Is it better to run a one-on-one in person rather than through video chat?

During @shwetaneelsharma’s masterclass webinar: How To Build a Thriving QA/Testing Team With People-First Leadership, the following question came up:

If given the opportunity, is it better to run a one-on-one in person rather than thru video chat?

Via Tony Sabal.

What do you think? What are some of the benefits and disadvantages of running 1-2-1s in person vs over a video call?


I think in person variant can be more relaxed and more productive because of that.

You can grab some lunch and talk while eating, instead of just focusing about thinking on issues you need to address when it’s done online.

I think it’s more spontaneous when done in person - and I’m saying this as a big fan of remote working!


Such a great reminder, Mirza. It feels like such a long time ago since I’ve done that.

When working in the office and running 1-2-1s with my team, I’d often ask if they were up for a walk and talk. Stepping away allowed both of us to see things from different perspectives (figuratively and literally!).

And during 1-2-1’s with one of my previous managers, he’d do the same.

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A seemingly innocent question! The answer as with most subjective questions - it depends! On the side of remote working though - for many, many technical discussions it’s been easier for me to screen share and see the problem in front of me, rather than leaning over a shoulder to do the same - the tech is just better. If it was only about having a chit chat, I’d rather meet over a coffee face-to-face (the gurus who know about such things claim that proximity helps build relationships).

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Like @danuk says “it depends”.

As for more technical to be discussed topics a virtual shared videocall can help more. But also there it can have breaks, a virtual lunch or coffee (rather do that instead of lunch) where you can step aside from the technical issue and do some small talk and expand your social skills. :slight_smile:

Or - like I like to do it - combine the technical calls with others as a Pair Testing/Mob Session/Exploratory Session and upgoing calls keep them short when seeing each other live :wink:


I prefer to have my 1on1s in person (ideally a walk and talk if the other person is up for it, but it does depend on what we have to discuss that day), but I like the flexibility online meetings offer as well.

For me the biggest benefit with the in-person 1on1 is that it feels like it’s easier to build a connection.

The biggest benefit of an online video call is that we have the flexibility to do it from home (and thus run errands over our lunch break etc. when needed).

Context: I work in a hybrid setup where we are expected to be in the office once a week.

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I feel like they lend themselves to different scenarios.

Video calls can be really good if you want to collaborate and share information. It lends well to using software and technology within the discussion. For example I might share something I’ve worked on and we can chat about the Jira ticket or Mural together. I think its weirder doing that in a small meeting room with someone, both on our laptops.

Conversely if I want to talk - whether it is an opportunity to vent, talking about career or just a general blether then in person can be a lot better.

I think the spontaneous conversations @mirza mentioned can happen in both scenarios. In the office I’ll start chatting about work things but remotely I might be get more of the personal aspect. Perhaps there’s something about having a glimpse into our personal lives when doing them remotely. I’ve had a few spontaneous conversations just because in that awkward silence a cat has walked in or there’s a book in view etc.

I’ve never had the opportunity to try going for a walk, which might be nice. But then again I do live in Scotland and its winter so perhaps not any time soon…

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This is another great reminder of the importance of context when applying a methodology/approach to anything. Thanks, Richard.

Just a few years ago nobody would even think about asking such a question. In person meetings were standard for decades… basically since we invented the first company, lol.

In today’s world everything changed. I would say: it depends. Why? Because some people are introverts, some don’t like their own looks, some have 2-hour commutes so they rather work from home etc etc.

Personally I think nothing can top 1-1 in person, because like you all know, majority of our communication is non-verbal and you simply don’t get that kind of communication over a video. Sure, at least people turning their camera is a must on 1-1, otherwise you cannot get even that little non-verbal communication that you get in person.

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  1. I wouldn’t want anyone to come into an office for a 1:1, if they are not already frequently making use of the office, and they don’t have other reasons to come in.

  2. I think it’s always worth giving some context ahead of a 1:1, to reduce anxiety and surprises, this can be even more stressful in person, if you’re traveling for a 1:1. Make sure any topics you want to discuss as a manager are made obvious upfront.

  3. Given the opportunity to have at least some 1:1 time in person with a manager, totally worthwhile if it’s in a safe, and distressed environment.

  4. Finally, obviously, simply not available all the time. My manager is in another country, and we don’t get to meet up in person. So 1:1 over video call is the next best thing.