People go online — how virtual meetings are transforming business and personal communication

The most important:

  • In 2020, compared to 2019, the number of personal online meetings increased by 1,230%, and group meetings by 613%.
  • Online meetings accounted for 42% of all meetings in 2020, but are growing rapidly.
  • Nearly 65% ​​of companies in the UK reported increased productivity from their employees working fully or partially remotely.
  • 70% of companies in developed countries have long-term plans to implement and develop the remote work concept.
  • Group meetings most often last about 60 minutes, personal meetings are one-half to one-quarter that length.
  • Over 46% of all remote meetings in 2020 were between employees within a company.
  • 65% of companies representing different countries and sectors of the economy reported that they did not lose a single client after switching to an online work format.
  • Only 32% of companies believe face-to-face meetings are more important than online communication.
  • In 2019, less than 50% of all online meetings were held using a mobile phone, in 2020 this figure exceeded 60%.

Demand for virtual meetings is on the rise

During 2020, the number of virtual one-on-one meetings held online (typically using video) increased by 1,230%, and the number of group meetings increased by 613% compared to 2019 totals. It may seem that the key drivers of such impressive growth were quarantine restrictions and the transition to remote work. But, do not rush to conclusions. If we compare, say, 2018 and 2019 (when the pandemic had not yet had a global impact on business processes), it turns out that the average increase in virtual meetings reached 600%. Despite all the restrictions, even in 2020, the online format accounted for only 42% of all meetings. The pandemic has become a catalyst for the process of changing the paradigm of business communication, while the changes are still not happening as quickly as they seem.

Anatomy of virtual meetings

According to Doodle research, in 2020 the most popular group meeting format included an average of five people per meeting (in Western Europe, meetings were attended by more people, 8–10 on average). The situation was largely unchanged compared to 2019. However, most group meetings lasted about an hour.

Sales go online

For years, it has been widely believed that not being able to approach a customer is a recipe for decreasing sales. Confidence in this belief was so high that few seriously tried this approach. But, the pandemic has given companies a tough choice: go online as much as possible or leave the market altogether. The majority chose the first option, and it turned out that many previous fears were unfounded. A 2020 Doodle survey showed that 65% of respondents representing different countries and sectors of the economy stated that they had not lost a single client, and 30% of those surveyed reported that clients were less likely to cancel virtual meetings, compared to their face-to-face counterparts.

Perceptual Issues

It may seem that the widespread use of remote communication solutions and the transition to remote work only brings advantages, but this, unfortunately, is not entirely true. There are also some shortcomings. One of the key problems is that not all employees, especially those over the age of 50, have mastered all the tools and skills of digital communication. This somewhat reduces the overall productivity of the company. Although, of course, adaptation is a matter of time.

The future is in mobility

If we talk about long-term forecasts, then as we move forward, more meetings will be held online. This applies not only to business meetings within a company but also to work with clients, as well as interviews when recruiting. The meeting format itself reduces the time spent. There is a growing body of evidence that short meetings are more productive and help reduce the likelihood of employee burnout.

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