Digital Technology is Not a Substitute for In-Person Connections

This past year, businesses have scrambled to find new ways of working. In a socially distanced world where remote working has become a requirement, organizations small and large have found themselves working in environments completely mediated by digital technologies.

But while tech can bridge the gap in a pinch, it’s not a true replacement for human connection – and especially not over the long term.

Tech Is a Facilitator, Not A Panacea

Slack, Teams, and Basecamp are all great tools for enhancing communication and streamlining project management. But they can’t replace in-person meetings and training. When you rely wholly on digital methods of working, communication gaps arise, tasks fall through the cracks, and questions go unasked – and unanswered. Employees who can’t easily stop by a coworker’s desk to clarify a point too often either set a task aside or push forward, hoping that they’re on track. Virtual creative or brainstorming sessions lack the easy back-and-forth, turn-taking, and feedback mechanisms you get when working in person. And Slack and Zoom might be great for work-related chat, but they don’t foster collegiality or strong company cultures the way in-person get-togethers do. And let’s face it: all those pings from various software programs distract us from the task at hand.

Performance Can’t Be Assessed Remotely

We know that “time in the chair” doesn’t map precisely to performance. But when you’re in physical proximity, you can walk the room to monitor how employees are getting along and whether they need help. When we’re working virtually, it’s far more challenging to assess performance. We don’t have access to the standard, real-time feedback mechanisms, and often we only start to identify problems when deliverables are missed, or complaints arise. If you’re dealing with new hires or working in a quickly moving or high-impact industry such as law, healthcare, real estate, or client-facing consulting, being able to proactively address issues is vital to your bottom line – and your reputation. And this means moving away from the monitors and back to the office.

It’s Time to Return to The Office

As the world starts to reopen for business, many organizations are hesitant about returning to full-time office work. But your return doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Even moving from fully remote to partially in-person will positively impact the quality of your organization’s communication, collaboration, performance, and engagement. Encouraging employees to spend even a couple of days in the office, will help rebuild that lagging company culture, foster team bonds, and facilitate knowledge transfer and feedback.

That’s where coworking spaces like District Offices come in. Our on-demand, fully equipped workspaces in the heart of D.C. provide a flexible option for those returning to the office – or even those who want to provide work-from-home employees the opportunity to catch up and work together in person. For more information about our flexible workspaces and how they can assist your team in transitioning back to in-person working, get in touch!

 

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