When it comes to the rhetoric of productivity and efficiency, they tend to be used interchangeably.  However, I like to think of them as sisters, not twins, closely related, but not identical.  If we are not efficient, productivity suffers.  Efficiency can be related to the “how”, and productivity to the “what”.  In the case of to meet or not to meet, the slight variance in the DNA of these two words, can make all the difference.

For example, if my business partners are in Switzerland, it may seem efficient to do business over email, Skype or by other virtual means.  Time and money are saved by not traveling, and meetings can take place just about anytime and anywhere.  That’s the “how”, and in theory, it seems quite efficient.  If my job, however, is to sell productivity consulting services (or computers, or pumpkins or Wonka bars…it doesn’t matter what business you’re in), and it takes 3 months of virtual communication to close a 20 minute deal, then my output or productivity (the “what”) has suffered.

What’s my point?  Well, if the point is to be productive (to produce and generate revenue), and we fail, then it’s time to re-examine the “how”.  The cost savings in not traveling doesn’t always outweigh the revenue lost due to low productivity.  Here are 5 reasons why that’s true.  (Entrepreneur, August 2014)

5 Reasons Face to Face Meetings Boost Productivity

1.  Face to face meetings build trust between business partners more quickly than virtual connections.  An investment in travel can result in time and money saved.  Costly mistakes can be avoided by sorting through details in a personal setting.

2.  Social time with clients and business partners builds stronger relationships.  Having dinner together can break communication barriers between international relationships, helping business to flow more smoothly going forward.

3.  Neurologically, our brains respond differently to face-to-face interactions.  Seeing someone’s face helps the brain understand who they are and how they feel.  This is why we often feel more “known” when meeting in person, as opposed to by phone or Skype.

4. Body language and facial expression are very revealing factors when building relationships with business partners.  Eye contact makes a difference.  Not only does it help to maintain focus and attention, but it can also help detect when something is wrong.

5.  The brain stores facial and speech recognition, and retrieves it in future encounters.  Once you meet in person, subsequent virtual connections become easier and more productive.

Next time you’re faced with the question of whether or not to make that long distance trip, consider how the above 5 factors may boost productivity.  How (efficiency) you meet someone makes all the difference in what (productivity) you get out of it.



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