The Importance Of Face To Face Interactions Post COVID

Before COVID-19, remote working was already a popular option for many. In fact, according to Forbes, in countries like the U.S., there’s was a 159% increase in people working remotely from 2005 to 2017. The flexibility and freedom of remote or hybrid working can perfectly fit the lifestyle and mindset of those who choose to adopt it as part of their daily, weekly or bi-weekly schedule. However, it isn’t for everyone. Now that it has become the norm and is obligatory for many, it’s clear that one size certainly doesn’t fit all. Understandably, many workers now feel lonely, isolated and anxious working from home, without that real human connection or constant small talk to give their brain a break in-between intense periods of work. 

Companies worldwide are planning to make remote working a permanent option for roles that allow for it, meaning that this is not merely a flash in the pan, but rather an indication as to where the working world is headed. This means that we need to tackle this issue head on in order to not exacerbate an already growing mental health crisis. Whilst social media and smart phones can be the enemy of human face to face connection, technology is ultimately the answer to the issue. 

Why it is so important

In the past decade, due to our creation of and reliance upon a digital world, where we view life through a lens and post our exploits for the validation of strangers and acquaintances, people are physically going out and seeing each other less and less. Although we are more connected than ever, location has become arbitrary. For some, travelling to work and seeing colleagues and friends is one of the only times that they actually leave this digital comfort blanket mid-week, so to take that away can cause negative effects on people’s mental health and wellbeing. 

Building friendships and positive relationships within a work environment is crucial. Having friends at work is not only key to your personal happiness, but it’s vital for having a successful career. In fact, according to research from Harvard Business Review, it makes you seven times more likely to be engaged in your job. In addition, a new survey by Comparably  found that of over 33,000 workers working in the tech industry, over half report having best friends at work. 60 percent of women have a close friend at work, while 56 percent of men admitted to having a best pal at work as well.

We all have a friend that you can go months, even years at a time without seeing and still keep a natural rapport, however; most relationships need consistent maintenance and the best way to pay them upkeep is through the little things, like chatting about last weeks sporting results or what you’re plans are for the weekend. It’s these seemingly subtle social interactions that ‘The Mental Health Foundation say are particularly important to individuals struggling with their mental health, as nurturing these relationships can help form the foundations of an ability to cope with the problems that life throws at us. Also, without this, it can be near impossible to accurately assess people’s mental health just off of your digital interactions. It’s so much simpler to read someone’s body language in the office and recognize a change in their behavior. A glance across is usually enough to assess whether someone’s feeling down or frustrated. 

Technology: the issues and the solution

A mass of eyes, all appearing to stare back at yours as you navigate through your morning conference meeting- whilst it’s served us well during COVID, it’s not a natural way of communicating and it can be unnerving, having to maintain focus and energy levels whilst reading the facial and body language of more than ten different people at a time. Zoom fatigue’-

 has subsequently become a very real issue over the past six months. And it’s not just this face to face element that is missing from current teleconferencing solutions. There is also paranoia over digital security and identity. Any solution going forward needs to solve these issues whilst better facilitating real human connection.

Fortunately, at Laduma, we’re keeping all of this in mind, in order to create a more natural way of working, that gives you peace of mind, by not only allaying fears over security and capacity, but by crucially providing more scope for fluid, immersive and less constrained conversation and collaboration, that will free you from your desk. Our user profiles and insights keep track of digital identity for you, whilst our federated user authorization and authentication enable customers to deploy their own dedicated user controls, including two factor-authentication, so you can worry less about your digital security and spend more time on conquering the new normal. For more information on our unique solution for hybrid and remote working, please use the form below.