Andy and Neil have been back, live, in the face-to-face lecture room in the past two weeks. This is where training has to be. Whatever the alternative arguments are, they are wrong. The numbers bear it out. Andy has been teaching the vast majority of our CPI June face-to-face intake and Neil has exposed his varying range of acceptability to our Joint Board Corporate Insolvency students. They asked each attendee how being back in the lecture-room compared with webinar-based learning, and the results were extraordinarily conclusive; "five times better", said the most reticent of respondents. "A hundred times better", determined the most fulminating.
So, face-to-face training is anywhere between five and one hundred times better than the shadow of its web-based equivalent. Further numbers support this fact. Of NTI's 59 Corporate Insolvency JIEB full Study Support Programme students, only three chose to stick with webinars for now, all of them with very good personal reasons for doing so. Of the 61 CPI students who were welcoming Andy back to their bosoms, just four elected to remain virtual, two of them due to Andy's unfortunate use of the word 'bosoms'.
Those who argue that the virtual office is the pretender to the throne of the actual one stand to lose the debate. If not immediately, then eventually. Again, the numbers bear it out. The Office for National Statistics, in its latest weekly assessment of the Coro... blah, blah, blah and its impact on the economy found that the proportion of the UK workforce at their normal place of work rose by 49 per cent in the two weeks to 4 April.
There are very, very good reasons for the arguments against working remotely. The best is also the most simple. Fundamentally, homo sapiens are social beings. We emerged from the primordial soup on planet Earth about a billion years ago and started properly using our opposable thumbs around two million years ago. Since that time we have built up massively complicated social structures, all of them based upon interaction and influence. Human beings are three-dimensional creatures inhabiting a three-dimensional world. However, our eyes can only show us two dimensions and the depths we think we can see are the result of a trick our brains have learned over the millennia. Human brains have perfected this trick and become extremely good at it.
We have learnt to see the unseen, hear the unsaid and pick up minute visual clues that translate into layers of learning about our surrounding environment and the creatures that inhabit it. In early days of burgeoning humanity this enabled us to survive; more latterly it has developed our instincts and intuition to such a level that we can pick up liars and potential mates from a hundred paces. The workplace, bars, buses, restaurants, festivals and foyers are teeming with messages and clues that we pick up unconsciously. We translate it all into usable information instantly, thereby growing our experience of our planet and its inhabitants. Statistically, those who are least good at this spend their time solitarily, staring into screens and not washing very much. This section of society is called 'gamers', but they also respond to 'freaks' and 'weirdos'.
Those who are best at picking up information transmitted subtly by other members of our species tend to be its most successful members. They respond best to flickers of eyelids, a slight look down to the table during a conversation, the hand gestures of the uncertain, even faint smells emitted by those who are lying or hiding something. If you have spent 250,000 generations perfecting this you aren't going to start using an alternative because Zoom have a summer offer.
Daniel Goleman has made a very decent living from making out he invented 'Emotional Intelligence' and its impact on our relationships and society. One of our favourite quotes of Daniel's according to us here in the NTI newsroom is, "Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves the world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large." When we stare into a hole at the top of our laptops and pretend that we are socialising and properly communicating we reduce the size of our world. We become much less effective. We switch off the part of our brains that has learnt to empathise by being with people, sharing in a group, picking up signals and responding to them.
Remote communication is nothing like as effective as its much bigger and more useful larger cousin, face-to-face interaction. The statistics are incredible. When communicating with someone face-to-face you are more than 90 per cent more effective than when talking to them on the phone, or seeing them freeze momentarily on Microsoft Teams. Leaders of businesses may put up, for a while, with remote working and talk about about the effect on our planet, the reductions in emissions, the trust in their workforce, but when the business becomes sluggish and less effective through lack of 'real' human interaction they will find ways to entice us back to a social environment in which we behave as we have been taught over two million years.
All this, and 77 per cent of friendships start in the workplace, as well as 81 per cent of affairs. The pandemic has taught us to be resourceful and to find alternatives to 'real life' whilst we were forced to. Human beings are way too resourceful and creative to lean on poor quality video-conferencing and pretend interaction for too long.
We mean, wouldn't you be far more interested in sitting in front of the person making the above-arguments and challenging them, disagreeing with them and nodding at them, than reading it all on a small life-limiting screen?