Virtual vs Face-to Face - is one better than the other?
How we’re working now
It has also meant that most, if not all, business meetings have become virtual. Either happening as a video call or phone calls.
But this has meant that the valuable original face to face meetings haven’t been able to take place.
What does face to face offer which remote working cannot?
You could argue that video calls are a form of face-to-face communication. You are effectively communicating ‘in person’ virtually.
Physically being face to face provides that extra element which sometimes isn’t possible virtually.
The extra element I’m talking about is body language.
Body language makes up a huge part of how we communicate with each other. These non-verbal signals help to give our spoken language added context, emotion, and tone. We do this through our posture, gestures, and facial expressions. Non-verbal communication is a large part in how we build interpersonal relationships.
When on a video call, what you don’t fully see is posture or gestures, as the video call usually only captures people’s head and shoulders and doesn’t show our whole bodies.
This can hide a huge amount of body language, showing our intentions, our response, and feelings.
By not capturing these tells, it can be difficult to fully connect or be creative with each other when talking virtually.
Does technology have agility and ability to replicate face to face?
Collaboration and communication technology has exploded in recent years, with new solutions being released all the time. The most familiar are Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
They certainly have the collaboration aspects needed to connect, share, and innovate together.
I believe that the technology has a long way to go before it can truly replicate face to face. Whether it’s around sharing analysis of body language to recipients or allowing people to enter their full bodies into a virtual room as holograms. There’s a lot of great innovative possibilities.
Just take inspiration from Star Trek or Star Wars, that show has certainly helped up branch into developing science fiction creativity into reality.
They need to go further to share our non-verbal communications. This makes up more than 90% of how we communicate together. So once technology has mastered this aspect, then I feel virtual face-to-face could truly replace physical face-to-face communication.
Should we replicate face to face?
As our world becomes more digital, both in our working and personal lives, it can seem like the next logical step to fully replicate face to face digitally.
But I believe that we could lose a lot if we do this.
What could we lose?
We could lose our ability to connect with each other, to interpret non-verbal language showing people’s views, intentions, thoughts, and feelings. We could lose our empathy, our ability to pick up on people’s emotions and respond appropriately.
Virtual face to face meetings is also much more tiring than physically meeting in person. You have to concentrate a lot harder to really get the most out of this form of communication. What you would pick up instinctively in person (body language, tone of voice) you have to really analyse on video calls.
So, the really question.
Will we go back to face-to-face?
Yes, I believe we will. Virtual meetings have their place, and they will improve as technology advances. But there will always be a place for meeting up physically. Humans naturally are a social being, so we need to physically be together to feel true connection and that will never change.