Don’t underestimate the value of in-person meetings

Some people may consider telecommuting part of their “dream job” scenario. After all, they can work from home and still have a meaningful impact in their chosen profession.

With instant messaging, video conferencing and “net meetings,” the need for actually “going to work” somewhere is fading. But, is that a good thing?

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)

I thought of this scripture with regard to our business world today. With so many people not “assembling,” I can’t help but wonder about the impact of the telecommute.

While reading, “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, I learned the Apple Computer chief wanted a building designed so that employees would have to cross paths on a regular basis, just to do their regular job-oriented routines. From an efficiency standpoint, this didn’t seem to make much sense.

Jobs wanted “random collaboration” to take place. As long as people were segregated to their own departments, offices, etc., interaction would rarely take place.

Through the course of common courtesies, members of different departments might just discuss their projects and get a different perspective from a colleague.

Who knows, that iPhone, iPad or other Apple product you own might just be the result of random collaboration.

I have seen evidence of this first hand in my own office. Someone from the news department is talking about a story package they are developing, and someone from advertising or circulation offers another perspective — or perhaps a sales opportunity is borne out of the idea.

Do not sell short the power of collaboration — even if it seems “inconvenient” to come into the office.

David A. Specht Jr. is editor and publisher of the Minden Press-Herald.

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