Why in-person is invaluable in 2024

Face-to-face interactions in a remote working world

Let’s face it, most of us with “office jobs” love working from home. No early commute, no missed package deliveries, no real requirement to wear pants. 

But despite the perks, there are certain things you get from real life interactions that just can’t be replicated with an email, phone call or instant message. 

Remote working has gained serious momentum over the last few years, especially in tech-driven sectors like ours. With more and more people choosing WFH, face-to-face interactions amongst teams and with clients are becoming rarer and much more valuable. 

I’ve found that for the MyWork team, the trick has been to find the right balance. While evolving into a flexible, modern workplace, we’re making an effort to maintain the productivity and camaraderie of an in-person team environment.

Make changes gradually

Post COVID lockdowns, it’s become clear that the ‘working 9-5’ mentality has changed forever. 

Rather than immediately forcing staff back to the office full-time, we opted for a gradual transition to a hybrid work model. For MyWork, this looks like 3 days in-office, and 2 days working from home. 

Since changing to a split work week, we’ve found that face-to-face days are invaluable for setting up for the week ahead. We now need to organise our weeks ahead of time, based on the activities which are best suited for each working environment. 

Face-to-face days

  • Collaborative tasks
  • Team meetings
  • Client interaction activities

Work from home days

  • Repetitive task
  • Focus intensive tasks
  • Catching up on admin such as emails

The splitting of days required better organisation and communication amongst the team, which has actually helped to increase our productivity.

Maintaining genuine connections

It seems fairly obvious, but face-to-face interactions help our team to develop and maintain genuine connections. As we’ve always been a close-knit group, I was concerned working in isolation could lead to the loss of connection and genuine friendship amongst the team.

Despite tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom improving dramatically in recent years, they can’t fully replicate the feeling of a face-to-face discussion. Video call meetings can often feel awkward and are usually ended as soon as ‘business’ is dealt with, losing the spontaneity and fluid nature of general chats which are key for building rapport.

Build trust, accountability, commitment

While we allow our team the flexibility to work from home on certain days, there will always be unforeseen circumstances that arise. For example, a team member may unexpectedly need to work from home on a day that was planned to be an office day.

Trust is vital in a good team dynamic, so we have a system of personal accountability. The individual who missed an office day can make it up at a time that works for them, on one of their usual work from home days.

Choosing to be physically present on a day they could have just worked remotely allows the team member to demonstrate commitment, reliability, and accountability. In turn, this continues to foster the culture of trust in the team.

Remote work undoubtedly offers flexibility and convenience, but to any businesses out there going down the road of remote workforces, it’s definitely important to recognise the value of face-to-face interactions.

I’d strongly encourage any workplace feeling the pressure to increase remote working options to embrace the change and to consult with staff to set expectations for maintaining a healthy balance. Maintaining face-to-face interactions doesn’t need to mean just days in the office, it could mean meeting in a co-working space, café or public space a few times a week in order to maintain those essential connections.

By incorporating regular in-person meetings into remote work policies, you can forge stronger relationships, enhance communication, and ultimately, drive greater collaboration and success within your teams.

In an increasingly digital world, the human touch remains indispensable.