These days it’s a lot easier to communicate with people without meeting them face-to-face – thanks to mobile email, multimedia phones and wi-fi-enabled laptops, we’ve usually accessible wherever we go. The result, says hotel group Crowne Plaza, is that more and more of us are forsaking the office for our business meetings, preferring to chew the fat over a meal, on the bus or even on the beach. According to a survey they’ve just done, 54% of business people surveyed said face-to-face encounters in an office are more old hat than a Roman legionary’s helmet.
Instead, these execs (most of whom probably completed this survey in a hotel, to be fair, which must skew the results slightly) prefer to go further afield: a fifth said they’d conduct meetings on public transport, while a similar proportion were happy to tie up deals when they were supposed to be on holiday (including a shameful 10% who’d secured deals on Christmas day – bah humbug). Restaurants are also popular meeting venues, and we’re not just talking about working lunches any more – 35% of respondents prefer evening meals to talk shop, while 21% opt for power breakfasts.
But the most notable beneficiaries of our new-found enthusiasm for ‘offline meetings’ appear to be golf clubs – a third of respondents said they’d rather conduct a meeting over a round of golf rather than stuck in an office, while 10% regularly do business as they’re wandering the fairways. That’s twice as many ten years ago, suggesting that some old habits die harder than others. ‘It’s quite reassuring that in this sea of change some traditions are actually becoming more popular,’ reckons CP’s Chris Hale. ‘Signing a deal on the 19th must be as satisfying as getting a hole in one’.
Of course, it sounds extremely civilised to shoot the breeze with potential clients as you stroll across perfectly manicured greens in the sunshine – and in this sense, we’re not surprised that so many people see it as a preferable alternative to the office. On the other hand, the fact remains that the golf club is still largely seen as a male preserve, symptomatic of a very male way of doing business. So we’re not convinced this is a particularly progressive development...
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