The importance of face-to-face communication in the digital era
17th March 2023
Predictions about the rapid demise of ‘old school’ in-person meetings between people in physical workspaces have multiplied over the past few years.
Yet, while some 44% of UK workers are home or hybrid working, the proportion of people working exclusively from home has been declining, with people keen to interact face-to-face in the workplace as part of flexible working.
Many of us still value meetups or working together in-person – whether in a formal meeting room for private or sensitive conversations, co-working spaces where we can openly communicate and collaborate or having a social chat around the water-cooler.
Easier to engage and collaborate
We know it can be challenging to establish relationships, demonstrate credibility, influence people and make an impact effectively in virtual-only meetings.
Evidence suggests that face-to-face meetings stimulate collaboration and creativity. Nearly 90% of workers believe being in the office is essential for collaborating and building relationships, and most high performers argue sitting in a room with colleagues or clients to hash out ideas can move projects ahead faster, according to US research by PwC.
People need places to share knowledge, generate ideas and pool talent, and the interaction of minds is a vital aspect of working, particularly among those in creative industries.
Social and networking benefits
In traditional and social media, many people who work from home or remotely say they miss so-called ‘water-cooler moments’ – the tea breaks and in-person spontaneity that comes with office space.
Some feel it’s easier to maintain networks and working relationships in a face-to-face environment. When you’re working from home, your work networks tend to shrink.
Future Workplace magazine asserts that face-to-face interaction in a workplace helps to avoid potential isolation through remote, digital-only working made increasingly possible by digital technology.
Face-to-face appeals to all workers
Gen Z, more than any past generation, craves personal, face-to-face communications, albeit at their convenience and as part of their expectations around flexible working, says UK Recruiter magazine.
Perhaps surprisingly, they find it easier to express their individuality in person than in video calls. In addition, they gain greater value and ‘reassurance’ from sitting in a meeting room with colleagues and working in the office.
It’s not just Gen Z who sees the value of in-person meetings. Anyone over 30 who likes the flexibility of remote work since the pandemic also knows the drawbacks of communicating remotely online. You can miss subtle nonverbal body language in a video call, it’s difficult to stay engaged, especially if you’re introverted, and it’s harder for leaders to create a strong, efficient team.
So, it looks unlikely that face-to-face interaction in workspaces will be consigned to history just yet.
Enjoying the best of both worlds
Despite the many benefits of holding face-to-face meetings, for a whole raft of practical reasons, there are times when colleagues or clients simply cannot be physically present.
But on those occasions, using advanced digital technology means they can still actively participate in a ‘live’ meeting or conversation through good-quality video links.
So, for example, if you’re holding a team building meeting in the UK and need to include a team member based in South Africa, you can involve them in the discussions and interact in real time.
How we can help
There are plenty of places where you can have an in-person meeting, from a hotel bar to a café or restaurant. But a dedicated workspace is more conducive to a business meeting. Somewhere you’re guaranteed peace and quiet, no distractions, on-tap tea and coffee, and an admin team on standby if you need anything from a lunch menu to printing off a document.
No matter how you want to work, Landmark has meeting rooms and co-working spaces to suit your needs, all close to public transport hubs.
Club space membership gives you access to co-working spaces where you can share your work as a team, spread out papers on a large table or break out into ones and twos to brainstorm over a report at a coffee table.
However, if you need somewhere to talk confidentially, you might prefer to book a stylish and discreet meeting room, which can be hired by the hour, half or full day. You won’t struggle to communicate with colleagues and clients on video-conferencing platforms, thanks to our ‘digital first’ meetings technology, delivered via reliable IT infrastructure.
Finally, you can hire our serviced private offices for a more formal environment, and get free Club Space membership included into the bargain.
The choice is yours – and we are here to help!