The meetings of the future are independent of time and space
How do we meet today and how do we want to meet in the future? The meeting landscape is constantly changing, and today’s meetings need to be flexible, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable. To transform the meeting landscape, we need to change the way we look at meetings – by going beyond time and space.
The pandemic has shaken up how we look at meetings and nothing is the same. Digital meetings are as obvious as they are boring. People want to meet physically but do not want to spend too much time traveling. Companies are cutting their travel budgets and carbon dioxide emissions need to be reduced.
It is no longer enough to make digital versions of physical meetings or to return to only physical forms of meetings. The participants have much higher demands than that.
To meet the needs of the future, meetings need to expand to something beyond what we know today. In an increasingly flexible working life, not all meetings need to be linked to a geographical location or specific time.
Next-generation meetings get past digital variants, hybrid meetings, and physical meetings. It is meetings that put the purpose first, are more environmentally sustainable, and inspire more active participation.
Continuous meetings – meetings that are independent of time
Continuous meetings are meetings that are not limited to a given time. These are meetings that take place over time, in various forms. Instead of holding in-house training for a limited number of days, the content is divided into different forms. It can be a recurring webinar, a physical kickoff, and a digital education. It increases commitment and flexibility because participants can join on their terms and do not have to set aside full working days for education.
Since there are more meetings during a given period, it opens up more opportunities for pedagogical arrangements in, for example, education. Continuous meetings are much more than an hour’s calendar-booking – it’s a new, creative way to meet.
Continuous meetings can be created around a physical fair, as an example. Before the fair, the booth staff undergoes digital sales training and the fair participants can book digital meetings with each other. This allows participants to take the initiative and create digital encounters around the physical.
In this way, meetings are created that last a very long time and in various forms, with the physical meeting as a basis, says Mattias Strauss, operations manager at InvitePeople.
Read more about how Management Events developed its business model with Continuous meetings.
Digital hubs are not limited by geographic location
With the help of local hubs and digital tools, it is possible to link teams from different places. It enables teams in different offices or regions to meet physically but at the same time meet other colleagues digitally. Instead of gathering all the employees in one place, they travel to a few gathering places. That way employees can make contact with their closest colleagues, at the same time as they can meet others via digital forums.
Reducing travel makes a big difference to the environment because a physical meeting emits 94% more carbon dioxide than a digital meeting. A reduction in travel thus makes a difference for both the environment and the economy.
Sustainability is one of many important aspects. In 2017, business travel to conferences with more than 50 participants accounted for almost 10% of all global carbon dioxide emissions, says Mattias.
When companies increase the proportion of digital and hybrid meetings, they reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, compared to if they had the same number of physical meetings. This means that both companies and event organizers can contribute to a more sustainable world, by finding new, creative forms of meeting. In this way, they can make a difference in the environment and be part of the company’s sustainability work.
When meetings become less dependent on time and space, there is an opportunity to increase participation and create more commitment. Digital meeting forms open up for greater participation and other flexibility. It also places higher demands on those who hold the meeting, to create engaging content and high participation. With flexible meeting methods, time and space can become less important, while companies can offer their employees creative ways to meet. The meetings of the future are so much more than an hour’s meeting.