While technology provides numerous benefits to the workplace, it also has drawbacks. Many businesses rely upon dealing with information via electronic means instead of through face-to-face communications. However, having face-to-face meetings with employees carries a variety of benefits, including increased morale and clearer communication. In addition, face-to-face meetings allow for socialisation to occur in the workplace.
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One positive effect of face-to-face communications is receiving an immediate response. If a person has a question, sending an e-mail sometimes results in delays. The email recipient might not read it immediately. After someone reads the email, a decision might be postponed. The likelihood of someone answering a question increases in face-to-face communication.
Socialisation plays a role in face-to-face communication, especially for scheduled meetings. Prior to the actual meeting, socialisation takes place, with the parties sharing personal information and data. When a face-to-face meeting takes place, it shows that all parties cared enough about the meeting to take the time to attend.
Having face-to-face communication with a person lets people get an idea about the entire person. For example, someone might look very impressive on a resume, but when that person shows up for an interview with a belligerent tone in his voice when being questioned, an employer can avoid hiring a potential problem employee.
Some cultures place emphasis on face-to-face communication. This is not because they dislike technology but because face-to-face communication reveals a great deal more than a letter, an e-mail or a voice mail can deliver. People make eye contact during face-to-face meetings. Some people look away when they are lying. Someone lying during a face-to-face meeting who can't make eye contact would never reveal any incriminating information over the telephone or via a text message. In addition, reading a person's body language shows if he is being receptive to an idea or resistant. Knowing how someone receives information allows for changes in delivery and presentation.
Stress is a factor in many lives. Some of that stress comes from workplace situations. Having face-to-face meetings with individuals and groups allows you to actually meet and discuss problems with individuals. Reading a file on someone does not carry the same weight or information as meeting that person, looking in his eyes and having a conversation with him. Face-to-face communication also recognises the value of the person as an individual, rather than as a nameless cog in a corporate machine. When workers feel valued and acknowledged, morale generally improves and productivity rises.
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- CIO; The Importance of Face-to-Face Communication at Work; Chuck Martin; March 2007
- IEEE Transactions on Professional Communications; The Role of Face-to-Face...Teams; Kevin Crowston, et al.; February 2007
- The Peace Corps: Styles of Communication
- Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry: Workplace Violence Prevention Guide