Using communication technology to improve relationships
Does technology bring us closer together? It can seem like a weird question to ask, since innovations like VoIP and real-time chat let us more easily connect with friends, co-workers, and others, even over great distances.
But not all technologies are equally effective at forming strong interpersonal connections, which are particularly important in workplace contexts. As more organizations turn to remote and mobile working arrangements, it’s crucial to branch out from the old standbys of email, phone calls, and in-person meetings and invest in alternatives that provide sufficient context and enable rich collaboration from anywhere.
In fact, solutions such as video conferencing and team collaboration tools with intelligence features are the most effective for connecting people regardless of their physical locations. As the 2020s begin, let’s explore some specific examples of how these technologies build connections that last.
Less time commuting, more time to focus on strategic projects
Long commutes have become facts of life for millions of workers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau,* the average Americans’ commute in 2019 is 27 minutes (just one way), up two minutes from 2009. While that may not seem drastic, over the course of a year, it totals 17 extra hours spent in traffic.
What if there were a way to spend less time in traffic or on the train? It would benefit both the environment and worker morale, as lengthy commutes are one of the main detractors from job satisfaction.
Collaboration technologies make it more practical to avoid commuting and instead work from virtually anywhere:
- With chat apps, you can have a real-time conversation, share files, and search for specific assets from one interface with lots of context.
- Video conferencing allows for face-to-face meetings even at a distance, in high definition and with sophisticated controls.
- Cognitive collaboration solutions can pull information from multiple sources (e.g., public social media profiles and CRM data) to create context around any online meeting.
As long as a worker has access to the internet, these collaboration possibilities and others can allow for productive work, with no taxing commute required. Employees can build better working relationships, too, since the tools in question give them clear insights into what others are doing and thinking.
More eye contact and more immersive meetings through video conferencing
Video technology, in particular, is ideal for simulating the experience of being in the same room as the other attendees in an online meeting, even if everyone is actually located somewhere else.
A modern video platform has several key advantages over communicating via audio-only calls or emails and chats:
- It allows for full visibility into participants’ reactions and body language This insight is useful for understanding how a meeting is really going, and can be especially helpful if there’s a language/culture barrier.
- It helps curb multitasking Although the word gets a lot of lip service in resumes, multitasking is highly impractical in many contexts, as the brain isn’t that great at listening to a call and typing up an email simultaneously, for example. Video puts people in the spotlight and discourages multitasking, which in turn, increases productivity.
- It’s usable from multiple devices, not just dedicated standards-based video conferencing systems PCs, Macs, phones, and tablets can all seamlessly join an online video conference with just the tap or click of a button when it’s time for things to start.
- It’s integrated with other collaboration tech like screen sharing So participants can share their entire screens or desktops, or just a particular app or document as needed, to go in depth while on the video call.
- It can support a variety of use cases, not just internal meetups For example, a video link could be set up for a webinar, training session, or social media broadcast. Accordingly, the clarity of video can build connections across multiple contexts.
Reducing reliance on emails and phone calls
Both email and traditional voice calls often leave a lot to be desired, in terms of how personal they feel as well as how effective they are in enhancing productivity.
Checking and digging through an inbox all day is a huge time sink, not to mention a somewhat impersonal way to interact with people – after a while, everyone can feel like just a name next to a message. Phone calls are similarly problematic and somewhat anonymous, although a bit better since you can at least hear what the other person sounds like.
While moving on from email has long been a priority for many workers and their organizations, only recently has doing so become really practical. Chat apps provide strong alternatives to rifling through emails or setting aside lots of time for phone calls. Messages can be exchanged in real time, so there’s not the delay of email. Plus, files can easily be shared in the conversation, while built-in search makes it straightforward to find what’s needed.
Workplace chat can work well in tandem with video conferencing, too, so that every meeting is set up for success and can be properly followed-up on. Cisco Webex provides the integrated collaboration capabilities, from video to AI-driven meetings, that your organization needs to ensure strong interpersonal connections between your teams.
To learn more, get started with a free Webex plan today.