Is digitisation killing face-to-face learning?

by L&D29 Apr 2016
Workplaces right around the world are experiencing a conundrum that is showing no signs of subsiding.

Face-to-face meetings have been recognised as the best way to interact with people at work by 88% of Australians, 85% of New Zealanders and 89% of people across the globe.

However, at the same time most Australians (62%) said their interactions with colleagues are less commonly face-to-face due to technology. In New Zealand the figure is 57% and the global average sits at 46%.

Moreover, the Randstad Workmonitor report (Wave 1 2016) found the majority of Australian workers (81%) believe technology and digitisation are having a major impact on their job.
A key area of change feared by many Australian workers is communication, and the manner in which they interact with fellow workers, clients and customers, according to the findings.
“Technology is undoubtedly having an increasing impact on the way we live, work and play. In the workplace, it forces us to ask the question each day of how, where and when to connect with people,” said Frank Ribuot, CEO Australia & New Zealand at Randstad.
“It would be more time efficient to conference call a client than travel to their office for a face-to-face meeting. And perhaps it’s quicker to email a colleague than stop by their desk for a conversation. But are these interactions as effective as they could be? Would a more meaningful connection and better rapport be established in person?”
Indeed, Randstad’s latest employer branding research has shown that a pleasant working atmosphere is the second most important factor for people when choosing to work for an employer in 2016.
“Key to a pleasant working environment are interpersonal relationships, a sense of comradery with colleagues, and rapport with clients and customers – all things Aussie workers don’t want to lose, but will be affected if face-to-face interactions in the workplace continue to decline,” said Ribuot.
Another interesting statistic from the report was that 65% of Australian workers already feel society is becoming less compassionate due to the growing use of technology.

“There needs to be more to technological advancement in the workplace than simply investing in solutions and tools,” added Ribuot.
“Explaining the motivation for adoption of a new piece of technology and providing upfront training so that staff can make the most of the opportunity, needs to become a priority. Even if your company has adopted software specifically related to communication, such as Skype for Business, it’s vital that company policies still promote regular face-to-face interaction with colleagues and customers.
“It is a matter of finding the right balance between ‘tech’ and ‘touch’ in the workplace. Adopt technologies which will allow the business to become more efficient, deliver a better product or service faster or with a lower return on investment. My advice would be not to let those technologies come at the expense of real life, in person, face-to-face interactions.”

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