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Artificial Human Relationships

Human relationships have changed, exponentially in recent years. Whilst face-to-face communication has traditionally been viewed as the most effective and efficient way to satisfy human needs for social connectedness (Grieve, 2013), technology platforms have increasingly been used to enhance and satisfy the same connectedness needs. But is there a downside?  

Many of us used video software to socialise during the pandemic, connecting with people on a social level. We were using tools previously reserved mostly for workplaces.

But how many people still use video software to connect socially?

In 2021, the global video market was worth $6.28bn, and is expected to rise to c $20bn by 2030, but data suggests this is mainly in the workplace. 86% of companies are now using video conferencing during recruitment. The pandemic delivered a 500% increase in video software usage.

In 2023, 90% of employees say that video conferencing helps efficiency, completing tasks faster and creating cost savings (Trust Radius, 2023). Many people rate video conferencing as effective as face-to-face meetings, but is this really the case?

Human relationships – where two or more people are connected. 

Relationships create a sense of belongingness, which is one of the fundamental needs of any human being. In 1903, a leading Psychologist, Abraham Maslow was born who designed the highly acclaimed pyramid of needs shown below. This is critical to human evolution as we are not designed to survive alone. Think about the hunters and the gatherers. How many successful businesses do you know which have only one person in them?

So what does this mean for the future?

Psychologists have long advocated the importance of human-to-human connections. These connections are formed when people are seen, understood and valued. A lack of these connections can lead to poor health and well-being. Humans need to belong, and no doubt anyone reading this is aware of FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. So how do we avoid this in the workplace and build high-quality artificial human relationships going forward?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do artificial human relationships, especially those formed through technology platforms, measure up against face-to-face relationships in fulfilling the fundamental human needs for social connectedness and belongingness?

Artificial human relationships, particularly those facilitated through technology platforms, may offer convenience and accessibility, but they often lack the depth and authenticity of face-to-face interactions. While they can help individuals connect across distances, they may not fully satisfy the need for genuine social connectedness and belongingness that face-to-face relationships provide through nuances like body language, tone of voice, and shared physical experiences.

What specific challenges or disadvantages might arise from relying on technology to augment social connectedness within the workplace?

Relying solely on technology to enhance social connectedness in the workplace can present several challenges. One drawback is the potential for miscommunication or misunderstanding, as digital interactions lack the richness and immediacy of face-to-face communication. Additionally, excessive reliance on technology may lead to feelings of isolation or detachment among employees, as virtual interactions may not fully replicate the sense of community and camaraderie fostered by in-person connections.

Striking a balance

In what ways can organisations navigate and strike a balance between face-to-face interactions and online relationships among employees, to foster a positive and conducive work environment?

To effectively manage and balance face-to-face and online relationships among employees, organizations can adopt a multifaceted approach. This may involve incorporating a mix of in-person and virtual communication channels to accommodate diverse preferences and needs. Encouraging regular team meetings, both physical and virtual, can foster collaboration and strengthen interpersonal bonds. Additionally, providing opportunities for face-to-face interactions, such as team-building activities or social events, can help reinforce a sense of belonging and camaraderie. Moreover, promoting open communication and transparency, regardless of the medium, can facilitate meaningful connections and contribute to a positive and productive work environment.

Adapted from an article originally published LinkedIn, December 21st, 2024.

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