Fans of the classic television show The Twilight Zone probably remember the series’ famous first episode, “Where Is Everybody?” A man finds himself alone in a deserted town, his memory a blank. He walks down the streets, into diners and stores, increasingly desperate for someone to talk to, all the while finding evidence of someone’s presence – a cigar burning in an ashtray, food cooking on a griddle, a dripping faucet – but never catching up to the mysteriously absent residents of the town. Finally he breaks down sobbing, feeling hopelessly alone. He is the last person on Earth.
Interpersonal communication stands at the heart of every relationship, whether you are interacting with a loved one, a spouse, a friend, a colleague or even the barista at the local coffee shop. However, oftentimes this kind of face-to-face communication is hard to replicate if you are working in a remote or home office.
But it’s not just remote employees who could benefit from a bit of face time. Researchers have long known that there are serious health issues associated with loneliness, but in this modern, online world, we all too often find ourselves working in our own little bubble, even if we’re at the office five days a week.
Both Forbes Magazine and the Houston Chronicle recently ran articles about the most important benefits of face-to-face relationships between coworkers, which ranged from simply fostering empathy to maximizing job satisfaction. But for many companies – especially smaller ones, with employees in far-flung locales – flying everyone out to corporate headquarters like the woman who wrote the Forbes article just isn’t in the budget.
Enter video conferencing. Video conferencing isn’t just about saving money or increasing sales and human-resources productivity; it can actually have huge additional benefits, the value of which cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Because video conferencing solutions replicate all facets of communication – from tone of voice to facial cues – they’re much better at inspiring the camaraderie and empathy business relationship are built on. As the Chronicle article pointed out, effective communication is vital to a collaborative environment, and for companies whose employees don’t get to see each other in person regularly, being able to replicate that experience is invaluable.
And it’s not just about interoffice relationships – you can’t put a price tag on a personal relationship with vendors, clients, and prospective customers. If you are known as more than just a name on an email signature, your business partners will know they can count on you.
Simply put, video conferencing isn’t just about holding meetings and interviewing job candidates. It’s about bringing old-fashioned, tried-and-true business relationships into the 21st Century. It’s about bringing your world closer together, so you don’t feel like the last person on planet Earth.
– Dan Lothringer
Dan is a contributing writer for VideoConferencingSpot.com.