In recent blogs I have covered various aspects of the need for face-to-face (f2f) interaction in telework situations. Here I’ll go into more detail so you can decide for yourself what’s needed. What follows is a hierarchy of decision points.
Face-to-face interaction is usually most likely to be required where communication is sensitive or there is great uncertainty. Some examples:
- Marriage proposals
- High level diplomatic or political meetings
- Project organizational and/or review sessions
- Contract negotiations
- Performance appraisals
In short, f2f is desirable in situations where the involved parties need as many visual cues as practicable to make comfortable decisions. [Note that a previous blog pointed out that there is a difference between desirable and required.] As technology continues to improve it becomes easier to transmit subtle cues via telecommunications. As an example, the column Letter from China: Meet Dr. Freud in the 10 January 2011 issue of The New Yorker describes a series of Freudian analysis sessions in which the patients are in China and the analysts are in the United States. The communications medium? Skype. As is sometimes the case the interacting parties were more uncomfortable when meeting f2f for the first time than they were in Skype-mediated sessions.
Routine information exchange
At the other end of the spectrum is routine, no surprise, information transfer. Continue reading Face time, Part 2.5: Details