Is face-to-face relevant in the post-pandemic workplace?
In the age of smartphones, social media, texts, emails and instant messages, communication is much faster and more convenient than ever before. Colleagues collaborate regardless of location, employees work at home in pyjamas, and managers disseminate important messages directly to staff with the click of a button.
The post-pandemic workplace is a strange new landscape, rapidly shifting to a much more remote model. Yet, according to a recent report from the Australian Institute of Family Studies, despite easing COVID restrictions, about two-thirds of Aussies are opting to continue working from home.
The report also found 67% of respondents were sometimes or always working from home, compared to just 42% before the pandemic. Which leaves us to wonder – is face-to-face communication still relevant in today’s digital-led business environment?
Call us old-fashioned, but here at Zakazukha – we say ‘yes’.
What exactly is face-to-face communication?
To start, let’s define what we mean by ‘face-to-face’ communication.
To us, this means being able to see another person or people in a conversation. Unlike a phone chat or an email, both the speaker and listener can easily see and interpret each other’s body language and facial expressions, allowing for a clearer exchange of information.
Face-to-face doesn’t have to mean being in the same physical space, the benefits can still be achieved via a video conference call or an informal video chat.
What are the benefits of face-to-face communication?
Despite all the wonders which digital communication and telecommuting has brought us, there are still a few downsides, so to assume that face-to-face communication in the workplace is a thing of the past would be a BIG mistake.
Like most soft skills, good communication in the workplace can be undervalued simply because it’s tricky to measure. However, in the post-pandemic world, face-to-face communication is more crucial than ever for its power to shape better business outcomes, positive company culture and more productive staff engagement.
Along with these benefits, the Zaka crew put our heads together and compiled a detailed list of how face-to-face communication adds a touch of spice to create a more thriving workplace.
Better workplace relationships
With many of us staying home, cooped up in our home offices and communicating via email or phone, it’s fair to say some of us might not be as well-connected with our colleagues as we once were.
To create and maintain a strong sense of community isn’t easy – and in the post-pandemic workplace, it takes an extra dose of effort and ingenuity.
It’s imperative to create ample opportunities for workmates to interact and socialise. Doing so, not only builds greater trust and fosters stronger relationships among team members and managers, but also improves collaboration, productivity, innovation, and creativity.
Clear and concise communication
When it comes to emails, how many times have you been misunderstood or misread? It’s easy to come across as rude or abrasive and cause offense without intending to.
With face-to-face conversation, the risk of these types of miscommunication problems can be dramatically reduced. Here are some useful tips to try out in your workplace:
- Encourage face-to-face interactions – persuade your colleagues to walk down the corridor to a meeting room or set up a zoom call rather than sending an email.
- Make sure you have the adequate communication tools and ensure all team members have access to the same software — whether it’s Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or another provider.
- Try arranging regular meetups with your team in the office, a café or even down at the pub. The importance of conversations in real time and in real rooms should never be underestimated. Plus, it’s a fun way to touch base with the work crew!
Engagement and productivity
Face-to-face communication creates a more collaborative environment, inspiring and energising employee participation in meetings, brainstorming sessions and more. All this adds to our overall employee satisfaction, company culture and growth.
Encourage meetings that allow colleagues to brainstorm together in productive discussions and constructive arguments. These kinds of interactions are highly beneficial and increase the likelihood of concluding meetings with more meaningful and creative solutions.
On a final note…
As we ease into a post-pandemic world, it’s important that we continue to promote healthy, non-judgemental work culture where individuals are encouraged to voice any concerns or issues, instead of hiding or internalising struggles.
Remote work burnout is real and can manifest itself in many ways, including stress, isolation, or anxiety. During the pandemic, one in five Australians reported high or very high levels of psychological distress.
So, when it comes to addressing sensitive issues and looking out for your colleagues, put down the phone, move away from the keyboard, and make an effort to engage in-person.
Whether it’s to provide feedback, offer advice and support, or to address an issue, face-to-face communication can help turn a challenging conversation into a more productive, trust-building interaction and ultimately, make your workplace an awesome one.