How will face-to-face communication help your business succeed?
CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on work life
Agile working is not a new idea. Over the years, many companies have adopted a more flexible approach to work, allowing their employees to work where, when and how best suited to the task at hand. Technology has been key to agile working, with software like Slack, Skype and Zoom facilitating virtual meetings, allowing employees to collaborate remotely and management to send important messages at the touch of a button.
But even for companies that are already embracing agile working, and for employees who are happily working remotely and using digital channels, nothing could have prepared us for just how important virtual communication would become in our work. In many cases, technology has replaced our morning coffee chats, team meetings, and weekly recaps.
The argument for virtual communication
Tech at Work has enabled people to do jobs they might not have been able to do 20 years ago with relative ease. There are several advantages of virtual communication. It’s convenient, time-saving, flexible, and can be cost-effective as businesses use less desk space. The use of digital tools fits perfectly into an agile way of working, as employees can easily work remotely, participate in virtual meetings and follow company presentations from their kitchen tables.
There are clearly several benefits of virtual communication, and digital tools are particularly important in a climate where we might otherwise not be able to get our jobs done – but now that face-to-face communication in the office is possible again, companies will choose to do so at one stay virtual or use pre-pandemic communication styles?
Why is face-to-face communication important in business?
Face-to-face communication in business is not only important for customer discussions, but also for maintaining a strong corporate culture and team spirit. Going to the office has long been the norm for people working in so-called “desk jobs.” Many of these types of jobs involve communicating professionally with others through meetings, gatherings, discussions and also in a personal sense. In the last decade in particular, there has been an increasing focus on corporate culture and employee engagement and how these can drive business success.
So when we ask how we can improve face-to-face communication, we’re not only referring to face-to-face meetings, but also to the other aspects of work that help employees bond with their colleagues and become more engaged in their work.
What are the advantages of face-to-face communication?
Video conferencing vs face-to-face meetings
Much research has been done on the value of in-person meetings versus virtual meetings. With the constant advances in technology, it’s now easier to dial in, make eye contact, and video chat with people. Tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, and FaceTime work seamlessly, allowing teams to meet like they would in an office.
Even so, managing every single call over video can be a challenge. Anyone who’s used Zoom will have experienced that awkward moment when someone talks over you and it can be difficult to get your point across, especially on a group call. Aside from setting a clear schedule and leading a person, it can be difficult to set clear rules so people don’t interrupt each other.
Real-life communication works both ways, and that’s why face-to-face meetings in the workplace are so important. Some of the benefits of meeting in person include the ability to communicate clearly, assess body language, save time, and increase efficiency.
relationships at work
Personal communication at the workplace can play a major role in day-to-day work. Building connections with colleagues ensures employees feel part of something. Even a quick chat over lunch can help employees feel closer to their colleagues, more comfortable, and therefore more involved in their work. This is more difficult to achieve via video or phone calls. One of the main advantages of face-to-face communication in the workplace is that you can perceive thoughts and feelings; No matter how focused you are on making eye contact over video, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand body language and facial expressions. This can strain working relationships and make it difficult to communicate effectively in the workplace.
Many companies ensure they maintain their corporate culture in the age of remote work by building a remote community via Zoom or Slack. That’s valuable, but it raises an important question – are people speaking the same way they would at work or at a social event?
While there are many benefits of digital communication in the workplace, it’s far more difficult to feel a part of and engage with members of your team when you’ve never met or barely spoken to them in person.
The future of communication in the workplace
There are benefits of virtual communication tools and technologies that allow us to do our jobs efficiently; With the click of a button, we can connect with team members or talk to clients and colleagues working in different countries by phone or video. However, there are aspects of virtual communication in the workplace that make it difficult to maintain it over the long term – especially when it comes to teamwork.
Digital tools will continue to be used for remote work in the spirit of agile working, but the in-person work and in-person meetings, team brainstorms, monthly all-hands, and socials that help us stay connected and collaborative at work must be the start , to return.
While the future of work may look more flexible, it’s unlikely to look entirely distant. Despite the benefits of virtual business, no digital tool can replace the sense of community and belonging that comes with face-to-face communication—we are human, after all.
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