Posted on July 28, 2017 by staff

In defence of leaving the office


I’m a natural introvert, which means I’ll do pretty much anything to avoid meeting new people.

Through email, Skype, WhatsApp and the trusty telephone, tech has provided me with all the tools I need to do my job without ever having to actually be in the same room as another human.

This is true for most jobs.

Whether you’re awkward, time-poor, trying to ‘work smarter’ or just feeling a bit lazy, most people could now quite comfortably do most of their business without battling through rush-hour traffic for meetings.

With that in mind, it might seem a bit mad that the BusinessCloud team took our lives into our hands and did an eight-hour round trip to Cardiff earlier this week.

On Tuesday we hosted a round table on the Welsh tech sector, and on Monday we did some interviews with local businesses and hubs which could have been done over the phone.

So, was it worth the hassle?

Luckily the answer is yes. Even with digital communication getting better every day, meeting in person is still the best way to get the most out of people and find new and unexpected opportunities.

Tech should be a facilitator not a substitute for meeting up.

To do business with someone you need to see the whites of their eyes, as my editor Chris is fond of saying. It’s true. You’re more likely to remember someone if you’ve met in person, and to build a better relationship.

Research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology earlier this year found that people usually overestimate how persuasive they are over text-based communication, and underestimate how persuasive they are over face-to-face communication.

It concluded a face-to-face request is 34 times more likely to be approved than via email, so next time you’re considering dropping your boss a holiday request, maybe go and say hi in person instead.

If you’re a fan of a solid handshake the news is good too.

An experiment done by researchers at the University of Chicago and Harvard found negotiators who shook hands were more open and honest, and more likely to get what they wanted from the meeting.

It’s also much easier to explain a concept and convey an idea, and your passion for that idea, in person.

Tech start-up Echosec UK was at our Cardiff round table earlier this week, and also on our recent 101 Rising Stars of Tech list.

Because of the list, I’d spent a fair bit of time researching their business and asking them to describe what they did via email.

However it wasn’t until I sat down with their CEO Ben in person this week that I realised the scope of the incredible work they’re doing – there’ll be more on that in our upcoming magazine.

Videoconferencing might seem like an obvious middle ground here – a way of having it all.

Most people probably associate it with frustrating lags and frozen pictures but it’s having a bit of a renaissance and improving, fast.

93 per cent of human interaction is non-verbal and, as videoconferencing ditches its glitches, it’ll become a decent option if you really can’t get away from the office.

But it’s still not the same as meeting someone in person.

Tech and business are still ultimately about people, and people need to make a connection that doesn’t involve a cable.

Despite all the reasons not to go to Cardiff – including having loads of work waiting for me at the office and being subjected to Chris’ questionable car music – it was a great trip.

We made some great connections, put our name out there and got loads of great in-depth content.

Hiding behind my emails is an easy option but, despite the temptation to stay at my desk, getting out there and meeting people in person is definitely worth the hassle.