David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

I am amazed by the ways many businesses were able to navigate their operations during the pandemic. For us at MACNY, within five days our entire office transitioned to a virtual environment. All of our training went virtual, and we continued to serve our members from the safety of our homes. Our staff set up home offices, we had daily check-ins with our cameras on, and things worked out quite well, but was it possible that something was missing?

For me, that “something” that was missing was a real sense of connection; the feeling of community. Our communications were strained, and we actually thought it was normal. How many times in a meeting did you hear, “You’re muted,” or “Sorry, I missed that” as the image froze. How about the laughing and friendly banter that used to go on in meetings? Were you able to keep that up in the virtual world? How about the body language that we missed because we only saw from the neck up? (You may recall that 55% of our communication is body language.) Yes, we did make it work, but a lot was missing. I heard one leader describe in-person meetings as meetings where terabytes of information were being exchanged by mere proximity, compared to megabytes of data via Zoom. As humans, we are created to discern so much from being in the same room with others.

Zoom is a great tool when we need it. It’s awesome for reducing travel and allowing people great distances away to interact. However, it won’t be able to replicate the sense of community we feel when we are able to connect with others in person. As a trainer, I read so much from the participants’ body language; I can see when I have connected or lost a connection with them. The pandemic has taught me many things, not the least of which is when you need to really connect, it’s best to be together in person.

If you would like to hear more about this topic, please join Marisa Norcross and me for Episode 212 of The Next Page podcast as we discuss exceptions to in-person, when you should consider virtual options, and how to make the most of both.

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