Can Face-to-Face Communication Increase Collaboration?

Can Face-to-Face Communication Increase Collaboration?

By Vitiello Communications Group

A series of recent Starbucks ads serve as an important reminder of the nuances we miss when communicating in the digital realm. Words account for 7 percent of how communication is conveyed; the other 93 percent is expressed through tone of voice and body language. This presents business leaders with a challenge to balance digital communication with traditional face-to-face communication among their teams.

So, how can we ensure employees collaborate in a digitized world? Last year, Jackie Reses, head of HR at Yahoo!, told employees, “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side… Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings.”

While calling for an end to telecommuting may not be the answer for every organization, Reses points to spur-of-the-moment collaboration as a benefit of employees reporting to the office each day. According to a Forbes Insights study, other business leaders agree. The report states that eight out of ten executives prefer in-person meetings over virtual ones, citing reasons such as building stronger business relationships, having the ability to read body language and facial expressions, and bonding with coworkers through social interaction. Additionally, 80 percent of respondents said that face-to-face interaction with coworkers is necessary for effective teamwork.

For employees working remotely, collaboration may be more challenging, but it is not impossible. Business leaders need to ensure that all employees have the tools they need to work together. Here are a few things leaders can do to increase face-to-face communication and boost collaboration:

  • Create opportunities for connection. Offer an employee ambassador program as a way for employees to make new connections and align mutual interests. Employees will have the opportunity to work with colleagues across different departments and divisions to achieve a common goal.
  • Make use of your environment. Consider an open space office layout that will spark innovation, creativity and teamwork. According to the Gensler U.S. Workplace Survey, two-thirds of workers believe they are more efficient when they work closely with colleagues.
  • Integrate the old with the new. Allow remote workers to get some face time in meetings through videoconferencing. Create virtual water cooler moments on an internal social network by asking a question or inviting employees to share a story; encourage telecommuters to send in video clips that can be played during a daily or weekly team meeting.

Do you think face-to-face communication increases opportunities for innovation and collaboration with coworkers? Leave a comment to let us know.

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