Will digital devices ever replace face-to-face communication?

With most of the working world now possessing a smartphone, and more organisations offering bring-your-own-device programs, people would be forgiven for thinking that talking to someone face-to-face will soon be consigned to the history books. 

Technology can enable communication, rather than inhibit it.

However, although text messaging has eliminated the need to physically speak to someone, some occasions demand a more involved conversation. While some people may see technology as something that prevents people from talking face-to-face, it can also be the opposite.

It's an important trend for recruitment consultants to keep on top of, with video interviews over services like Skype becoming more common. Are these communication methods effective?

Balancing digital and physical communication

There are a range of advantages and disadvantages to both physical and digital communication. Organisations don't have to feel like they need to focus on just one option, however, as an effective communication strategy involves making the most of all opportunities. 

This is particularly true when it comes to communicating with millennials. While this generation is associated with the rapid evolution of digital devices in recent years, a 2015 survey found this doesn't mean they don't value more traditional forms as well. 

In fact, PR firm Weber Shandwick found that millennials actually value face-to-face communication more than their older colleagues when it comes to networking opportunities. According to the survey, more than a third (34 per cent) of this generation find value in meeting with colleagues outside of work hours. In comparison, just 15 per cent of baby boomers feel the same. 

Millennials also place more importance on their digital reputations as well. Weber Shandwick found that 21 per cent of these people feel that both their physical reputations and social media presence are equally as important, more than any other group.

Chief Reputation Strategist at the firm Leslie Gaines-Ross noted this trend is a reflection of both current work trends and millennials' upbringing. 

"In today's digital world, it's nearly impossible to keep your work and personal lives completely separate," he explained. "Millennials give greater weight than other generations to their digital and in-person reputations, which shows the influence of having grown up digital."

Digital communication is changing the workplace. Digital communication is changing the workplace.

How digital is changing face-to-face communication

Although Gartner reported that wearable sales are set to grow by almost 20 per cent this year, there's another new technology development that could steal a fair amount of this consumer excitement. Virtual reality is no longer a fantasy, and the recently announced HTC Vive shows that these gadgets could have a range of different applications. 

For example, the Vive Phone Services application means people can answer and conduct phone calls in VR. Could this trend change the way job interviews are conducted? Only time will tell.