Let’s bring back the personal touch in our professional lives
As we close the first half of 2021, it's increasingly hard to remember that face-to-face meetings were once the default mode of communication for the majority of our professional lives. Any professional will have been part of numerous coffee meetings and working lunches, where some of their strongest working relationships were formed.
But like so many aspects of our daily lives, such meetings have been put on pause by the events of the past year, with video calling and remote collaboration taking their place. While this has allowed us to remain as close to 'business as usual' as possible and opened the door to a whole new way of working, we should take the time to consider what was lost, so we can ensure the approaching 'new normal' offers us the best of both worlds.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself, to ensure your daily routine remains productive and enjoyable, and that you continue to cultivate long-lasting relationships with customers and colleagues alike…
Do we really need to be constantly available?
Over the past year, many of us have become used to back-to-back video calls, something that has almost become the norm without us realising it, thanks to the rapid normalisation of reliable video calling. Filling our calendars to this extent was comparatively rare before lockdown, but has enabled us to make more of our time each day, with minimal 'waste' created by the need to travel. This has been particularly beneficial in contact centre environments, allowing agents to provide near-instant responses to customer queries, regardless of where they are working from, but is this 'always on' culture always appropriate?
The challenges of COVID-19 have shone a light on the need to take care of our mental health in and out of work, so we should ask whether treating every spare moment in our calendars as being available for meetings is necessarily helping our long-term wellbeing.
Have we lost sight of the social element of meetings?
Working lunches and meetings over coffee were always a great way to both get to know our customers and enjoy a change of scene from the office, while brainstorming sessions in the office allowed us to build rapport with our colleagues and discover innovative solutions to complex problems. This has proven much harder in the era of video calling, as meetings tend to be booked to discuss specific topics, within a set amount of time. While the resulting efficiency has certainly proven beneficial, it has meant the social element of meetings has largely disappeared, making it harder to really get to know our customers and colleagues, and limiting the opportunities to create true 'out of the box' solutions.
With face-to-face meetings now viable again as social distancing regulations are eased, let's not ignore the opportunities to get back in touch again!
Can we bring back the human touch in the post-COVID era?
The response to COVID-19 has been a testament to human ingenuity and our capacity for innovation. But even though there's no doubt our new ways of working, communicating and collaborating are here to stay, how can we best take advantage of the opportunities they offer while re-embracing the value of face-to-face meetings and social interactions?