Technology Connecting People–In Meatspace
Let’s face it, I am probably more accessible than most people that work in my team, despite working out of my home office. My phone is on all the time. I am regularly checking–and responding to–email. I use IM. I work unusual hours. The people who work the overnight shift in our support team really like it that they can reach me–if needed–on IM during a good chunk of their shift.
And while all that connectivity is wonderful, when it comes right down to it, the near constant connectivity seems to demand actually knowing people–in person. Sure, you get to know people over the interwebs, but when it comes down to it, having at least some intimate knowledge of the person in meatspace seems to be key to getting things done–particularly when the going gets tough.
Email doesn’t stop you from wanting facetime, too. Just the opposite: By enabling us to maintain productive business relationships with more people, it encourages more face-to-face contact. Have you noticed business travel dying out? Neither have I. Air travel is at record highs.
One day, perhaps, virtual communication will become so good we’ll no longer feel the need to shake hands with a new collaborator or brainstorm in the same room. But for now, the world seems to be changing in a way that actually demands more meetings. Business is more innovative, and its processes more complex. That demands tacit knowledge, collaboration, and trust — all things that seem to follow best from person-to-person meetings. “Ideas are more important than ever,” Glaeser says, “and the most important ideas are communicated face-to-face.”
This is something I need to spend some time convincing my wife about. It’s this facetime I get by going down to the office and simply “hanging out” that allows me to continue to be successful as someone who works from home most of the time. The last trips I’ve made up to our Ottawa office have made a huge difference in my ability to get things done with people in that office.
What do you think? Does all this “connecting technology” increase the demand for facetime?