Technology offers many different ways for people to communicate. There is e-mail, instant messenger, video conferencing, telephone, and so on. However, sometimes there is no substitute for the traditional face-to-face meeting. Unfortunately though, so many people see this as being an inefficient means of communicating with all the electronic methods that are now available.
From my experience in the corporate environment, more can be accomplished in a single face-to-face meeting than any string of e-mails or instant messenger conversations. Although it is not always a feasible method, it is definitely my number one method of choice when I need to get something important accomplished.
I have seen many people in the IT world sit at their desks all day long without interacting with a single person. Yes they communicate with other people but they solely rely on electronic communications. Instead of walking down the hall and deliver their message in person, they opt to send an e-mail instead. In their opinion they are likely being efficient. However, in my opinion, they are missing out on a very important aspect of life – meaningful in-person interaction with other people. The result is that many people end up being physically isolated.
I am all for electronic communications but I will choose taking a co-worker out for coffee to discuss a project over a string of e-mails any day. It is a matter of balance and realizing that a lack of face-to-face interaction is not healthy. Businesses should recognize this trend and encourage users to opt traditional communication methods along with electronic methods. Some have already taken steps to address the issue by declaring “e-mail free Fridays.” So the next time you need to communicate something to a co-worker, why not throw efficiency to the wind, forget the e-mail, leave the BlackBerry at your desk, and invite them for coffee.