For many industries, hybrid or distributed teams have become the norm.

But some leadership experts will tell you that bringing coworkers together in-person should not be forgotten. In fact, doing so can go a long way to building trust and increasing productivity.

“There’s nothing quite like connecting with your colleagues face-to-face,” says Allison Hill, the CEO of Pragmatic Thinking and co-author of Work From Anywhere. “It’s important for managers to create opportunities for hybrid or distributed teams to connect on both a personal and professional level.”

Read on to find out when it makes sense to bring teams together and how often to do so.

One reason to bring your team together? For onboarding and introducing new hires.
Onboarding and introducing new hires is often easier to do in-person.

Why Should You Bring Your Team Together In-Person?

1. To Start Something New
It’s worth meeting face-to-face whenever you have a kick-off, recommends Liane Davey, the co-founder of 3COze and author of The Good Fight. “Anytime there’s a new start is a good time to be in person,” she says. That could mean preparing for the next fiscal year, launching a project, or even welcoming a teammate.

2. To Set Goals or Make Plans
Hill believes holding planning sessions in-person is valuable, particularly when teams need to discuss areas of growth and set the tone for the future (whether it’s for the year or the quarter). “Gathering for off-sites that aim to align and give direction for the team has the short-term benefit of providing a sense of belonging,” says Hill. “In the long-term, it offers team members a shared history and language they can use when discussing goals.” Generally, people are more invested in goals that they help set; coming together in-person is a great way to make sure that they feel involved and heard during that process.

3. To Tackle Challenges
Davey notes that if a team dynamic is struggling, that’s a sure sign it’s time to get everyone in the same room — and not a virtual one. “If anything is going wrong or there are issues that people aren’t able to address remotely, it’s important to get together and talk about it,” she says. Body language and tone are easier to read when you’re not communicating through a screen, and can go a long way in helping get everyone on the same page.

4. To Bounce Ideas Around
It’s possible to brainstorm ideas on your own remotely, but if you’re working as a team, it’s much more difficult. “If you want to bring divergent ideas together, and innovate and get creative, that’s a great time to meet in person,” Davey says. Coming together can help your team members build on each other’s ideas and get inspired in a way that can be challenging to achieve over Zoom.

5. To Socialize
All work and no play…well, you know. Both Davey and Hill stress the importance of giving teams the time and space to connect on a personal level. Activities could include a team lunch or scavenger hunt. “You don’t have to pay a lot of money for anything — even a dozen bagels can help strengthen a team,” she says. Bringing your team together regularly for bonding can help with retention — and is especially important when there’s a new teammate who hasn’t had a chance to meet everyone in-person.

6. To Have 1:1 Meetings
In-person meetings between managers and direct reports are a great way to establish and maintain a connection — be it weekly, bi-monthly, or quarterly, as your locations allow. “It can be incredibly beneficial…to check in and discuss performance goals in an informal setting,” Hill says.

Industrious partnered with the company to build out workplaces that its employees would love, so it could balance retention and expansion.
How often you bring your team together depends on how frequently you’re able to gather and what your goals are.

How Often Should Your Team Meet In-Person?

The number of times per year your team should meet up is really a question of geography. If coworkers live relatively near each other — versus being spread across different time zones — frequent meetings are easier to arrange.

Hill suggests thinking about the meeting in terms of what you’re trying to accomplish and how critical it is to the team. “With many distributed organizations having teams made up of individuals working in different states and countries, in-person meetings are generally relegated for conversations and activities of the utmost importance,” she says.

For example, if enough team members are local to each other, and you’re primarily looking to boost team dynamics or bonding, consider establishing a certain number of suggested in-office days per week, but leave things relatively loose. If one-on-ones are important — or there are specific projects that regularly require team brainstorms, you can get a little more formal. However, if your team is fairly spread out, and you primarily want to meet for planning purposes, you might want to consider bringing everyone together for a few days at a time on a quarterly or semiannual basis.

Ultimately, though, what’s important is finding moments for your team to come together, however often works for you. “If you have people in different countries and once a year is all you can do, that’s fine,” Davey says. “If your team is all within an hour commute of each other, you could have a huddle once a week.”