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When to host virtual meetings and when to go in person

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020 it caught everyone off guard and almost everyone was working from an office in town and physically going to meetings no matter if they were located in the same city or a different country. Several times I have tried hosting a meeting in Sweden and then the clients came all the way from Canada just to be present. We did things the way we’ve always done them even though our methods was built on hundreds of years old habits.

The pandemic forced us to break up our old habits and find new methods to do the stuff that we did before. Not everything could be done the way we were used to, in fact most people had to relocate their office to the living room and start using softwares like Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack and Zoom just to be able to talk to their friends, family and coworkers.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought many disasters and tragedies, but it also helped us update our old habits and find new ways of using technology. This article will dig into which types of virtual meetings that are out there and most important when it is most sustainable/environmental friendly to go to a meeting in person or when to host it online.

Which types of virtual meetings exists?

Since the pandemics start we have seen an explosion in apps and softwares that offers virtual meetings, but the most common ones are listed here below.

  1. Microsoft Teams
  2. Zoom
  3. Skype
  4. Slack


The list above provides good choices when it comes to apps and softwares that are available to computer, tablet and phones. But there are also other ways of hosting a virtual meeting and that is by using VR technology. Entering a meeting in VR gives you an interactive environment where you can talk and do visual stuff together with other participants. You can also use other features such as screen mirroring which comes in handy during presentations. Below we have listed some of the most popular VR meeting apps available today.

  1. Spatial
  2. MeetinVR
  3. Glue
  4. Horizon Workrooms


Benefits of virtual meetings and vise-versa

There is no doubt that both hosting meetings in Virtual reality and in person has its own unique set of benefits. Virtual meetings are good when the participants live over longer distances or when meetings are visual. Meetings in person might be better when you can walk or bicycle to the place and it makes it easier for the participants to read faces. 

Virtual meetings are new to us and therefore we haven’t been able to develop a sense of reading facial expressions or make use of common curtsies through the screen. You have probably tried before that both you and a coworker is talking at the same time resulting in ping ponging back and forward till you both end up with awkward silence. This happens both because of the latency but also because it is harder to read facial expressions and the other factors when having a virtual meeting. Normally you use lots of brain power reading your fellow peoples expressions but through a screen that task becomes a lot harder.

Before sounding like virtual meetings aren’t great, then we should remember that through virtual meetings we have the opportunity to interact and meet up with people over long distances. We have the change to be in the same virtual room and look at the same presentation, drawing, screen or do the same activities. This means VR for example brought us closer than ever now that we can be together even when we are not.

When to go virtual and when to go in person

This question has no specific answer and it is up to the individual to make the decision about when to go virtual and when to go IRL (In real life). The question has been lingering in my head for a few months and after deliberating with myself over and over again, I finally made up my own policies for when to do one or the other.

I personally believe that it all comes down to sustainability/environmental impact. If I have a meeting in the city and it is possible for me to either walk or bicycle to the location, then i rather want to go in person. It also depends if the other participants have the same opportunity as me and if that’s the case, then showing up in person might be the choice with the least environmental impact. 

Also when having the first meeting with clients I believe that a good first-impression is important, therefore if the distance isn’t too far I would prefer a meeting in person.

If the distance is long for one or more of the participants in a meeting i believe that a virtual meeting might be a better choice. Of course virtual meetings cause carbon dioxide pollution since the servers have to process lots of data but the impact is smaller than taking the airplane or drive.

I hope that this article have given You some inspiration to how You can use virtual meetings in your business and when it is the right time to use it. All the stuff we have learned through the pandemic is something we should remember and incorporate in our every day life so that we improve the way we run our businesses. Just because we are going back to the office doesn’t mean we should give up all of our new tools.