I’m only human

Rosanna Machado | March 31, 2021

In the past couple of weeks, I have worked onsite for a couple of virtual events. Despite being a very sociable creature, it was a bit dauting to think about mixing with others after so long and yet when I experienced the power of human connection, I realised exactly what I had been missing.

A colleague of mine used to describe going onsite for a live event as ‘doors to manual’. After weeks of careful planning, putting documentation in place, using every collaboration tool under the sun, you are thrown together to make it happen. Invariably things do not go according to plan, but it is amazing to see people think differently and creatively to solve problems and how much of a buzz you get from the shared journey of both stress and joy. There’s a sense that you are all in it together and by talking it through, solutions can be found.

I have worked from home for most of my working life and yet always favour meeting clients face-to-face, as building those relationships tends to happen faster that way. The past year has taught me that there is a lot that can be done virtually, particularly when relationships are already well-established. But it has also taught me that the buzz, shared experience and community of coming together in person is hard to replicate online, particularly when so much of what happens is picking up on non-verbal cues and showing empathy.

As the UK starts to open up in 2021, there is no doubt that the world of work will look very different. I do think that rather than coming up with a set number of days to work in the office or from home, we need to look at when it adds value to come together. There is no formula that works for everyone – it is very much dependent on the task in hand and the people and personalities involved. It’s also worth thinking about more junior members of the team who might be missing out on learning and development which would naturally occur from being in an office environment.

Have a think about the type of environment that you are trying to create and the outcome that you would like. Do I want to encourage creativity? Am I creating a supportive environment? Is this about creating a sense of community? Do I need to solve a problem? How can I build team rapport? How can I create a learning culture?

Once you know what you are trying to create, then you can go about creating that environment whether that’s in person or online. It’s not to say that these things can’t be created online but it often takes more careful curation. We all crave human connection, and it can be achieved in lots of ways but don’t underestimate the value of going back to basics with the power of speech.