In our current culture, we have so many ways we can communicate with one another – many of which don’t require us to leave our sofa. Phones, laptops, Zoom and remote working policies mean I’m seeing an increasing number of workplaces with teams who interact well digitally, but in some cases are performing very poorly when it comes to face to face communication.
Technology was our saviour during Covid-19 lockdowns. It kept us connected, not just at work but to friends, family and the world. We were alone in our homes but tied 24 hours a day to others. Initial panic about inability to travel outside of our gardens gave way to relief as we found ways to carry on our jobs without being in the office. Despite the extreme circumstances, some sense of achievement was found when we realised we could save time and money by carrying out tasks alone at home. We mastered online meetings, got used to people freezing or disappearing without warning, met colleagues’ children and dogs and in some ways grew so much closer, seeing our co-workers as human, just like us. But in other ways, the beginning of what was to become a more permanent loss of face-to-face culture was emerging.
Where we are now
Thankfully the days of lockdown are long gone, and our freedom has returned. But many of the ‘emergency’ procedures we put in place when we had no other choice have remained. I am seeing more and more clients with team members of varying levels of experience and responsibility hiding behind a screen. The habit of replacing a call with an email in case the intended recipient is in the middle of wrestling with a toddler or on their daily walk has become commonplace today. Where balanced hybrid schedules should be providing staff and employers with a blended utopia, many teams are seeing staff stay at home at all costs, unless absolutely necessary.
What does this mean for business? In the simplest terms, everything is taking longer and as a result opportunities are being missed. Where a phone call gets answered immediately, an email can take days. Where Zoom lacks warmth and is stilted, a face-to-face coffee with a client conveys reassurance and builds a relationship, fast. Technology makes communication appear faster and slicker, but these tools are only as effective as the user. And without face-to-face engagement, to follow up on digital comms and build real relationships, everything slows down.
The importance of habit and balance
The importance of balance in this new way of working is something I am incredibly passionate about. Of course, working at home for part of the week provides endless benefits to staff including higher levels of autonomy and motivation, the ability to work on detailed tasks uninterrupted and an increase in work time with the absence of a commute. But these advantages only come to fruition when balanced with face-to-face communication in equal part.
How I can help regain balance and bring your team back
As a communication expert, clients are often surprised to hear my services reach much further than presentation skills training. My face-to-face communication training allows your team to immerse themselves in real life situations and interactions which they may be missing if working remotely.
The golden moments I see in my training groups often occur outwith the formal scheduled training. For example, the start of the day gives everyone the chance to work on impression making. The fifteen minute coffee break might allow new graduates to experience professional networking in a more relaxed way, often for the first time. During lunchtime more experienced staff members may bounce ideas around and set up working groups to take new ideas forward. None of these things happen within online meetings, where cameras are off and coffees are hurriedly made alone, in separate kitchens. All attendees experience a richer, more rounded learning experience as they share key takeaways and their own perspective on the sessions, reaffirming and embedding their learning through shared experience.
One client I recently worked with saw team members meet for the first time during my sessions, as they are based remotely across Scotland. Witnessing these relationships establishing on a new level within my sessions is simply magic.
What I’m seeing now in my face-to-face sessions is an incredible increase in confidence in staff members at all points in their career, an increased level of understanding of the training and overall, a much more in-depth experience for everyone.
So whether you have new graduates lacking experience in face-to-face meetings – perhaps because of lockdown they have rarely if ever experienced one, or more experienced staff members who have become complacent post lockdown or lost their confidence – I can help.
Get in touch to find out more about the services I can provide and how we can create a bespoke solution that will improve the confidence and communication of your team.