Why the office is still important for professional communicators

Here’s one pro’s argument on why we should all consider a return to the office.

Why offices still matter

Video calls, fully remote teams and the end of business travel—is this the new standard for the professional business world?

Thanks to advances in technology, companies have been able to withstand many of the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic by pivoting to short-term mitigation strategies, such as full-time remote work. It’s been going so well, in fact, the campaign against the physical office is in full swing. Once the pandemic subsides, is it worth it to go back to the office?

While not a repudiation of remote work, here are three reasons to build a case on the importance of the office for communicators:

1. Communication is easier in person.

“You’re on mute” was probably the most used phrase of 2020, and it’d be near the top for 2021, too.

Let’s face it: Humans are uniquely designed to communicate with other humans. In fact, a HBR study found that “face-to-face requests were 34 times more effective at getting completed than emailed ones.”

2. Team camaraderie is important—and easier to build in person.

Building a team and fostering trust within it is crucial to finding success. According to Wrike, “People who have strong friendships at their workplace are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work and 50% more satisfied with their work.”

3. Nonverbal communication is harder to pick up on over Zoom.

The things we don’t say can tell someone a lot about us. When remote working, “reading the room” is challenging, especially when cameras are not turned on during video calls. In one study, “nonverbal communication has been shown to carry between 65% and 93% more impact than the actual words spoken.”

For professional communicators, walking the halls to serve as in-house consultants, or offering services such as media training and crisis scenario planning, the work is just better if conducted in person. While remote work has benefits that might make HR happy, such as sourcing talent from across the world or allowing for flexibility in schedules, it makes communication more challenging—and for communication teams, it might be worthwhile to return to a safe office, in accordance with CDC guidelines.

What do you think? Let us know if you think you will all be back in the office—or doing something else—in the comments below.

Collin Burwinkel is a member of the Marketing, Public Relations & Communications team at Transwestern, a privately held commercial real estate firm. He can be reached at: collin.burwinkel@transwestern.com

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