In Real Life

Four years ago, most clients and agencies had to rethink their strategies for meetings. They were forced to communicate exclusively via phone and video call, and terms like “Zoom” and “Google Meet” suddenly became commonplace. However, many people forgot how much more productive a meeting can be when you bring a group of people together in a room to brainstorm ideas.

This post originally appeared on our company website and is translated here from my original German text.

When I led a team of developers in a previous position, I began exploring the efficiency of remote work and evaluated the pros and cons of the available tools. It quickly became clear that many people thrive when they can work where they want. Others struggle when they can work from the sofa in their pyjamas. Motivation fluctuates, and although the technical or creative quality of the work may not have immediate negative effects, a project can suffer in the medium or long term from the reduced level of contact.

Creativity needs company

Many people—especially clients—work better and gain more confidence and trust in collaboration when they can sit at a table with other project participants. Spontaneous ideas arise more easily; ideas quickly fly around the room; there is a tangible sense of working together on the project. This is often lost when we don’t take the time to spend with the project team. The client is the most important stakeholder in any project, and it is our duty as service providers to ensure that the client gets what they need.

When working in our industry and having the advantage of reliable public transportation, you only lose work time if you go to meetings unprepared. If I have a laptop and an internet connection, I can easily spend a few hours traveling to and from a client, catching up on emails or writing a blog post. (Just like I did with this post, by the way.)

It’s easy to be more efficient throughout the day when you can switch from meeting to meeting by just changing browser tabs. I often use this approach for simple tasks or administrative discussions. But there’s nothing better than packing my laptop, taking the train, and sitting in a room with a client to plan or expand a project.

That doesn’t mean that endless “meetings that could have been an email” aren’t counterproductive. Meetings and workshops need clear goals and measurable outcomes. As a developer, working with colleagues in the same room can often be less efficient than retreating to a quiet space where you can focus on tasks. Then you definitely need silence. Emails, Slack, and smartphones are muted, and headphones are on. This is an extremely valuable counterpart to the creative phase of a project, where exchanging ideas with others in the room is the best way to work.

Thanks to the easy use of video calls and the direct sharing of our screens with clients and partners, our work at Say Hello has always been open and flexible. I mostly work in our office in Spiez, but sometimes I’m at home, in a co-working space, at a partner agency’s office, or working on the go. Due to the sudden increase in the use of modern communication technologies, it makes no difference to our clients whether I am in the Bernese Oberland, in Graubünden, or in Scotland. When I attend a conference elsewhere in Switzerland or abroad, I am always reachable: this ensures our clients that their projects and websites remain well-supported.

This flexibility and the shift in everyday practices in more traditional companies also allow us to work with people from more distant regions, benefiting both us and our clients. However, this online communication only partially replaces in-person meetings: when a conversation can be kept short, the collaboration between agency and client has been practiced over a longer period, or there is no possibility for an on-site meeting.

You can save a few hours of travel time by setting up a video call, but there’s hardly anything more productive than meeting in a room and brainstorming with people.

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