Students in the design world learn about an interesting effect described as “1 + 1 = 3.” This means that when two objects are placed close together, the space in between them creates a visible interaction, almost like a third object. You are perceiving information that wouldn’t be there without the proximity.
I’ve always thought about 1 +1 = 3 in another context, which emphasizes the importance of face time. Right now, with many working from home, maybe it’s more like 1 + 1 = 2. Those that are working apart may be missing many of the candid things that come up at the coffee pot or the lunch table. Chance meetings in the hallway. The way we keep each other focused and engaged in an office setting. Subtleties that can’t be relayed on the phone, Zoom, Facetime or whatever virtual tool you’re using to communicate these days. Right now, all these good things are lost.
When we talk about moving past this virus, it’s my hope that the adjustments we’ve made the the work environment aren’t permanent. It’s my fear that if the space between us grows too wide, we’ll forever lose the edge that comes from being together.