Two suitcases are laid out for two weeks of travel. Mouths gaping, they beg me to feed them clothes, toiletries, training materials, and of course, my beloved books. (I’m a bookaholic. There I’ve said it.)
Week one, the panhandle of Florida about an hour out of Ft. Walton Beach. I’m teaching at the Professional Paddlesports Association’s National Business School, and then I’ll do a full day of employee training with Adventures Unlimited in Milton, Florida. I’ve worked with both of these groups before, and know to expect intense, interesting, and invigorating days. I teach, but I also learn. There’s nothing like spending time with the people who work on the front lines of a company.
Week two — Power Circle on Captiva Island. The team dynamic of this group always makes our time together a great adventure. I’m the only woman facilitating a group of male business owners to innovate and improve their hospitality business. Sometimes the voices grow loud, and they debate as each wants his idea on center stage, but at the end of exhausting and exhilerating days, everyone walks away with plenty to take home. Our companies are stronger, leaner, and more qualified to run tough races during a risky economy. Every single person in the room contributes to the training regime.
Which brings me to my point. As a Productivity Specialist, a title among many others I carry as a Business Expert, efficiency ranks at the top of my priorities. I’m always looking for ways any company can work faster, increase accuracy, and save money. So wouldn’t it make sense to video conference or use a product like Go-To-Meeting?
In the past, I’ve tried these methods, but like eating a cardboard fiber bar when you want a Snickers, the time spent leaves an unsatisfied taste in all our mouths. Why is that you might ask?
I’ve identified five specific reasons why failing to meet face-to-face can destroy our productivity versus enhance it.
- Humans learn more from body language than they do from the actual words spoken. We subconciously pick up truth signals from other participants and register them in secret compartments of our brains where they store data and use the wisdom later.
- Small physical touches like handshakes, a slap on the back, or pat on the shoulder stimulate sensors in the brain necessary for learning. There are many credible articles that provide scientific evidence proving we are dumber the less we touch other people.
- Tone of voice adds passion to our ideas. I train in many diverse environments, yet brainstorming continues to provide the most answers everywhere I go. Humans feed off each other’s excitement, even when the first thing out of our mouths seems silly.
- You can facilitate a group, keeping them on track, much easier in person than from a distance. Instruction becomes moot when we justify, disregard, or get distracted. All things a meeting participant can exercise without an in-house person to hold them accountable.
- You can accomplish far more in a shorter amount of time when you hammer things out head-on. There’s an instinctual urgency that says our time is valuable, when we browse the room and see how many minutes or hours are represented by multiplying it times the number of people included.
In my experience, we save more money, (even above travel expenses), and make more money, (in-person environments rock creativity), when we physically sit in the same room to learn, as long as effective facilitation is exercised. Bottom line? Managed well, face-to-face meetings are good for the bottom line.
It costs us more when we see each other less.
Anita FreshFaith @ Work
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, speaker, and writer. She lives in Missouri with her family.