Opinions were once divided on holding client meetings at home or outside a professional space: some consider it unprofessional while others think there’s no problem as long as the environment is professional, and the meeting goes uninterrupted.
Things are different now. With a global rise in working from home and flexible working, many of us are running our business or conducting our work from various places. Meetings with clients are an important part of this work, so we have put together a guide on the the best way to hold professional meetings, whether your teams are at home, in the office, or both.
Before planning any meetings
As the rules on social distancing measures in the UK post-lockdown change and develop, it is vital you stay safe. Always check the Government advice on COVID-19 or see our Latest Official Resources.
Maintain a professional business space
For many of us, we now have a dedicated space to work in at home as well as an office. Keeping a separate area at home to be used exclusively for business matters not only helps you separate your public and private lives, but also allows you to create a professional space for client interaction. You’ll find things become difficult if you have to constantly re-arrange shared space to suit both business and pleasure.
If you are having a meeting over an online platform such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, be sure to check your background while you’re on camera. Keep it as uncluttered and tidy as possible so you won’t be distracted as you present or chat with clients.
Choose the right time
A lot of us will have a different average working week now, with possibly more than one person working from home and scheduled days in the office. Plus, children and their schedules have to be worked around for parents.
If you have children, holding client meetings from home during the day, when they are at school or otherwise occupied will be the best choice. If they are younger, working around sleeping habits is best, although you can inform your client you have young children – most will be extremely accommodating. COVID-19 is reshaping company culture and people across the world are finding new ways to manage, with compassion being key.
When in the office, choose a time that works best for as many people in the meeting as possible. Try not to choose hours when most people will be taking a lunch break or, if the meeting is likely to have a lot of content or work to be completed soon after, avoid the very end of the day, when minds are tired and people are trying to tie up the loose ends of the working day.
Other factors that influence when you hold your meetings could be local traffic, public transport provisions, and client schedules. Communication before the meeting is crucial, to make sure everyone has enough time to dedicate to the meeting.
Setting ground rules
Maintaining professionalism is often harder with home-based businesses because there is obvious crossover between your public and private life. Family members or housemates may not appreciate the impression you wish to give off when dealing with clients, so it’s important to discuss this in advance. Many of us are now working with loved ones, but setting some ground rules in any situation is always a good idea.
Interruptions, except in the case of emergencies, may make you feel unprofessional, but remember we are all human and you can only do your best to avoid them. Lest we forget the classic entrance of Professor Robert Kelly’s children and wife as he chatted to the BBC. In both office and home working situations, deal with interruptions as calmly as you can and remember to be kind to yourself. No one is perfect.
Make sure everyone is on the same page to avoid problems during meetings, which includes discussing times and locations that work well for everyone. Read our guide to working as a team post-lockdown to help you.
Holding your meeting in a public place is an alternative to home or the office, as long as safety measures are carefully followed. Planning ahead is essential to mitigate the disadvantages of these options, such as excess noise and crowds. Some public spaces are better than others:
Restaurants – holding meetings in restaurants can go down well but will soon get expensive, particularly if you set the standard high. If you regularly entertain clients consider asking restaurants to provide you with discounted prices.
Libraries – not all libraries enforce silence. Wide, open spaces in libraries provide plenty of opportunity to spread materials and documentation, and there are normally computers with internet access available for use. Some libraries even have meeting rooms with useful conference facilities which can be rented out at very competitive rates
Coffee shop meetings – These are typically inexpensive and easy to find. Meetings held there are not subject to rigid time constraints which can be beneficial if things overrun. Whether they are appropriate for you will depend on the nature of your business.
Bars and pubs – bars and pubs are not appropriate for meetings, for both professional and practical reasons. Aside from the atmosphere being impractical for conducting a serious business relationship, excess noise may encourage misunderstandings and prevent progress being made.
Rosie meeting room at Workspace Grand Union Studios
Commercial facilities specifically designed for holding meetings and entertaining clients provide impressive spaces at cost-effective prices. We know a thing or two about some of the best spaces in London.
Workspace meeting rooms are flexible and available across London, giving you space and the very best in technology. Plus, you’ll be joining a network of over 3,000 businesses who call Workspace home, creating networking and collaboration opportunities.
Hotel conference facilities – hotel conference facilities typically cater for large numbers of delegates rather than smaller meetings. Amenities typically include hot and cold refreshments, whiteboards and projectors and, in some cases, lunch. Prices vary widely depending on the size of the room and the hotel’s location.
Business clubs – business clubs are upmarket establishments that offer both business and leisure facilities to members. They can be found in most major cities. Annual prices range from £300 to £2000+, with the price dictating the level of on-site amenities, how often they can be used and whether additional supplies are provided.
Back to business with Workspace
As well as our well-equipped meeting rooms, Workspace offers a wide variety of office and studio space for companies of all shapes and sizes.
Client safety is our top priority, and we appreciate returning to your Workspace might seem daunting, so we have plenty of guidance online to how we are managing health and safety.
New to Workspace? We offer flexible spaces near you so you can continue to do business. Our buildings are spacious and have plenty of comfy breakout areas too. Come and see what we can offer your business and choose from over 60 spaces across the capital to run your business.