Business organizations should always have one eye on the future, and for any modern, forward-thinking business leader, that includes thinking about the future of meetings. After all, business meetings take up a significant amount of the working week — research suggests that the average worker currently spends the equivalent of 23 days per year in meetings – so it’s important that this time spent is both productive and useful.

So, what will meetings look like in the future? How will the concept itself evolve? What role will technology play? How will meeting spaces change? Read on to learn more about what meetings will look like in the future, what the latest trends are, and how you can prepare!

the future of meetings in 2022

The Future of Meetings: Top 3 Trends

1. The Future of Meetings is Omnichannel

First, one of the things experts tend to highlight is the anticipated growth of omnichannel meetings, where rather than having one agreed method, such as in-person or video conferencing, meetings in the future will combine several approaches. This could mean some people being physically present in a meeting, some using video conferencing technology to attend meetings remotely, and others participating via telephone or even instant messaging. Going forward, you may even start to see a clearer role for virtual reality within business meetings.

Essentially, the meetings of the future will be about breaking down barriers and meeting people where they are, in the ways they want. Technology has already allowed for hybrid meetings, where both in-person attendance and remote attendance can function alongside one another, and omnichannel meetings will be a further evolution of this. For businesses, the main challenge here is ensuring that the in-person and virtual experiences intersect in such a way that meetings deliver what attendees need and want, regardless of their method of attendance. Making intelligent use of the most advanced telecommuting equipment is one significant part of this equation.

2. Greater Ability to Scale Up and Down

One of the greatest advantages that businesses have discovered through the rise of virtual meetings is a much greater ability to scale meetings up and down at will, without costs spiraling out of control. This means more people can attend the meetings that are relevant to them, reducing the overall number of meetings that need to be held.

Beyond this, the ability to meet remotely has also allowed meetings to scale in terms of geography too. Attendees can attend a virtual meeting without having to physically travel to the location, which opens meetings up to multiple branches of a business or people in other parts of the country, and events can even happen on an international scale. However, smaller meetings are better for active participation from all attendees. Fortunately, technology is going to provide solutions to that too – for example, software solutions like ViewSonic’s myViewBoard already offer breakout rooms, allowing for smaller meetings or ‘sub-rooms’ to be formed away from the main virtual meeting space.

3. In-Person Meetings Will Remain Relevant

With the growth of working from home and the benefits of video conferencing, it is easy to get carried away with the idea that the future of work will be people operating and interacting remotely. Yet, predictions that suggest physical meetings will die out entirely tend to ignore the clear value they still provide, as well as the social benefits. Meeting with people in-person can help to encourage spontaneous conversations that spark some of the best ideas that businesses have. Beyond this, some workers simply do not like working from home, and they may value the idea of interacting with people up close and dislike the effects that social isolation can have.

In some cases, such as in businesses that do not have physical office spaces, meetings may be the only time people working in the same company are actually present in the same space, and this will make the in-person experience more important rather than less important. Physical meetings are here to stay, but the line between physical and remote meetings will become more blurred, allowing more people to interact in the way that best suits them.

The Future of Meeting Spaces

Now that we’ve covered some of the general trends you might expect to see in the coming years when it comes to the future of meetings, it’s helpful to give some thought to how the meeting spaces of the future may differ from what we are used to seeing in the workplaces of today.

1. Relaxed Meeting Spaces

An important adaptation that businesses need to get to grips with quickly is the so-called ‘millennial shift’. In 2020, the millennial generation accounted for roughly 40 percent of the US workforce and by 2025, they will account for 75 percent. As a generation, they are partially defined by a desire for flexibility and work-life balance. This desire for flexibility and work-life balance has already started to influence meetings, with many workplaces adopting more casual meeting areas or huddle rooms, allowing for informal, impromptu get-togethers to take place.

Even with more traditional meetings, which are arranged in advance, the rooms are becoming more comfort-forward. This relaxation-centered future for meetings is also being influenced by a greater emphasis on employee well-being. That is not to say that formal, boardroom-style meetings are going to die out, but it is likely that a greater number of meeting rooms may feature furniture designed for comfort, more informal décor, and more flexible setups.

2. Demand for Conference Rooms

Despite the lack of business travel due to the pandemic, the continued growth of MICE tourism (meetings, incentives, conferencing, and exhibitions) is another important trend. It is expected that demand for conference rooms and similar spaces will continue to increase. More businesses are likely to still organize meetings, events, and conferences away from their own location.

A related future trend, which has already started to emerge, will be greater demand for booking meeting spaces on short notice, for short time periods. In much the same way that companies like Airbnb helped to transform the tourism industry, similar platforms are likely to help shape the future of MICE tourism and meeting space bookings as well. Hotels are also transforming their rooms into offices and offering remote working packages for remote workers to have meetings in a private, conducive environment. There’s also likely to be a greater overlap between business travel and leisure travel, with employees extending their trips to enjoy the area they have traveled to. This combination of business and leisure activities – known as ‘bleisure’ – has already seen significant growth and is something companies will need to keep in mind.

The Future of Meeting Technology

Lastly, in addition to having an eye on what the future of meetings may look like, in general terms and in terms of meeting rooms, it’s worthwhile to consider how technology may help to shape this future of meetings as well.

Virtual Reality (VR)

It may seem like people have been anticipating a virtual reality breakthrough in almost every industry for years now, but there are signs that the technology could have an important role to play in business meetings, especially when it comes to helping remote workers to feel more connected to one another. We’ve already seen some early examples of VR solutions for business meetings, but while the potential for meeting other people in a virtual environment is clear, the full benefits of this have not yet been fully realized.

One of the issues here is uptake, as although the VR market has grown substantially, many people still do not own a VR headset. Nevertheless, the potential for the technology remains, and as conferencing software starts to embrace VR more, it could greatly aid with everything from social interactions to gamification, all leading to better remote meetings.

Data-Based Decision Making

Another major technology trend that will help to define the future of meetings is improved access to important information and data, on-demand, in real-time. This has already started to happen, but as virtual conferencing platforms advance and portable devices continue to become easier to use, this is only likely to improve. The result will be the ability to make much more informed, data and evidence-driven decisions, without delay and regardless of whether people are physically present in the meeting or participating remotely.

This is significant because one of the most common complaints with business meetings relates to a sense that they are often unproductive or do not have a clear purpose. When informed decisions can be made in the meeting, based on information that can be easily accessed, meetings can become much more productive.

Summing It All Up

Having better meetings enhances your business and elevates the happiness of your employees. Any business looking to gain a competitive advantage would do well to think about the future of meetings and how these gatherings may change in the years ahead. Although technology trends can be unpredictable, it’s possible to get an idea of how future meetings will look based on what has already started to happen.

What seems clear is the fact that meetings will be more flexible, especially in terms of how people attend. Going further, meetings will become easier to scale up and down, more relaxed, and more focused on productivity and well-being.

(From the editor: This article was originally published on ViewSonic Library.)