Face to Face Communication – Old-Fashioned? No!

The modern world is changing the way we do business. In the past, a 21 year old graduate would find a good job and aim to stay there for life. Commuting into the office was just a part of this, and something you couldn’t avoid. But these days, it’s different. Gen Y and Millennials are the fast-moving, constantly connected children of the internet age. They expect the flexibility to be able to work anywhere, and we’re beginning to see this seep into the workplace. The phrase “work is a thing you do, not a place you go to” seems more pertinent than ever. But what does this mean for face to face communication?

Are we moving towards a world where all of business will be done remotely?

Is it old-fashioned to expect individuals to be able to deal with face to face communication?

I don’t think so!

Certainly, technology has changed (and will continue to change) the way businesses can operate. It will soon be not only possible, but prolific, that professionals work from their home, their favourite coffee shop, or the country house. Individuals will be better able to take advantage of the liberating effects of the internet, as will employers with increased monitoring of computer behaviour. This will see a rise in teleconferencing, long-distance cell phone calls and video conferencing technology. All of these technologies can help to bridge the gap in geography and smooth some communications.

However, there is no doubt that there is a distinct difference in our minds between a conversation which takes place over the phone (even the video phone), and one which takes place face to face. If the workplace lost its physicality, all of the non-verbal communication which takes place during face to face interactions would be lost with it.

A large amount of communication is what the experts call “non-verbal” (although there is no official number and depending where you’re looking, you’ll find figures ranging from 60% – 90%, but it’s a lot). This means anything from changes in breathing patterns, eye movements, limb or finger movements or even sighs and laughs. As human beings, we are expert communicators, and this is seen no more impressively than how we interpret these non-verbal clues. The subtlety which can be expressed in the movement of an eyebrow could fill a novel. And, in fact, these non-verbal clues are so hard-wired into us that getting rid of them (and acquiring what could be called a “poker face”) takes years of practice!

Aside from the non-verbal clues, there are also practical business reasons why face to face meetings will always be more beneficial than a teleconference or videoconference. When you’re in a room with someone, you can tell if they’re being distracted by something else. This engenders an environment in which everyone is “there” at the meeting. Everyone is involved in what is being said, and engaged in what is going on, and if they’re not, you can instantly see it. That alone drives an increase in efficiency.

On a more human level, there is a certain amount of trust that can only be built through face to face meetings. Human beings, in an organization, rely on the hard work of team members. The greatest organization is only as strong as its weakest link. And the type of trust required is best built through face to face contact.

The next generation of IT in the workplace will revolutionize the way businesses are able to operate. Flexibility and increased mobility will be brought about through the increase in connectivity which we enjoy. But this will only ever be complementary to face to face communication and can never wholly replace it.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Lisa_Baum/1473421