By Todd Shea
2023 President
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors

The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the way we work and interact with one another. One of the most significant changes has been the rise of virtual meetings, which have become a mainstay in the business world and with our local Santa Barbara real estate brokerages and our Santa Barbara Association committees and board of directors.  As the world begins to reopen, many businesses are considering hybrid meetings combining in-person and virtual attendees. Check out some of the pros and cons of Hybrid meetings.

Pros of Hybrid Meetings

1. Flexibility

Hybrid meetings offer greater flexibility than in-person meetings. Attendees can choose to participate in person or remotely, depending on their location, schedule, and preference. This flexibility can make it easier to schedule and coordinate meetings, especially for businesses with remote or distributed teams, making everyone very efficient.

2. Cost Savings

Hybrid meetings can also be more cost-effective than in-person meetings. Businesses can save on travel expenses and meeting room rentals by allowing some attendees to participate remotely.

3. Increased Accessibility

Hybrid meetings can increase accessibility for individuals with disabilities or other limitations. Remote attendees can participate in the meeting from anywhere with an internet connection, making it easier for individuals who may have difficulty traveling or attending in-person meetings.

Cons of Hybrid Meetings

1. Technical Difficulties

One of the main drawbacks of hybrid meetings is the potential for technical difficulties. Remote attendees may experience connectivity issues or difficulty hearing or seeing the meeting. This can lead to delays, confusion, and frustration for in-person and remote attendees.

2. Decreased Engagement

Hybrid meetings can also lead to decreased engagement among attendees. Remote attendees may feel disconnected or disengaged from the meeting, decreasing participation and contribution. Additionally, in-person attendees may become distracted or disengaged very easily.

3. Difficulty Building Relationships

Hybrid meetings can make it more difficult to build relationships among attendees. In-person meetings allow attendees to connect and interact on a more personal level, which can help build trust and rapport. Remote attendees may feel isolated or excluded from these interactions, leading to difficulty building relationships with in-person attendees.

Pros of In-Person Meetings

1. Personal Interaction

One of the main benefits of in-person meetings is the opportunity for personal interaction. In-person meetings allow attendees to connect on a more personal level, build relationships, and develop trust.

2. Higher Engagement

In-person meetings can also lead to higher levels of engagement among attendees. Attendees are more likely to participate and contribute when physically present, leading to more productive and effective meetings.

3. Better Communication

In-person meetings can also facilitate better communication among attendees. Nonverbal cues and body language are easier to interpret in person, which can help avoid misunderstandings and improve communication.

Cons of In-Person Meetings

1. Cost and Logistics

In-person meetings can be costly and time-consuming to organize. Businesses may need to rent meeting spaces, provide travel and accommodations for attendees, and coordinate schedules. Additionally, in-person meetings may be less flexible than hybrid meetings, making them hard to coordinate.

2. Limited Accessibility

In-person meetings may also be less accessible for individuals with disabilities or other limitations. Attendees may need to travel to a specific location, which can be difficult for individuals with mobility issues or other disabilities. Additionally, in-person meetings may be less accessible for remote or distributed teams.

3. Environmental Impact

In-person meetings can have a significant environmental impact, particularly if attendees need to travel long distances.

While I feel that we should not just forget about amazing technology, which allows virtual meetings from anywhere in the world and is super efficient. I do feel that in-person meetings, at least once a month or more, should still happen if possible, as the energy, connection, and collaboration are so much more powerful in person. REALTORS® are using this virtual technology to better assist their clients with virtual walkthroughs, video tours, and FaceTime videos through properties. These are a fantastic way to assist buyers and sellers connect and highlight properties efficiently and with clients not local.

Embrace new technology, but always remember that a human in-person connection is very impactful. 

Todd Shea is the 2023 president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors (SBAOR). He is a California licensed real estate agent with the Zia Group powered by eXp Realty here in Santa Barbara. He has served on and chaired several committees within the SBAOR and served on its board of directors. Todd can be reached at 805.453.7730 and or message and follow @toddshearealtor on Instagram. 


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