Bert asks how to add face-to-face communication back into our increasingly digital interactions. He outlines six key benefits of doing so – such as efficiency and effectiveness benefits for collaboration – and then moves to a key rule:
“As we have rapidly embraced and adopted all manners of digital communication, one of the golden lessons to keep in mind is “when starting major initiatives, communities, and projects then start with a series of face-to-face encounters to support the subsequent digital interactions.” As we transition to a more digital workplace, there is a real need to retain some of the key aspects of face-to-face communication.“
Bert then talks about three ways to do this – video-enabled communication, social profiles, and real-time sharing.
1. When I started my doctoral program, I was startled to read this same advice coming up time-and-time again in many journal articles. Essentially, based on research over many years, if the team had got together in person at the beginning of the work, the outcomes of the project for the then virtual team were greater. It was more successful.
2. Bert has not proposed getting together in person at the beginning of the project – he has proposed using technology to simulate a face-to-face “like” encounter to replace actually getting on a plane and spending 2-3 days in the same place. I have not seen enough data to confirm that this will actually work – at the beginning of a project, as a good enough replacement for actually getting together. Something happens when you are together in person that video does not replicate.
3. I agree that simulating face time via video and other sharing mechanisms can be useful after that first meeting … but instead of that first meeting for a major initiative / community / project … I think it’s better to pay the money and share the time together. See also When do we need face time? (a flow chart), The Importance of Face-to-Face Meetings, and Improving the Performance of Distributed Teams at Molson Coors: Shared Motto, Yammer, and Getting Together.
4. I really like Boeing’s new global collaboration tool. I’ll be going on an earlier generation edition in about 48 hours.