There is a lot, A LOT we can do virtually now. The various collaboration software options seem to grow in number and quality everyday. Many of the people I work with daily, I have never met in person. I don’t know how short or tall they are, what food they like, or what quirky habits they have. But I have seen one colleague’s cat walk across his keyboard, another’s sit on the shlef behind her. And I often find myself trying to decipher what books are on the bookshelves behind them.
Remote working works. So what is the value of getting together in person? Trust and focus. While there is no doubt we can build trust remotely, it often takes less time in person. Trust is built through relationship. So when I can share a meal with a colleague, swap stories about life outside work, go for a walk, or share a train journey with them – this all can build relationship and trust. Some of this (in different ways) we can do remotely too, but it tends to be slower. It’s hard to hang out with someone on zoom indefinitely or have an inpromptu coffee. If we are in a larger meeting session, it’s hard and weird to say to a colleague ‘come have a coffee with me in this breakout room.’
Remote work tends to be much more scheduled. And remote work can be less focused. We sit on a zoom call and get a bit bored, so we multitask. While in person, it’s much harder to discretely respond to emails while sitting a room with your colleagues. Focus can be better when together because there are less places to hide. Your ‘camera’ is always on in person.
I love remote working. It’s been my mode of work for nearly 15 years now and I would find it hard to work in a cubicle in an office. And after COVID, I didn’t think in person meetings were overly necessary. However, after being at one last week, I see the value of them. Mostly for building trust and relationships with colleagues and connecting dots between what everyone is working on.
What are the benefits you find of both modes of working?