In the post-lockdown world companies are faced with many questions about moving forward. As we know, COVID19 is still out there and although it doesn’t seem as bad as it was last October, we are still in the midst of it.
However, many business owners are now willing to adapt to a hybrid workplace which includes in-person meetings. According to Bloomberg.com, CEO of BlackRock Inc., Larry Fink claims,
“There’s no substitute for in-person meetings...It’s often through a less structured conversation than one can have on a video call that we learn most about each other and experience intangibles, like culture, that are hard to see through a screen.”
He will be resuming in-person, face-to-face meetings as soon as he can. He believes there is an importance to meeting in-person and we have evidence to prove he is in fact correct.
Many studies have been conducted proving how important social interaction is for our mental and physical health. Scientists have proven time and time again just how impactful healthy and close relational ties can be to your wellness. A study done by Harvard University proved that embracing the community around you can help you live longer. In this article it states:
“Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.”
The study followed the lives of 268 Harvard sophomores for over 80 years and monitored their health to see which habits or lifestyle choices could lead to a happy and healthy life. One of the directors of the study spoke about the research and claimed,
“Those who kept warm relationships got to live longer and happier…and the loners often died earlier. Loneliness kills…It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”
In an article by the New York Times, the writer claims that based on research,
“Social isolation is on a par with high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise or smoking as a risk factor for illness and early death.”
Another finding said that people who are chronically lacking in social contacts are more likely to experience elevated levels of stress and inflammation. Venting to other people about your problems or stressors can oftentimes be an effective stress reliever. Without that opportunity or outlet due to lack of social interaction, an elevation of stress and in turn a higher risk of inflammation can occur. In a study done by the National Institute of Health, researchers began to look into how social interactions can affect your health. In the study it claims,
“Poor quality and low quantity of social ties have also been associated with inflammatory biomarkers and impaired immune function, factors associated with adverse health outcomes and mortality.”
A lower quality or quantity of social interaction can result in overall poor health.
As well as negatives to not having social interactions, there are also positive aspects even in the midst of a pandemic. The National Institute of Health states,
“Social ties can instil a sense of responsibility and concern for others that then lead individuals to engage in behaviours that protect the health of others, as well as their own health. Social ties provide information and create norms that further influence health habits.” Returning to in-person workplace meetings will help teach people how to conduct themselves safely and mindfully amidst a pandemic. Social distancing and masks are new for just about everyone in The West and by not allowing us to put those things into practice in the workplace we will never learn how to be safe around one another moving forward. By interacting with others and being surrounded by new people your mind is opened to new ways of thinking and new ideas that you could never think of on your own.
An article by Shannon Kelly for SpeedNetworking.com explains,
“Meeting face-to-face gives you the whole picture. You can read people—and their intentions and true feelings—in ways that simply aren’t possible online.”
Speaking to people face-to-face allows you to understand their tone, motives and ideas, whereas online it's more difficult because of the distractions.
“Meeting face-to-face establishes stronger relationships. It shows you’re willing to go the extra mile to get to know someone, it builds trust, and it shows that you value that relationship…It focuses on human connection, requires all participants to be fully present, and is free from distractions.”
”In-person connection is vital for our mental and physical wellbeing as well as our businesses well beings.
Danielle Tilley, business development director at Venson, says,
“Whether formal or informal, meetings are an essential part of supporting a business, and while we have adapted to different ways of working in the pandemic to ensure we can achieve business goals, our survey indicates employees have a positive attitude to making physical contact with work colleagues, clients and business acquaintances…the company’s survey of 200 employees found 64% of respondents value collaborating face-to-face instead of using video calls.”
In order to keep worker morale and wellness up which in turn will keep your business running smoothly and prospering, in-person meetings and face-to-face connection is vital. Employees need contact with their colleagues in order to remain successful and full of ideas.
Mercycare offers some benefits to in-person socialisation and also explains,
“Social networks and online interactions may give people a false sense of connectedness. We still need physical in-person connections for our own mental health.”
Connectedness through social media and online cannot replace the connection you get when in-person. Mercycare highlights some benefits:
“Better mental health—it can lighten your mood and make you feel happier, lower your risk of dementia—social interaction is good for your brain health, promotes a sense of safety, belonging and security, allows you to confide in others and let them confide in you.”
The more beneficial and abundant social interactions a person has, the healthier they will most likely be. An important step in caring for your employees’ mental and physical health is providing the opportunities for them to get connected and feel a part of their community.
We need each other to grow. By confining your business to purely online meetings and interactions, it could stunt the growth of the company. We need to interact with one another in order to gain more insight into ideas or pitches that we, alone, may have never thought of, or to come up with ideas that need extra brainpower to formulate. Using online resources such as Zoom or Skype can definitely be helpful, especially during a pandemic when you legally cannot surround yourself with people. However, those resources can be filled with distractions that you would not encounter in a face-to-face meeting.
Also, as stated before it cannot replace the effects of real social interactions and this kind of isolation can even be harmful to your employees. In the end, if you want your business to thrive in the post-pandemic world, a hybrid approach which includes in-person meetings and training is best.