SME workers prefer impersonal communication

Face-to-face communication is being neglected in favour of phone calls and emails among business staff, research finds.

According to a poll by serviced office provider Officebroker.com, 68 per cent of respondents prefer to deal with others indirectly than face-to-face, even if they are based in the same building.

Just under a third (32 per cent ) say they prefer having direct conversations to solve problems, citing speed of response and the ability to discuss a range of issues quickly as the main reason behind the decision.

More than half (52 per cent) find they feel less confident when dealing with people in person having become reliant on using email, phone and Skype as their primary communication methods.

Email is the preferred communication method among workers, with many citing the ability to record conversations for reference as well as attach a wide variety of information, as the logic behind their decision.

Phone communication is still used when an immediate decision, which may become lost in a recipient’s inbox, is required, although most of those polled say they would typically still use email as a first point of contact.

Despite the preference for indirect contact, nearly all (97 per cent) say they believe it important to ‘put a face to an email address’ and agree that this is beneficial for fostering long-term working relationships.

A spokesman from officebroker.com says the results show just how reliant upon technology the average worker has become. He adds, ‘Technological advances have revolutionised the speed at which we are able to communicate and the amount of information we are able to share in a short period – which can only be viewed as a good thing for employees and employers alike.

‘However, what our survey has revealed is that many workers have become so comfortable sending emails all day they have lost the ability to communicate as effectively in person and as such avoid doing so where possible.’

Being asked awkward questions or being cornered into taking on new tasks are two of the main reasons cited as to why many workers preferred to keep their distance from colleagues and clients.

‘Many view the phone as a compromise as they were able to keep their distance from the person they were speaking to but could openly discuss issues and let the conversation flow where required.’

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