The Key for Winning in a Remote World is to be More In-Person
I know you can easily see the paradox in the title. Being a remote company — or just working remotely — comes with many advantages: a more flexible lifestyle, the ability to work wherever we want, and the easiness of connecting with clients and peers around the world without leaving our desks.
Honestly, I can’t complain how impactful going remote was to me in both personal and professional aspects of life. I can work with the people I want to without the need to live next to them. I can visit my family and be there when they need me, without needing to ask permission to do so or even worrying about missing some days in the office — as long as I maintain a nice balance with my job.
The “perks” we live in
The remote work environment is full “benefits,” but to succeed in this world, we can’t forget the human touch.
It’s not difficult nowadays to transform all our social interactions into screen interactions.
We change in-person meetings for video calls; handwritten notes for Whatsapp or SMS messages; seeing a friend for liking and tagging their pictures on Instagram; etc.
I won’t lie, we all do that, and I’m not here to condemn Social Media or the “evolution” of human communication. I confess I love it. We are more connected than ever and we can reach those we love whenever we want to with a single device in our pockets.
However, in a world where technology allowed us to be more connected, whenever we can be “in-person,” more memorable these moments are.
The impact of a handwritten note
When was the last time you received a handwritten letter? Actually, have you ever received any? Even though these primordial means of communication seem to be fading away, they are more vigorous than ever.
I don’t have a backup of the messages I exchanged with my wife during all those years we’ve been together, but I keep all the letters and notes we wrote to each other.
Although it creates excellent memories in a personal relationship, it’s not exclusive to that. The same applies perfectly to business.
In a world where both us and our clients are dealing with emails and text messages every day, being able to leave — for example — a personal handwritten letter turns it into a remarkable experience.
The ”long-term friend effect”
Even better than leaving notes and letters, is to be vis-à-vis with someone. We spend so much time of our days face to face with a screen that we miss this human connection. Yes, we can do a lot by email and messages in a Slack channel, but I don’t remember a single time I had a blast sending an email, I just remember the many coffees I had with interesting people I met in-person.
Transforming a digital connection into an in-person meeting creates what I call the “long-term friend effect.” When you are chatting with someone online for months — or even years — and you have the experience of meeting her in person, the described effect happens. Even with just a few months-long relationships, talking in person with someone you only knew online creates the same effect as when we go back to our hometown and see our childhood friends again.
These encounters can make any relationships even stronger, and because the conversation started online, when you’re face to face with the other person, it seems you know each other for many many years.
The same applies to business
The remote work environment made it easier for us to talk in a matter of seconds to many clients and team members in different states and countries. It’s tricky to believe email is all it takes to nourish relationships. The truth is that in business, everything I said here is even stronger.
With the constant efforts of many companies to stand-out, most don’t realize that to be on top, you need to be in front. In front of your prospects. In front of your clients. Face-to-face.
Just “being in town” and grabbing a coffee together creates an impact thousands of emails could never achieve. While all your competitors are emailing, texting and calling your clients you should be there in front of them, enjoying some time together, and creating experiences. It’s hard to stick in our memories the texts on an email or the voice over the phone when compared to real experiences lived together.
Working remotely doesn’t mean you need to be absent. It’s a matter of choosing to be 100% present whenever possible.
To thrive as a remote worldwide business, we need to be more human. Instead of dealing with screens, texts, and numbers on a daily basis, create human, warm connections.
The key to success here is to bring humanity to the (sometimes) cold, remote world.
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