It’s pretty amazing how quickly the workforce adjusted to the new hybrid workplace model. Within just a few months, thanks to the adoption of digital collaboration and hybrid workplace management tools, remote teams were up and running — and in many cases they were even more productive than they had been before.
While it’s impressive to see what teams can accomplish virtually — such as meetings, brainstorming sessions, and team-building games — there’s no real substitute for live, face-to-face interactions. For this reason, you should consider holding all one-on-one meetings in person, if possible, in order to build stronger connections with your team.
Reasons Your 1-on-1 Meetings Should Happen in Person
Here are some reasons to consider holding your one-on-one meetings with your hybrid team in the office:
There Are Fewer Distractions
A 2023 survey from Zippia, a career resource site, found that a jaw-dropping 67% of participants admitted that they get distracted during virtual meetings. In fact, 55% of workers said they check their email during remote meetings!
At home, your team members face a number of potential distractions, such as pets, visitors, kids, and more. It’s also easier to get sidetracked by incoming emails, text messages, and other work tasks during virtual meetings.
In-person one-on-one meetings, on the other hand, ensure you don’t have to worry about technology or connection issues. In the office, it’s easier to ensure you have your team members' full attention, and that they have yours.
They Make It Easier to Connect on a Personal Level in the Post-Pandemic Workplace
Pew Research found that 60% of remote workers feel less connected to their coworkers. It's true: There’s nothing like in-person interactions when it comes to building a rapport among colleagues. With physical cues more visible, it’s easier for you and your team to interpret body language and sense emotions, facilitating a connection and mutual understanding.
In-person meetings can grease the wheels for natural and spontaneous communication. Team members might feel more comfortable talking about sensitive or challenging topics in person than they would through a computer screen. Small talk also arises more readily in person than it does over a screen, and it’s often these “watercooler chat” interactions that count the most in developing relationships.
They Demonstrate the Value of Your 1-on-1 Time
By setting a policy of holding in-person one-on-ones in the hybrid workplace, where virtual collaboration is the norm, you’re sending the message that these meetings are particularly valuable. For this reason, your team members are more likely to come better prepared and take to heart what you have to say.
In-Person 1-on-1 Meeting Best Practices
Here are a few helpful tips for making the most of your one-on-one meetings.
Book Regular, Recurring 1-on-1 Meetings
With each team member, set up a regular time for recurring one-on-one meetings that work for both participants. This allows you both to plan ahead, bring topics to the table, and even look forward to each meeting. Consider holding these one-on-one meetings weekly.
Build a Rapport
Many companies don't do enough to make their employees feel valued and engaged. Get personal! Treating team members like people instead of buzzing, faceless worker bees goes a long way toward engaging and retaining employees. Holding these one-on-one meetings in person gives you a valuable opportunity to humanize the interaction, making it easier to relate to your team members as individuals, not just as professional colleagues.
Come Up With Open-Ended Questions and Prompts
Open-ended questions and prompts allow you to hear from each team member, in their own words, what's important to them. You don't want to ask questions that elicit nothing but one-word answers. Not only does that make the other participant feel like you don't truly care about what matters to them, but it also denies you the opportunity to learn anything meaningful from what they have to say.
Talk Less and Listen More
Listening is among the most important skills a manager can develop, and it’s an especially pertinent skill in a one-on-one meeting. Without the potential distractions that tend to undercut remote meetings, you can practice active listening. You're not just doing this to hold a nice conversation, either; you're listening carefully to support your team to the best of your ability. It's important that you truly hear what they have to say!
Give and Receive Feedback
Feedback is important to give and receive in any working relationship. By trading feedback, you and each team member will build mutual trust and understand each other's expectations, goals, and objectives. It also helps keep your team members engaged, improves communication, and lifts morale.
Provide Goals and Objectives
Your team members can use these one-on-one meetings to discuss their career aspirations, and you can share your guidance on how they can advance within the organization. You can also use this valuable time to ensure your team members' behavior and actions align with the company's goals and values. This helps the whole team stay on track while working toward shared objectives.
The Argument for In-Person 1-on-1 Meetings
While the hybrid workplace model's virtual collaboration has showcased teams’ remarkable adaptability, you shouldn't overlook the stronger impact of in-person interactions. Moving one-on-one meetings into the office within the hybrid work model offers undeniable benefits, including fewer distractions, increased productivity, better camaraderie among teammates, and a greater emphasis on why these meetings are important in the first place.
In the post-pandemic hybrid workplace, prioritizing personal connections will yield a more engaged and cohesive team, which will in turn foster a thriving and resilient culture at your organization.