Elizabeth Keating, a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin, has been studying human interactions via technology since the late 1990s. She wrote a book about it in 2016. It was based on her researching an engineering team between 2008 and 2011 and again in 2016-'17. The firm had gone to a majority dispersed remote work environment in 2008. Drawing from that experience and sociologist Erving Goffman's work in the 1960s, Keating explains how missing the subtleties of non-verbal communication make virtual meetings difficult. We utilize cues of body language to help us to decide what to do or say next. We rely on visual cues for understanding, consensus building and trust building. We also observe how others are observing us and can't always see that when their gaze is directed at a screen and not the person talking or the person next to them. Another anthropologist, Ray Birdwhistell, estimated that “facial expression, gestures, posture and gait and visible arm and other body movements” make up 65–70% of the social meaning of a conversation. Much of this is lost over a screen.

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