image: Amin Eshaiker, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
When it comes to building a winning team, chemistry is essential. In sports, this chemistry is developed on the court or field through nonverbal communication, trust, and accountability. In the business world, it is developed through face-to-face interactions and team-building activities. Remote work has become increasingly popular in recent years, but can it provide the same benefits as in-person communication and collaboration?
Remote work certainly has its advantages, such as the ability to work from anywhere and greater flexibility. It can also lead to increased productivity and efficiency for some employees. However, when it comes to building team chemistry and culture, in-person communication is crucial.
A sports team provides a perfect example of how chemistry is built on the court. When players practice and play together, they learn each other's tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses. They develop a shared understanding of how to play together as a team, which leads to better performance on the court. This is something that cannot be replicated in a virtual setting.
Imagine a basketball team that only practices virtually. They can go over plays and strategies, but they cannot build the trust and nonverbal communication that comes with playing together on the court. Without this chemistry, the team will likely struggle to perform at their best during games.
Similarly, in the business world, building a team culture and chemistry is essential for success. This culture is built through in-person interactions, team-building activities, and shared experiences. It is something that cannot be developed through virtual communication alone.
One aspect of building team chemistry that is often overlooked is the importance of accountability. In sports, veteran players are often given rest days during practice once trust has been built and chemistry exists with coaches and the team. Rookies, on the other hand, are expected to practice every day without exception. This is because they have not yet earned the trust and respect of their teammates and coaches.
Similarly, in the business world, new employees are often given more oversight and accountability than veteran employees. This is because they have not yet proven themselves and earned the trust of their colleagues. Giving rookies the freedom to take rest days or work from home may seem like a way to build trust, but in reality, it can harm their development. By showing up every day and putting in the work, rookies can earn the respect and trust of their colleagues, leading to greater opportunities and success down the line.
Another big component is non-verbal communications. Facial expressions, sarcasm, humor and tone are very difficult to interpret through email and slack, and still very hard to really understand via zoom. Responses are taken out of context, you can't just pop in to someone's office during the height of a problem, we have to coordinate both of our schedules and pick an appropriate time to discuss it on Zoom over 24 hours later. This kills productivity, it delays solutions, and stifles creativity and the efficiency of operations.
A generation of workers who haven't yet come to understand the importance of these in person experiences will be unable to teach their new colleagues much about the workplace, and we'll forever move towards a virtual experience that isn't delivering a better product.
While remote work certainly has its advantages, it cannot provide the same benefits as in-person communication and collaboration when it comes to building team chemistry and culture.
While veterans may be able to take rest days during practice, rookies must earn their place through hard work and dedication. Ultimately, the most successful teams are those that prioritize in-person interactions and collaboration, even in today's increasingly digital world.
Personally, I believe in a hybrid approach, the 9-5 office dictated workplace is over burdensome and taxing, but we cannot forget the benefits of in person operations either.