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Face to Face Interaction Is Crucial to Innovation in Tech

Pandemic fatigue, in case you hadn’t noticed, is a real thing. By now, most of us are more than ready for a return to normalcy – or at least something close to the familiar rhythms we knew a few years ago. For some, that includes a return to the office. One of the pandemic’s big revelations was the demonstration of our ability to get work done from home and to leverage or create new tools that facilitate remote work. But it also revealed something that’s talked about less often: most businesses, particularly in the technology space, still thrive off face-to-face interaction.

We shouldn’t be too quick to gloss over the benefits of work-from-home: flexibility, privacy and the world’s shortest commute. Plus, remote work opens up a world of possibilities for introverts and folks with family care commitments or mobility challenges, who have been overlooked too often in the past. Yet there are aspects to certain types of work that simply don’t compare without face-to-face collaboration: creativity, simply put, is easier to foster in person.

At TackleAI, we dedicate Friday afternoons to gathering as a team to ideate, solve problems, build bonds and work on solving the impossible. We’ve found that teams are more capable of outside-the-box thinking and innovation when we’re scribbling furiously on a whiteboard, feeding off the energy between one another and dedicating creative time to a space meant for work.

Even after more than two years of navigating Zoom calls, spotty WiFi connections and kid duty, we may be selling short the power of pulling together a crew, ducking into a conference room and bouncing around ideas – even for just 30 minutes at a time. Engaging those like-minded people in that space is important, and it starts with clearing away life interruptions and other distractions to allow creatives to do what they do best: create.

By coming together in a single space as a group, we can build stronger teams and a collective purpose. A voice on the phone or a talking head on your computer screen is just that. But sitting shoulder to shoulder with colleagues, you get to know them. You build personal connections, pick up on tone and body language. Communication becomes easier, deeper. The stakes are higher when you’re working with other human beings, and you’re more likely to hold yourself accountable. You go to lunch every day with Todd in your company’s data division. You’ve met his wife and kids. He shared his Netflix password with you. How do you let that guy down?

Another overwhelming advantage of in-person interaction: real-time feedback. When you’re chopping it up as a group surrounded by the same four walls, bouncing ideas off one another, you wind up solving problems faster. A project or task that could take as long as a month in a virtual setting might be knocked out in a matter of hours in a face-to-face setting. Collaboration plus focus equals productivity.

To be clear, remote work still has its place. Whether a business incorporates a hybrid model or offers dedicated work-from-home days, companies should understand the benefits of remote work and how employees value the flexibility and change of pace it offers. We just can’t forget about where – and more importantly, with whom – our most creative efforts happen: gathered together.

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