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Nothing beats face to face communication – a word from RMI’s CEO

Jakkie Olivier 1

New technology has made communication so much easier. We’ve all learnt to manage virtual meetings and even virtual AGM’s, but nothing really beats face-to-face interaction.

The whole world has been bombarded and challenged during recent times with new technology on a daily basis in order to facilitate the changes everyone has been forced to make. It definitely has had an impact on culture and like everything brings quantifiable risks to a business, with research showing an immediate impact on employees’ sense of belonging and overall employee engagement. Even if for many employees, the remote work option or remote teams get-togethers may be preferred, there is no doubt that research shows a break down in critical relationship-building between employees and stakeholders.

Employees who work virtually are definitely more disconnected from core cultural components and this has for many companies necessitated the introduction of a new set of actions to build culture and help reach people in different ways.

I feel that while we have all benefitted from the new and necessary technology, we have also experienced what I term a great loss – the skill of interacting directly with another human being on a personal level. The personal touch and awareness is lost when meetings are all virtual.

In my opinion one-on-one discussions and sharing of information is still the most effective way to communicate. While we all have to accept and embrace the new ways of working, we should not completely ignore the benefits and uses that personal interaction brings when sharing important knowledge with others. Ignoring this means that we are escalating the loss of opportunity to make a difference by simply becoming more involved with another person.

The RMI is a big family that cares for all of its employees, members and stakeholders and unflinchingly supports its slogan of ‘belonging is better business’. During the current unprecedented period we have done our best to keep our employees and membership base engaged and motivated although we have had to cut back on the face-to-face engagements and roadshows we were so accustomed to. Moving forward I believe the workplace of the future will become a hybrid model of remote and face-to-face interaction and communication  

I stress there is nothing more powerful than when our members and stakeholders can engage on a personal level in order to share information, network, learn from each other and collectively find solutions to shape the future of the automotive industry.

Let us not ignore the personal touch, the traditional handshake or hug. Let us encourage ongoing human connection through continuous communication and leadership one-on-ones which promote higher levels of trust, engagement, and productivity.