Jan 22, 2021
By Leslie O'Connell

The Importance of In-Person Team Collaboration

Do you feel like the flexible workplace movement sped up about ten years? Me too.

We were moving toward the work from anywhere mindset and we just propelled forward. That doesn’t mean the end of the office – it’s the beginning of changing how we use the office.

Big tech companies like Google and Facebook, and office sharing companies like WeWork have the aesthetics correct; their offices are built for collaboration. Now it’s time to focus on how we use the office to work together while we adapt to more flexible work schedules.

Innovation and intellectual breakthroughs don’t happen over Slack or Zoom; they happen with brainstorming ideas in face-to-face team meetings.

Do you think the personal computer concept or the iPhone could have happened over Zoom?

I’m not sure what the new flexible, work from anywhere model will become; none of us really are. I do know that the way teams work is going to have to be reimagined.  

The new team dynamic needs to include in-person collaboration while allowing for flexible work habits.   

The case for teams returning to the office for collaboration and camaraderie

In the future, on-site team meetings will focus only on brainstorming and planning sessions—that sounds incredibly productive. I think we’re headed into times of great innovation and inventions.

Here’s why virtual can never replace in-person collaboration.

Real conversations build camaraderie and trust

Real conversations don’t happen over email or through texts. There’s a tremendous benefit to looking your colleague in the eyes and understanding why they disagree with an idea you’ve proposed.  

In-person collaboration resolves problems quickly and creates long-term relationships.

You’re more likely to share personal facts and stories with colleagues during lunch or impromptu small talk. These personal stories are what give us empathy towards our coworkers and what creates friendships and trust.

When you’ve created empathy through small talk and start understanding why a person acts a certain way, work collaboration greatly improves. That’s how great teams are built, and innovation happens.

Nonverbal communication is necessary

Have you heard the expression that almost 93% of effective communication comes from non-verbal cues? 

Shaking hands conveys warmth, and research has shown that even a small touch brings people closer together. Our pupils dilate when we’re happy and constrict when we’re sad. We can tell a lot from facial expressions and posture.

Non-verbal cues bring about more effective discussions; we’re not guessing what our colleagues are really saying, we can see it.

We all need Happy Hours, Conferences, and Company Retreats

You’ll still have fully remote team members. After all, getting the best talent sometimes means reaching outside your geographical area. Having one or two remote workers on a team is fine. The team dynamic still stands.

However, it helps if you have company retreats at least twice a year to build camaraderie with your remote colleagues. Any in-person event builds relationships.  

Once you spend time with someone, a bond does start to form. When you meet a coworker in person, even one you’ve been working with for months remotely, you’ll see that the next time you converse on Zoom, your relationship has improved; you now feel like you know that person better.

Couple the regular face-to-face meetings with twice a year retreats, and your team will be innovative and productive.  

In short, regular in-person team collaboration inspires trust, builds relationships, and creates bonds that can’t happen over web conferences.


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