Key differences between remote, hybrid, and on-site meetings

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What a difference a year can make! Meetings that were simple and direct interactions between individuals and institutions have now evolved to take various forms. Hybrid meetings, online events, and remote meetings have all become the new normal, and moving from face-to-face meetings to virtual meetings took only a few months. 

But what exactly are the differences between remote, hybrid, and on-site meetings? 

While the events industry has leaped to co-opt technologies, what’s also inspiring is how different sectors have welcomed and integrated these new formats. From education to healthcare to journalism and the private and public sectors at large, everyone now knows that they have several options for meetings now.

In order to know which format could work best for your event, it’s important to understand the differences between remote, hybrid, and on-site meetings. So we’ve defined each format for you! Along with its advantages and disadvantages, as well as the best use cases for each.

What are remote meetings? 

Remote meetings or virtual meetings are held completely online. These use pre-recorded content along with video streaming to connect people in different locations. Companies with dispersed teams use remote meetings to enhance collaboration. Organizations also use remote meetings to engage with their clients and share documents.

Companies can also host a specific website for internal and external stakeholders when remote meetings are for a particular topic of interest. That will allow participants to know the content and prepare before the virtual event. It also enables them to access the sessions after the event. 

Advantages of remote meetings

No travel needed. The number one advantage is that you cut down on travel expenses. Anyone can attend a remote meeting as long as they have an internet connection and a device for videoconferencing. 

Smarter resource allocation. When you save on travel and other expenses needed for an on-site or a hybrid event, you can use that budget to develop your content and scale up your technology. 

Flexibility in choosing partners. On-site events would need local event organizers, which would limit your choices. But for a remote meeting, you can choose a partner from anywhere in the world that would suit your budget.

Greater reach. There’s a limit to the number of participants for an on-site event, regardless of the size of the venue. But you can increase your reach and make it as diverse as you’d like if it’s virtual. 

Greater access. People with disabilities might find it challenging to attend on-site events, especially if they’re far away or if the infrastructure has accessibility issues. But there are no such restrictions for remote meetings. 

Disadvantages of remote meetings

Less direct interaction. Remote events can’t facilitate or foster personal interactions like on-site events. This would make remote events seem impersonal to the participants.

Distractions. Since people could be participating from their homes or even cafes, they could get easily distracted.

Technological problems. Any lag or disruption with the internet connection can dampen the atmosphere and make the participants feel left out. 

When to use remote meetings

The format is ideal for web conferences, webcasts, and webinars. Human resource teams can use these to hold training sessions online. Companies can also organize conferences with multiple partners or clients from different locations or even continents.

What are hybrid meetings? 

Hybrid meetings are a combination of virtual and on-site events. There will be both virtual participants and in-person attendees in a hybrid meeting.

In other words, there are two sets of audiences in a hybrid event. Organizers will have to ensure that they embrace virtual technology to create a seamless and value-added experience for both in-person and remote audiences. 

Advantages of hybrid meetings

Greater engagement. Participants who prefer to attend the event in person will be more engaged with the content and the speakers. This also allows for meaningful connections between the participants.

Compliance with guidelines. While more people are getting vaccinated, hybrid meetings could be an effective alternative for those who might be hesitant to attend events on-site. 

More flexibility. People from different cities or even countries who can’t travel would prefer hybrid events. Since they get rid of travel and lodging costs, thus increasing audience participation, more events are now having a hybrid component.

Content diversity. Since these events have to cater to two groups of participants, the content and its delivery will usually be imaginative and inspiring.

Intra-organizational collaboration. For a business spread across several cities or countries, hybrid events allow on-site audiences to participate from one location while employees and associates are in different locations. 

Disadvantages of hybrid meetings

Difficult to execute. While theoretically, it can bring together the best of both worlds, its execution has significant challenges. They take longer to plan and would need the involvement of more team members. 

Different experiences. On-site attendees may have a better experience of the event as presenters and panelists would be naturally inclined to involve them more. Off-site audiences may feel left out of the proceedings or think that the content delivery is not suited for their needs. 

Unfamiliar format. Although they’re gaining traction, hybrid events are still new for both organizers and, more importantly, participants. 

When to use hybrid meetings

Hybrid meetings can be the right medium for conferences with an assured number of on-site attendees and virtual participants. If you’ve got a product or service to launch, hybrid events would be the right format. 

What are on-site meetings? 

As the name suggests, on-site meetings are held at a venue with the participation of a physically present audience. There’s a pre-determined number of attendees and a schedule that’s created to optimize their experience. These face-to-face meetings happen with fewer distractions and greater audience engagement.

Advantages of on-site meetings

Greater involvement. Participants at on-site events will be more involved as the content delivery will feel more personal and direct. Since they will be able to read the body language of each other, they will also feel more involved. 

Networking opportunities. On-site meetings are fertile grounds for networking. All the casual interactions during breaks provide opportunities to expand one’s professional network. 

More attention. With a limited number of attendees in a confined space, both the speakers and the participants will be more attentive toward the content and its delivery. 

Enhanced feedback. Since there’s a limited number of participants, there will be more opportunities for Q&A sessions where panelists will have more time to answer questions. 

Disadvantages of on-site meetings

Higher costs. Either the organizers or the attendees will have to allocate budgets for travel, lodging, and other expenses. If there is inclement weather or other restrictions, there could be cancellations which will further increase the costs. 

Scheduling challenges. Since participants have to be physically present, the event will have to be scheduled well in advance, considering everyone’s availability.

When to use on-site meetings

When you have a limited number of participants, or if it’s an internal or external meeting between key stakeholders, or when it’s necessary to limit external participation due to confidentiality issues, it’s better to organize on-site meetings. 

In short

The ability to adapt quickly will be the hallmark of successful events in the new normal. That would mean understanding the needs of organizers and participants and choosing between remote, hybrid, and on-site events.

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Published on

Nov 12, 2021

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