Working apart together

Working apart together

We have all been spending a lot more time in web based meetings,  and much already has been written about this.

I’ve been saying that it is easy and productive, providing one or two adjustments are made and that it is well set up. For me, this remains true.

I have noticed however that I am much more tired, which I have been putting down to a different way of concentrating, something about the blue light of screens, and the human to human ‘energetic’ connection being affected by not being in the same space.

I came across a piece titled ‘the absence of presence’ which explains this last point perfectly.

Gianpiero Petriglieri is associate professor of organisational behaviour at INSEAD business school. The key paragraph is here;

“I spoke to an old therapist friend today, and finally understood why everyone’s so exhausted after the video calls. It’s the plausible deniability of each others absence. Our minds tricked into the idea of being together when our bodies feel we are not. Dissonance is exhausting.

It’s easier being in each other’s presence, or in each others absence, than in the constant presence of each other’s absence.

Our bodies process so much context, so much information, in encounters, that meeting in video is being a weird kind of blindfolded. We sense too little and can’t imagine enough. That single deprivation requires a lot of conscious effort.” (

I love it when I discover something this insightful, the insight here being an acknowledgement of what we miss when we are not physically with each other, and how much harder we have to work to remain present.

Maybe we could be grateful for this effort with those we are meeting with, and cut some slack if concentration visibly wanes. 

And for all us working apart together it is important to use time in and between meetings wisely, and to actively recharge and replenish.





Leave a Reply