As part of an $80 million condo conversion, a colleague of mine once managed three units: sales, leasing, and construction. Leasing was in the main clubhouse, sales in a converted unit, and construction in another converted unit. Between them all was a pool.
The project was complex, and deadlines were tight. As a result, digital communication led to huge conflicts, spawning epic e-mail chains, even though everyone was no more than 30 to 100 feet apart. So, the company instituted a policy called “walk across the pond” (the pool). If communication required more than three e-mails, employees would walk across the pond and talk.
Relationships and productivity dramatically improved.
People don't want to talk face to face. This isn't a generational issue. It's a human issue.
Digital communication is easier because we're hardwired to avoid conflict and we like control. At work, we can rationalize the convenience of reaching people quickly or that much of our team is never in the office anyway. Our brains, however, are also cocooning us from unpleasantness. That terse, one-word (with a period, no less!) answer to an e-mail seems so innocent in digital form, but imagine giving the same answer in person at a meeting. You'd probably be able to cut through the tension with a knife.
Constant connection creates digital distance. And that is bad for your team. Why? For one thing, we risk isolation. This seems counterintuitive, ...