One of the biggest aspects of the COVID 19 experience is the loss of connection with others. As a business coach, I have witnessed first-hand the challenges and some of the benefits that have come to the various businesses I collaborate with.
Obviously, COVID 19 has disrupted the way we do business and as a result, we now look at how we do business differently. One of the biggest changes is the increased number of people working remotely from home. In some cases, this has increased productivity which is good. Is it sustainable? It all depends on the position, the business, and the industry. I believe it is safe to say that in the future many companies are going to reduce their office footprint and have more people working remotely.
Long-term it will be interesting to see the effects. We are social animals. There are people I talk to who wish they could be back at work with their fellow employees. The team building and comaraderie are gone. Communication is more challenging. You can’t read the body language of individuals and team members in a Zoom meeting. People’s social needs are not being met. We are connecting but not on a deeper level.
Especially in a crisis, connecting with others comes through shared vulnerability. There have been many studies done on the strong bond that comes when we share our vulnerabilities with each other. And the best and most effective way to do that is with face to face contact.
Yes, you can share vulnerability remotely, but it is not as effective. Why? Where at work, you can share your vulnerability and have the conversation continue later that day or the next you can’t really do that remotely. You see someone on the screen, share your vulnerability and then it is over with. You are now back in isolation and feel detached. In the office environment as we once knew it, there would be other people to talk to about other things and we may see the same person again where we shared our vulnerability and continue the conversation, increasing the connection.
Working remotely, depending on the situation can be a positive or a negative. Regardless, if you have to work remotely it is a greater challenge to connect on a deeper level with others. It’s not that it can’t be done. It’s just that in the middle of a difficult situation the one thing we need as human beings, meaningful connection with others becomes more challenging.