Every day our world is more digital, more remote (I’ll share my review of Jason Fried’s book Remote soon), and more isolated from in person interaction. And that is nothing bad. In fact I think it is remarkable. But, and this one is huge so don’t miss it, nothing replaces face to face. I work about 200 of my 225 work days in a year remotely, away from my co-workers. I also serve in a volunteer organization where the leaders are very close. Just like my co-workers we all live in different cities. When we do get together it is a rich and treasured time. (You can read a case study United Airlines did on our unique company model for thriving using a remote workplace model.)
When I have a package being delivered to my house, I look forward to meeting the one who delivers it. For our household, they are always bearers of great things: cool new leather, telescope and science gadgets, books from friends, updated passports or visas, and a myriad of technology.
A few years ago I noticed a significant change in our deliveries. UPS stopped waiting for me to open the door. I would hear my doorbell ring and by the time I opened the door the delivery person was already driving off, leaving only that distinct diesel engine sound as evidence of who delivered it. Often the packages they leave are of significant value. Honestly it feels weird. FedEx on the other hand has never rang and run. Maybe this is a convenience thing. But does it really warrant the sacrifice of customer interaction?
Now with that I do want to add a really cool story about UPS. My sister and brother in law run their businesses from a pretty remote area in the mountains. They started a tradition many years ago with their UPS man. My brother in law and their man in brown both love chess. So every delivery also marks a new turn on a physical chess board. The driver takes a second to make a move on the dedicated chess board sitting next to the door. Some of the games will take 4 to 6 weeks to finish. Over the years it has resulted in a great friendship. I hear the UPS delivery man is in a winning streak of “epic proportions”. Not surprisingly, most of their business is now with UPS, where it used to be with FedEx.
In your business, your family and most of all your friendships, never forfeit human touch, eye contact and face time over convenience. Remote work is incredible and freeing. Facebook can be a precious way for friends and family separated by miles to stay in touch. We can easily connect with thousands more today with a click of update, tweet, plus or upload. But, if you can, choose to connect with your eyes, a handshake and a smile. It makes such a difference.
I didn’t write a Christmas post this year. Mainly I’ve realized I may never top my 2010 one. So with that I hope you have an incredible 2014. 2013 was one of the best years of my life for so many reasons. One of them was connecting with you, my reader. Thanks so much.