During the last few months, we have finally been seeing people in person again and having that face-to-face interaction that we have missed. Workers being back in the office has helped boost face to face interaction in the workplace, whereas the easing of restrictions has allowed us to meet up with friends and family. In this blog post, I will talk about the value of face-to-face interaction as well as discuss how it can be balanced by virtual interaction going forward.
Looking back on calls which formed the vast majority of my social interactions from March 2020 to April 2021, I do think calling people, whether that was via video call or not was useful at the time. It is important to keep in touch with friends and family and calling them allows us to do that easily. Furthermore, I found arranging calls back then a lot easier logistics wise compared to arranging face to face catch ups now. This is because you avoid the trouble of having to commute to the social plan that is being done face to face, meaning that you can give shorter notice to others when arranging catch ups over call. However, one thing that I found difficult about catch up calls was that they were very repetitive, in that I was sat in my desk and talking to people on the other side of a screen (or the phone) every time. This led to me feeling fatigued and bored of catch-up calls.
One key benefit of face-to-face interaction is that it is easier to convey emotions. In my opinion, one thing that makes interacting with others special is the ability to express a wide range of emotions such as being happy, sad, surprised etc, even if it is expressed in a subtle way. The emotion aspect adds a personal side to interactions with others, and this happens a lot faster and easier when interacting in person. As it is harder to convey emotions over call or message, I certainly feel that it leads to that personal side being lost, which I found was a barrier when it came to opening up about worries or challenges, or even achievements and things I was excited about.
Another benefit of face-to-face interaction is the additional variety. As mentioned before, catch up calls can get very repetitive in that it predominantly consists of sitting on a desk and talking to people on the other side of a screen or phone. In the workplace, I found that my face-to-face interactions with others was varied, and included spontaneous catch ups when bumping into people, catching up with people over lunch as well as during work socials. Furthermore, there are lots of things that you can do when meeting friends or family face to face, such as going for a walk, going out for a meal, going to the cinema, playing sports etc. In my opinion, the variety that comes with face-to-face interactions is what a lot of people will value a lot more post pandemic.
In my opinion, although I prefer face to face interactions, I do think there are benefits of balancing face to face interactions with virtual interactions going forward. This pandemic has shown a lot of people that it is possible to keep in touch with people virtually. Therefore, it isn’t essential for all of your interactions with friends and family to be face to face. The balance between face to face and virtual interactions also will depend on the situation you are in. For example, if you are facing an extremely busy schedule then you might find that planning face to face catch ups and/or commuting to the place where the face to face catch up is happening difficult to find time for, and therefore you may find virtual catch ups easier.