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How In-Person Convening Builds Powerful Team Connections

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Bored with Video Meetings? Delight Your Team Through Recurring In-Person Meetings

There have been many benefits to organizations embracing a virtual-first model. Not only have they been able to widen their talent pool, but they've also been able to save valuable resources by no longer renting big, expensive office spaces that have been sitting empty in the past few years.

But with the rise of virtual workplaces, many teams still need to catch up on at least one essential aspect that traditional office spaces provide: socialization.

Convening in person is essential to maintain morale and build solid and lasting relationships with coworkers. Not only that, but interpersonal and team collaborative skills always develop best in person.  Whether it’s a regular quarterly gathering or an occasional team-building outing, gathering your team together in-person offers an invaluable opportunity for socialization, engagement, collaboration and connection.

With some insight from Eric Bates, we share some benefits of planning regular, in-person meetings and events.

The Benefits of Regularly Scheduled Company Gatherings

Connecting our teams together is a critical component of developing a cohesive and productive work environment.  Whether that connection is done virtually or in person can have a huge influence on the effectiveness of our teams.  As masterful conveners of all types of groups and teams, we have first-hand experience with planners who have proven the highly successful outcomes of ongoing, in-person meetings.  Seasoned planners know that in-person gatherings build a sense of togetherness and camaraderie that is much more powerful than the occasional digital gathering can provide.

Here are a few benefits of physically gathering your team together in a thoughtful, meaningful way:

Fosters Better Communication

A good in-person gathering will allow your team to share their ideas and concerns in an open forum, which helps everyone feel heard and seen. Being together creates an opportunity for people to have deeper conversations than they would via email or Slack.

“Simply put, you cannot read body language virtually,” Eric says, “being physically in the presence of others does affect how we communicate, network, and collaborate.”

Strengthens Relationships

Team members are more likely to build trust and respect with each other when they can share experiences in person. As a result, teams become more productive and effective when they work together.  Bates says that often, it is what we learn from someone while on a break, refilling a coffee, or sharing a meal that allows us to connect with each other on a different level and find commonalities we may not have known existed.  It’s what he and the team at Wingspread refer to as ‘whitespace’:  the unplanned, unscripted parts of our gatherings that can be just as important as the purposefully informative portions.”

Promotes Creativity

Collaborating in the same room encourages people to think outside the box and devise creative solutions for problems that may have seemed out of reach before the gathering.  Bates says this happens when participants piggyback on another person’s thought-starting idea.  It’s too easy to stay quiet on a virtual call and let others have the conversation.  When we are together and have built relationships, the collaboration happens more organically and effectively.

Fights Stagnation

Sitting in meetings all day can be draining—but getting up from your chair and into an interactive environment helps recharge your team’s energy levels and refresh their perspectives on projects or tasks.  Taking a break from a challenging problem or difficult planning session - even if just for a few minutes, helps teams refocus and see things from different perspectives.  Keeping our thoughts out of silos created from the stagnation of ideas leads to innovative problem solving and breakthrough performance opportunities.

Encourages Open Dialogue

It's always important to nurture an environment of openness and honesty at work. In-person gatherings allow team members to speak up, ask questions, and share their thoughts without worrying about any social stigma or online anonymity that virtual meetings can sometimes create.

“When everyone feels encouraged to contribute, a mosaic of ideas develops,” Eric says, “many times the best ideas come from the quietest members of the group who would otherwise be too uncomfortable to add their thoughts virtually.”

Creates a Sense of Community

In-person gatherings create a stronger sense of togetherness and unity. Everyone gets to connect on a much deeper level, which helps to develop strong, lasting relationships within the team.  Whether that team returns to a virtual working environment or an office-based one, the connections will be progressively stronger with every off-site gathering.

Our recommendation? Get your virtual team together at least four times per year.  Bates says, “We believe a mix of lighthearted fun, business-related structure, and unplanned white space comprise the secret sauce that encourages teams to reach new levels of performance.”

In-person convening typically ranges from two to four days. An off-site workday can include group meetings, coworking in an office-like environment, team-building activities, and plenty of opportunities to embrace the "white space" where the real magic of informal moments takes place.

By getting together in person, you will be able to create a meaningful space where team members can come together, learn from one another, and develop strong relationships that will last long after the gathering is over.

Get your team together regularly and let them know how important they are to the success of your organization. Retaining the best talent on your team is strategically important - more today than perhaps ever before.  It's worth taking the time to invest in your group and encourage them to grow together.  With a talented meeting planner on your side, making the commitment to support your team is effortless and your employees will thank you for it!