June 23, 2020

MIT CTL Director Prof. Yossi Sheffi reflects on one major difficulty of virtual communication in this moment:

COVID-19’s lockdowns have required people to replace much of the in-person communication they conducted at work — as well as with customers and suppliers — with virtual meetings on platforms such as Zoom, Teams, and Hangout. When the coronavirus crisis subsides, will people return to physical meeting places or cling to the virtual equivalents they have become familiar with?

The dilemma is especially acute when thinking about meetings with faraway suppliers and customers. In such cases, the pressure to avoid expensive trips and time away from families may reduce the frequency of face-to-face meetings.

We don’t know for sure what the outcome of these deliberations will be. However, one thing is certain: in-person meetings will still be a vital part of doing business because they engender trust. This commodity is critically important to the health of any enterprise.