These days “far away” really doesn’t mean all that much.
Take my work life for example. While my direct creative team coworkers (writers, art directors, designers, project managers, developers, etc.) are all in close proximity, the folks on my larger team (account service, strategy) are all in a different time zone.
Except not this week. A bunch are here for the next few days because we’re planning and doing a lot of face-to-face meetings. Two more will arrive closer to the end of the week. We always have a lot of fun when we’re all together. We try to have a dinner or at least a happy hour so we can just hang out. And even if we’re just holed up in a meeting room eating cold pizza it’s harder to not treat the time when we’re in the same place as anything but special because it doesn’t happen all of the time.
Of course, most of the time we eliminate the distance through technology. We use all of the modern tools that you’d expect to work together when we’re not in the same place: conference calls, web-based collaboration calls, video chats, email.
The same goes for our clients. Mine are located nowhere near our office. Technology definitely helps us collaborate. Still whenever I can, I like to see them in person.
Facebook lets me “talk” to my friends and family scattered all over the place. So goes my iPhone. And email. On any given night, I could talk to a couple of friends in Canada, check out the latest photos of my twin nieces, ask a vet tech friend a G-related question, and read some blogs. Sometimes, especially on holidays or special occasions, Bruce and I use FaceTime to celebrate with someone far away.
This past weekend, I shared a Facebook post from a friend of mine in Toronto. His son accidentally left his digital camera on the TTC (Toronto’s subway) and he was hoping that through the power of social media (and by a miracle of human kindness), he’d get the camera back. It was picked up by a friend in Toronto who didn’t know the person who originally posted. But she wanted to help. And then it was picked up by her friends…and several media outlets. My friend doesn’t have the camera back, but now one of Toronto newspapers has called and is trying to help. Amazing!
Bruce and I use our electronic tools to keep in touch when we’re on business trips. For us, long distance is definitely nothing new. When we “met” I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bruce lived in Toronto. Now this was pre-email and pre-commercial internet so we had the phone (expensive), plane tickets (expensive but my phone plan earned me air miles), and letters (I liked that part more than Bruce did). While it wasn’t ideal, we made it work. (It definitely led to us figuring out how to be in the same place quicker than we probably would have if we just lived across town from each other.)
The point of tonight’s ramble is that it’s easy to come up with excuses not to communicate. Or you can use what you have to bridge the distance and shorten it.