Transitioning back to face-to-face

Walter Tran
Chief Operating Officer

LinkedIn Profile

If you do something long enough it becomes habit. That’s what you’re told when you need to get better at something. Learning to meditate, learning how to solve a Rubik’s cube, or learning to work from home. The adjustment to remote working has meant new skills, but as we start to move the other direction, some key changes need further consideration.

1. 7-38-55

Research done in the 70s by Albert Mehrabian found that communication is made up of 7% words, 38% tone and 55% body language. This means we may have been missing a large part of communication even with video cameras being turned on during remote working. Having not experienced this for some time, in person, body language becomes amplified. Eye contact and subtle body movements are no longer subtle in person.

2. Digital information
When was the last time you printed out a document? Prior to remote working, face-to-face meetings may have involved the need to produce hard copy documentation for others to review. It was even potentially rude for you to be tapping away at a laptop whilst others ‘had the floor’. Changes in our attitudes to digital formats mean we’ve been able to live without printers. With hybrid workforces predicted to be norm, digital information will be the only way to have a consistent experience with those face-to-face and remote.

3. Meetings
Have you noticed that with remote working, the number of meetings you are having or the number of participants has increased? It’s much easier to bring others into a discussion because they are a button press away. This also means they can exit a meeting faster, so the feeling of inconveniencing others has dissipated. Another observation is how quickly meetings get started with remote workers. Coming to a meeting late, even 2 minutes, is met with some sort of apology these days. It was ‘normal’ to wait 5-10mins in some workplaces for meetings to get started. Will meetings now start more promptly in person?

4. Business attire
Working in the technology industry has always meant that business attire was not compulsory and ‘business casual’ was the norm. Coming into the office with anything remotely close to activewear was frowned upon. Having spent the past 2 years in more comfortable clothing and potentially having business attire that no longer fits means a real discussion needs to be had about what the norm should be. If we communicate what the standard attire is for the office, do we ask our remote workers to comply? Trivial as it may seem, a lack of consistency may drive disharmony.

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