Recently, I read an article in the Harvard Business Manager about four myths of in-person work. Here are my thoughts about these myths and what you can do instead.
Myth #1: In-person learning is more effective.
This is a myth I hear as a workshop facilitator and when conducting training every time: What a pity we don’t meet. „People don’t care all that much about learning effectiveness — they just want to bring people physically together, and “learning” seems like a solid justification.“ I couldn’t agree more.
Learning virtually is as effective as in person. Have well-designed virtual training and apply special facilitation skills to have a powerful impact in the virtual environment.
Myth #2: In-person events help create culture.
I love this definition of culture given in the article: „Culture is about how we work together, how we’re expected to behave with one another, the goals we collectively pursue, and the way we respond to challenges and setbacks.“
In my opinion, you can’t experience this in a nutshell. It would be best if you had routines, habits, and mechanisms that work in daily digital collaboration. You can have in-person events for a kick-off. But you build and live the culture every day. Leaders often design great team bonding days in person, but miss (or don’t know) live the culture at a distance. Learn how to create and maintain a digital work culture where people can give their best and be part of it.
Myth #3: People need a break from their screens.
This is a core problem of a badly digital work organisation. I call this the „copy-and-paste-office-organisation“ in a virtual work environment. People rush from virtual meetings to virtual meetings and try to do every task virtually together. This is the entry door to become burned out when sitting before the screen all day long. Leaders can‘t solve this just by adding in-person meetings on top. Learn how to design a productive, stressed-reduced, and „healthy“ digital work organisation where synchronous and asynchronous work has a good balance.
Myth #4: Networking and connection can only be made in person
I can speak for myself when I say my best friends and connections are remote, and I rarely meet them in person. It is a stepping out of the comfort zone to get to know people virtually and start a conversation online. However, you learn what networking is about because sticking to small talk won’t increase the connection. Networking is about finding a bond with people (same interests, hobbies, e.g.) and helping each other. These are genuine connections for life.
When should you meet then? Or don’t we meet at all?
I have experienced that occasional meetings with the team can have a powerful impact on team trust. Intense in-person boot camps also help move complex strategic tasks/work forward. But please don’t meet when the problem can be solved in an email or team chat.
What are your thoughts? Do you know other myths? When do you meet in person? I would love to learn about your experiences.
Here is the link to the article in the Harvard Business Manager.