The Importance of Balancing Communication Online and Offline at the Office
When you want to talk to someone, do you usually call them and ask to get together over coffee or send them a quick email? A survey conducted by the social site Badoo found that 39 percent of Americans spend more time socializing online than in person, and 20 percent even prefer communicating via text or online to face-to-face communication.
Social media is not all bad though. People across the globe are constantly using these platforms to seek and share information, including companies who are reaching out to consumers. One recent study found that at work, employees who use social media networks are actually more productive. The McKinsey Global Institute found that by fully implementing social technologies, companies can raise the productivity of workers can as much as 20 to 25 percent.
We know that social media and online communication gives us the ability to communicate quicker, and with more people, but how do we know when it’s the right choice, or when you should just go have an in-person conversation?
Did I Hear You Correctly?
Although online communication certainly offers some benefits in terms of efficiency, it also has the potential for misinterpretation. How many times have you written, or read, a short comment written for brevity purposes, and misinterpreted its meaning? Face-to-face communication includes nonverbal signals such as facial expressions, gesture and tone of voice that are considered to be an essential component of communication, including business communications. Without these signals, conflicts can easily erupt.
A survey conducted by NFI research found 67 percent of managers believe personal discussions can help make the company more productive. Email, texting and other forms of online communication are convenient, but they can’t replace the real world. Modulations and intonations are as important as what the personal is verbally saying.
Get Up Close And Personal
In this super-connected world, how can you spend a little more time communicating in person?
- The next time you experience an issue, or aren’t sure whether you have interpreted an electronic message correctly, consider if the topic is something that would be better served by a real conversation.
- If your co-worker is just down the hall, or a few cubicles over, rather than typing out an email or texting, get up out of your chair and talk to them in person.
- Managers might consider introducing a day such as, “Conversational Tuesdays,” in which no one is allowed to use electronic methods of communication for internal conversations and must communicate in person or over the telephone. An Atlanta-based company, e-Verifile, introduced this weekly practice, and found employees are happier and also communicate better.
- When a member of your staff or a co-worker successfully completes a challenging project, does something above and beyond what is expected, achieves an impressive goal, etc., consider sending flowers with a real card attached to them. Once they arrive, you’ll have a great excuse to go over to their desk and congratulate them on a job well done in person. There are few better ways to increase office morale and create a more positive work environment.