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Business and work have changed significantly in the past few years. Many companies continue to operate on a predominantly remote basis, while some folks are engaging in increased travel now to make up for lost lockdown time. That’s one reason why companies and teams should make it a priority to get together in person once in a while, at least where you can safely do so.
How often those in-person meetings and events take place will depend on several factors, including your business, your team members, where you’re based and more. Even if you face obstacles to making in-person events happen, however, it’s worth the time and effort it takes to work around those challenges.
Here are six reasons why in-person interaction is more important than ever.
1. It builds morale and loyalty
Before the pandemic and the widespread adoption of remote work, most coworkers interacted regularly at the same workplace. That daily, consistent contact helped form relationships and rapport, which helped create company loyalty and a sense of belonging.
For employees who have never met in person, or haven’t in quite some time, those relationships have been negatively impacted or are nonexistent. That in turn can lower employee engagement and morale, ultimately resulting in increased turnover rates or lower productivity rates. To turn that trend around, give your team members an opportunity to meet and get to know each other in a relaxed, low-stakes environment outside of remote work connections.
2. It enhances creativity
Most of us have witnessed the exponential increase in brainstorming and creative processes that comes from the simple act of team members putting their heads together. Even random interactions can trigger creative thought and new ideas. A conversation over drinks can result in a game-changing idea. An in-person meeting after a long period of remote work can turn into a whiteboard full of exciting new ideas. Although remote work technology helps power team collaboration, forming in-person connections helps fuel the cross-pollination of ideas that leads to deeper, more meaningful creative work.
3. It’s the right thing to do
The great Greek philosopher Aristotle was correct: Inherently, human beings are social creatures, and we share more in common than differentiates us. Even though studies tend to show that there are roughly as many introverts as there are extroverts, the vast majority of people need some kind of social interaction to maintain emotional and physical well-being. When we restrict or eliminate all opportunities to get together face to face, we make it more difficult for the team members to perform both individually and as a group.
4. It shows you care
As a founder or high-level employee, you know your actions speak louder than words. One of the best ways to show your team members that you value them and their contributions to your business is to create opportunities for in-person socializing on the company dime. When you prioritize these get-togethers, you’re showing your employees that you care about them, their happiness, and their well-being.
5. It’s fun!
All work and no play makes you and your employees sad, tired and overworked. You probably work with these people for 40 hours a week, after all. When you spend time making the effort to get to know them, and letting them get to know you, you’ll enjoy a better working experience. And truly, couldn’t we all use a little more fun after the last few years?
6. You would have spent that money anyway
In the world before widespread remote work, you would have allocated part of your budget for team activities that now no longer take place. What’s more, those activities probably would have cost more than the casual in-person event you’re considering now. If you’re concerned about the bottom line, focus on the significant ROI your company will enjoy when you empower a more personal connection between your team members.
It’s still crucial to practice the social distancing, masking and vaccination guidelines that make in-person gatherings safer during a pandemic. Additionally, you’ll want to talk with other participants about their individual comfort levels. Many of your team members may be immunocompromised, or have particularly vulnerable family members. Their comfort levels may be quite different from other employees.
Look for ways to meet everyone’s needs where possible, and ensure no one gets penalized for needing to keep their distance. After all, the point is to create enjoyable experiences for your team members.