships, a shared mission or purpose, and a sense of empathy for their co-workers. These are just some of the many benefits that are produced during productive, well-managed meetings. However, with hectic schedules, interruptions, and distractions in the office, it can be tough to plan and execute a truly productive meeting. One way to ensure you have an influential and successful meeting is to host the event away from the office.
Benefits of Off-Site Experiences
First, moving meetings to a different location can drive focus and spark creativity. Employees are not distracted by their typical day-to-day environment - they are not being pulled away from tasks by customers, deliveries, or any other interruption that are all too common in the office. By getting out of typical workspaces and away from the same desks and offices they see everyday, employees can concentrate fully and completely on the learning experience being provided.
Companies such as Authentic Escape, a company who specializes in corporate events planning, offer events in places with ‘authentic character’ such as country houses, vineyards, jungles, and chalets all over the world. If you have the budget for a large-scale retreat or seminar, using an outside company can help ease the pain of logistics and let you concentrate on the event’s true purpose, whether it be a team-building workshop, a leadership conference, networking event, or training program.
Though not every off-site meeting needs to be a grand adventure, unusual locations can help employees disconnect from daily stress, gain perspective on the future of their company, and enjoy some time exploring a new place with co-workers.
"Bringing the team to unusual locations provides a scenario where the person increases their focus, thus the learning curve steepens in a short period of time.” Marliz Bermudez, APM Terminals (via Authentic Escape)
Second, off-site locations are designed to host meetings and events in a way a typical conference room in an office is not. Having grown up with new technologies, Generation Y thrives in hi-tech workspaces and may lose concentration when it takes 10 minutes to attempt to play a three minute video. Meeting rooms, conference spaces, and other areas specifically designed for corporate events are equipped with different and new technologies that can help you be creative and effective in presentations and discussions. Large video screens, whiteboards, moveable furniture, wi-fi, and built-in audio are just a few of the many resources that can all improve the professionalism and quality of a meeting.
Google, a pioneer in creating collaborative workspaces, found that offering its teams a comfortable, original, and colorful workspace stimulated higher levels of creativity and productivity 3. An inspiring environment pushed employees to their limits and in turn, had a positive impact on their productivity. Though you may not be able to provide such an environment in the office everyday, an off-site meeting is a great opportunity to try out the newest innovations in communication technology and innovative design.
Finally, off-site meetings can boost employee moral. The very nature of being out of the office and in a different location allows for employees to gain new experiences. Catered meals, fun games, and team-building activities give employees something to look forward to, and can help coworkers bond and learn more about one another. Hosting a meeting in an unusual location can also increase attendance and excitement surrounding the event. In fact, the Gen Y rated “in a location with many activities” and “in a location with a prestigious image” among their highest motivations to attend a meeting or event1.
Article written by Megan Allen with GAIA Insights in collaboration with Authentic Escape