I just read an article written by a colleague who says one of the reasons so many of us shy away from video meetings is because we’re technology challenged, or we have no need to see people that we already know.
Maybe in some cases, that’s true, but it isn’t the real reason. I’ll give you three reasons why I sometimes shy away from video meetings and it has nothing to do with technology.
1. I don’t want to put makeup on
2. I don’t want to do my hair
3. I don’t want to dress up for work
Let’s be honest. It might be fun to work from home for a while, but after the newness wears off and you become immune to the kids screaming or the dog barking, wouldn’t it be more fun if we could just go back to the office? What’s the point of working from home if I have to get ready the same way I do when I go into the office?
Think about all the things I could be doing while working from home, if you don’t have to see me on video.
1. I can get dinner started while we’re on a conference call
2. I can let the dog out and you’ll never notice
3. I can answer e-mails while people on the non-video call are droning on
Even if I admittedly do that, I have been productively working from a home office for more than two decades and can make some realistic arguments to support the at- home- work movement.
1. I save time commuting
2. I am more productive because I can go to my office at all kinds of strange hours
3. I don’t pay for office space
Yet, despite some advantages of a virtual office, nothing can replace face-to-face communications. It’s how we connect. It’s why we fly across the world to be with people in the same room when we could Skype or Zoom or FaceTime. A lot of energy flows between us when we’re in the same space that can’t always be shared through a screen.
Leaning in while listening and can extend your energy toward another. When physically present in a room, other people are more aware if you’re doing something else instead of being fully present.
Then there’s touch. When we’re not shielding ourselves from a pandemic, in person we’re shaking hands, hugging, holding doors open for each other and even patting each other on the back. We’re huddled over each other’s monitors, sharing snacks and passing our phones around to look at each other’s photos.
In an experiment conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and Harvard, it was concluded that shaking hands causes the centers of the brain associated with reward to activate because you are literally conveying warmth. It’s something people can actually feel.
Let’s say you’re interviewing for a job. You e-mail your resume, point them to your LinkedIn page and schedule a video interview. If you make it past all of those steps, nothing will seal the deal better than an in-person interview where those hiring can feel your energy, passion and what it would be like to have you physically present in their work environment.
As the coronavirus forces us to social distance and more and more employers have asked employees to work from home, the word remote is taking on new meaning. It’s no longer just a work term.
For people in nursing homes, like my mother, remote can mean isolation. I can’t visit her. Our weekly lunches, quick in-person chats and family dinners are done, for now. Yes, we FaceTime, but that doesn’t replace a hug or a kiss. As a caregiver, seeing her in person shows me she’s okay. A video screen doesn’t have the same impact that either of us crave.
My friend’s mom is also in a nursing home. She fell and broke her hip. Because only medical and necessary personnel are permitted in, my friend couldn’t be with her mom when the hip was replaced. She can’t be with her in rehab either. Her mom is scared and alone. They talk by phone, but clearly, it’s not the same.
Video meetings are an important alternative right now. Like digital shopping and banking and transportation, it will get easier and become more commonplace. Thank goodness we have technology that allows us to interact during these challenging times. However, virtual meetings should never replace in person interactions. When we are physically present, we are often more emotionally present. We express ourselves much differently. We can touch. We can feel. We can look directly into someone’s eyes.
It’s what makes us human.