Forget FaceTime, Let’s Gear It For Face-To-Face Time

A new type of co-worker is changing office life: Cognitive computing. Yes, human-to-machine collaboration is in the collective future, and digital solutions are already affecting the way we interact with each other in the present moment – but advances in technology, no matter how great, do not displace the need for human-to-human interaction at work; in contrary, it reinforces it.

While this may make simple sense to many of us, it’s important to recognize that the liquid workforce combined with new ways of living and working make the value of in-person engagement more evident to some of us, than to others. According to a new research, two thirds of teens would rather chat online than in person. But it doesn’t mean they don’t want to come face to face. They privilege human interaction for things which matter the most – socializing. As we prepare for the future of work, it’s important for workplace leaders to understand the depth of the people’s need for an authentic human experience—while also embracing the many benefits of digitalization, too.

In an era where we can engage with one another via screen in any number of mediums, it comes down to the power of sparking human experience at work.

How a sensory, interactive workplace can power a human experience

Humans are inherently social animals. Some research, for example, suggests that the age of digitization is making people feel lonelier, with loneliness currently affecting one-fifth of the U.S. population. If people feel disconnected to each other at work, they may also be less likely to share ideas—the lifeblood of innovation.

By contrast, a workplace where people are inspired to share in person is less likely to lead to loneliness, and more likely to boost productivity. A face-to-face meeting, for instance, is considered more effective than email—34 times more so in fact, according to a Harvard Business Review study.

To engage people in an increasingly digital world, we need to help show that being human matters. Recent research, Workplace, powered by Human Experience, has found that nourishing, people-oriented environments are in high demand. Of the 7,000 survey takers we heard from, more than a third say personalization of workplace is essential, and more than 40 percent report they’d do better work every day if they had choice between a range of workspaces built to suit the various tasks at hand.

People are craving a unique mix of sensory experiences, over uniformity. Too often, our senses are stifled by stuffy, one-size-fits-all cubicles. In the dawning age of robotics, a humanized space can matter more than you think. Ambiences that stimulate our senses can inspire us to meet our potential, to get more creative, and to engage with one another for the greater good. That means offering a mix of places where people can convene, from inviting social spots, to formal meeting rooms, in addition to good heads-down space for those moments when our inner voice needs time to itself.