Juliet Lawson
Juliet Lawson
Associate Director

Articles From the Team

Is the face-to-face meeting dead?

It’s a funny old time just now. With the Covid pandemic came a pretty sudden and lengthy hiatus to face-to-face business meetings.

I still remember my last meeting before we were all ‘sent home’. We were all maintaining social distance by then, a brand new term in our lexicon. There was the laughing awkwardness around a perfunctory elbow bump as opposed to a strong handshake, but other than that, it was like any other meeting.

I live in Manchester but most of my clients are in Leeds, and I used to be on the delightful Transpennine Express to Leeds on a weekly basis. And yes, I complained as much as the next person about the unreliability of the service, and the chunk it took out of my day.

And then they all stopped...

And then with time, we all started to get used to that most hideous of expressions, the ‘new normal’. Team meetings took place over Zoom, interviews and meetings took place over MS Teams. For a while I seemed to have more ‘meetings’ than ever before. Where before I’d often just have got on the phone to a client, suddenly they wanted to chat over Zoom or Teams, where to be perfectly honest, a constructive conversation over the phone would have served exactly the same purpose without being distracted by the sight of my own face on a screen!

We’ve all got really used to them though, to the point that now that we can meet again in person, it still seems to be the default option to meet over a screen...

And this can make perfect sense in some situations. If you’re part of a national team that needs to have group discussions about workflow, WIP, new clients and projects, delegation of work etc, and you’re all in different offices around the country, this kind of productive planning has been done perfectly well over Zoom or Teams for the last 18 months. It’s saved a ridiculous amount of travel time and wasted hours, leaving everyone to get on with what they were doing.

If you manage other people, the last year and a half has shown us that in the main, it’s perfectly possible to do that without sitting in the same room every day.

That’s all well and good, but at the same time, if you really want to make connections and build rapport that leads to strong business relationships, I think there’s no substitute for sitting around a table with people, talking face to face, engaging in sociable small talk before getting down to business and picking up all those social clues that are so hard to see over a screen.

And if you want to maintain a strong culture in your own organisation, rather than feel like a rather disparate band of workers who don’t really know each other, it makes a huge difference to have a proper team meeting sometimes, or to sit next to someone and talk them through something that they’re struggling a bit with, or get together for drinks and food, and celebrate that we made it through to here and we can do these things once again!

So I for one am looking forward to more time in the office, more time out for team drinks and god forbid, even more time on the Transpennine Express!

There’s a happy medium to be struck though, where some days you can cut out the commute and just get stuck in at home and others, you’re in the office, catching up with your colleagues, or out on the road meeting clients or candidates. Most firms are going down this path, and it seems to be what most lawyers want. Blended roles are very much the way forward for most.

If you feel that you’re not getting the happy medium where you are, in the currently very buoyant job market, you can be assured that there’s a firm out there for you.

If this strikes a chord and you’d like to consider your options, please do get in touch.

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