Why online communication beats face to face meetings (almost) every time
As a Virtual Assistant, I have become accustomed to working with people from all over the world without ever meeting them face to face. It feels completely natural to me and I find work relationships and friendships develop quite easily through email, skype and the occasional (optional) phone call.
It is amazing how you can tell how a person is feeling by reading their emails or skype messages. In a just a few words or sentences, real emotions (happiness, sadness, frustration, joy) can be seen. Even if someone is trying to conceal what they are feeling, it often “leaks” through.
This allows us to really take care of our clients and team and to ensure everyone is getting what they need. Communication is key for all collaborative working and Syma and I place a high value on getting our communication right.
Some people still feel that face to face meetings are the best way to collaborate. Here are 3 reasons why I think online communication beats face to face meetings every time:
I recently read an article on How to improve productivity in your business in 5 easy steps. It was all good advice, but the one step that jumped out at me was “If at all possible, avoid meetings like the plague”. The author emphasised how much time is taken by a meeting. You need to consider the time for all the people involved, travel to the meeting, etc. If, instead, there is a more efficient way to communicate and collaborate you should take it every time. At Coastal VAs we embrace this and use tools such as email, skype, Basecamp and Unison to make our communication as efficient as possible.
Being put on the spot and having to give off the cuff responses can really impact the quality of communication. If instead you have time to craft an email, you can really improve your quality and clarity. Even on skype, you can take those precious few moments to gather your thoughts and frame a clear and concise reply. I also find it helps to have access to everything I need in front of me on my laptop. I can reference earlier skype conversations, emails, etc.
When we are collaborating on a project, any one of the participants can choose when it is best for them to contribute. If you are a night owl, perhaps 11pm is the perfect time for you to get your thoughts down. By not restricting when the communication happens, we allow people to work when it best suits them. It is amazing how much this positively impacts efficiency and quality too!
Having said all that, Syma and I still like to get out for a nice coffee and a chat. A single meeting with a client in person can really set us up for many years of happy online collaboration.