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In-Person Meetings vs. Video Conferencing For Construction

In-Person Meetings vs. Video Conferencing For Construction

In the Construction Industry, many meetings must occur for a project to move forward safely and efficiently. These meetings include OAC (Owner, Architect, Contractor), pre-construction, contractor, and design meetings. An effective project life cycle is achieved through collaboration conducted in a systemic and organized manner.

In today’s interconnected world, businesses and individuals have access to a wide range of communication tools. Two popular methods for conducting meetings are in-person and via video conferencing. Each approach offers unique benefits and accommodations, which must be considered for each meeting. The best setting or vehicle for collaboration is vital to the project team’s overall productivity.

What has to be weighed is can the outcome be the same for the subject matter being reviewed, whether a meeting is conducted in-person or virtually. Geographical, financial, and timing constraints also need to be considered. Some meetings are more efficient in-person than virtually. Ultimately, can a productive resolution be reached based on the participation method?

In this article, we will explore the benefits of both in-person meetings and video conferencing to help you make informed decisions about which communication method to employ for your future meetings.

In-Person Meetings: The Power of Face-to-Face Interaction

Project kick-off meetings are a prime example of when an in-person meeting is most valuable. This meeting allows all the participants to meet their team members and see how their role fits into the project. This promotes a more cohesive team.

  • Non-Verbal Communication: In-person meetings allow for the full spectrum of non-verbal cues, including facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. These cues facilitate better understanding, build rapport, and foster stronger relationships.
  • Personal Connection: Meeting in person allows for a personal connection, which can be crucial for important negotiations, building trust, or addressing sensitive matters. Face-to-face interactions often create a deeper sense of engagement and empathy.
  • Collaboration and Creativity: In-person meetings can stimulate collaboration and creativity through spontaneous brainstorming sessions, interactive workshops, and team-building activities. The energy and synergy generated by physical presence can lead to innovative solutions and stronger teamwork.

Other construction industry meetings that are more productive in person include weekly subcontractor, financial check-in, safety, project milestone, and other meetings that require multiple team members.

Video Conferencing: Bridging Distances and Embracing Efficiency

Advancements in technology have made video conferencing a viable alternative to in-person meetings, especially if they save travel time for on-site employees and contractors.

  • Geographic Flexibility: Video conferencing enables teams and individuals from different locations to connect seamlessly, eliminating the constraints of distance and travel costs. It allows for global collaboration, remote work, and the inclusion of participants who might otherwise be unable to attend an in-person meeting.
  • Time and Cost Savings: By eliminating the need for travel, video conferencing saves valuable time and reduces expenses associated with transportation, accommodation, and other logistical arrangements. This cost-effectiveness makes it an attractive option for routine meetings or discussions that don’t require physical presence.
  • Efficiency and Productivity: Video conferencing can streamline meetings, leading to shorter, more focused discussions. It enables quick decision-making, facilitates information sharing through screen sharing and document collaboration, and allows participants to multitask efficiently.

Meetings that work well virtually include smaller (attendee) construction meetings, check-in, weekly AOC, and submittal review meetings.

In-Person Meetings or Video Conferencing: Factors to Consider

Opting for an in-person meeting or video conferencing depends on various factors. These factors may require scheduling hybrid meetings.

  • Purpose and Nature of the Meeting: Consider the objectives of the meeting. Are you focusing on relationship-building, negotiations, or brainstorming? In-person collaborations are often preferred for high-stakes discussions that require personal connections and nuanced interactions. Video conferencing is suitable for routine updates, project status reports, or discussions where physical presence is not critical.
  • Time: Assess the time and effort required for travel. If the meeting involves a significant investment of time and resources, video conferencing may be a more practical and efficient option.
  • Logistics:
    • On-site wifi connectivity. Are there issues?
    • On-site environment. Is it conducive to a quality meeting?
    • Impact of malfunctioning equipment or technical issues. Can the meeting afford to take place without a participant?
    • Technological literacy or etiquette of the participants. Do they allow for a productive meeting?
    • Need for spontaneous collaboration? Does there need to be a whiteboard?
    • Is it a last-minute meeting?
    • Is screen sharing part of the agenda?
    • Are required participants being brought to it last minute?

The construction world requires trusted teams to work together from project start to closeout and beyond. Selecting the proper communication methods throughout a project’s life cycle is key in ensuring all client expectations are met and projects move forward on schedule and within budget.