In addition to resources and tools, workplace productivity depends upon job satisfaction, employee morale, engagement, mental stimulation, and other intangible factors. Regularly scheduling face-to-face meetings can help to fulfill these criteria. Employers and employees have responded to surveys saying that offline interactions with one another, clients, and constituents, are highly effective and worth the effort. Not convinced? Check out the benefits of face time?
- A Sense of Ownership: When people are held accountable for their actions in person, that false sense of security that develops behind a computer screen, dissipates. Offline meetings reinforce the idea that each employee plays a role in the success of a business and fosters a sense of ownership. When an employee knows where they belong in an organization, they are more likely to feel tied and connected to their work.
- Engagement: Receiving instant feedback and participating in a free flow of ideas improves productivity. Employers and employees are engaged and interested and their work takes on a new level of importance. While e-mail and phone calls are perfect for the dissemination of straightforward information, it is best to relay information concerning tasks and expectations in person. Questions can be clarified and professionals don’t feel like faceless employees. Individuals are also able to internalize the norms and culture of the organization.
- Morale: Meeting co-workers and clients builds a sense of community and allows for social support. It’s impossible to see the important non-verbal cues through technology-based communication. Face-to-face meetings are essential for developing strong relationships. It has been proven time and time again that the most productive professionals are happy professionals. Human contact is a basic need and isolation only breeds job dissatisfaction.
- Teamwork: In a paper titled, “Why Face-to-Face Business Meetings Matter,” professor Richard Arvey, Ph.D. cites a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology that found face-to-face communication is preferred over other communication modalities, “when there is a need for the expression of emotions, when tasks require coordination and timing among member’s activities, when one is attempting to persuade others, or with task consensus or issues that are affected by attitudes of values of group members.” Immediate clarification and the development of “exchange relationships” ensure that employees are on the same page and efforts can be coordinated.
- Trust: Trust is the basis for business relationships and requires repeated interactions between professionals. Again, nonverbal cues play an enormous role in developing trust. This can only be achieved to a limited degree though computer mediated tools. Client relationships and employer/employee relationships rely on trust and this is more effectively cultivated through face-to-face communication. We can evaluate and make a decision about the integrity and skills of others rapidly.
- Attention: Multitasking is not as productive as focusing on one task at a time. When individuals can’t see one another, they are more likely to get distracted. Browsing the Internet or checking a cell phone during a conference call is a common occurrence. During live events and meetings, professionals aren’t able to turn their attention elsewhere in an inconspicuous manner. Interacting with others in person provides a level of stimulation that encourages the retention of information. Without focus and attention, productivity is a challenge.
When was the last time you had a face-to-face meeting with colleagues, employers, or clients? Did you find it effective?