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With the world still coming to grips with the wide-ranging changes that Covid-19 has forced on both our professional and social lives, there has been a subsequent rise in the popularity of video-based communications. The initial rapid transition between physical workstations and home offices meant millions of students, professionals, and businesses were forced to find an acceptable medium by which to replace face-to-face contact.

Technology giants such as Microsoft and Google joined relative newcomer Zoom as the top global video-conferencing providers, offering modern online services that effectively replaced the traditional analogue interactions that defined daily life. However, as certain countries begin to end their confinements and relax social-distancing rules, the use of video-conferencing has remained constant – could this be a sign of things to come?

Challenging the Status Quo

While the chaos caused by the pandemic ensured that many needed to become familiar with technology and a shift towards online interaction, it also highlighted how video-conferencing can help bridge isolation and improve access to certain services while improving quality of life. From doctors’ visits to work meetings or large-scale social events, the ease of access and use of online platforms has promoted inclusion and provided a new spin on social interaction. Despite a healthy amount of fatigue facing users of video-conferencing, there has been a certain recognition that these methods of communication are providing an essential service to a large global user base.

Companies and governments alike have recognized how a shift to an online presence could help all parties involved in terms of efficiency, accessibility of services, and reducing costs. Consumer habits have changed too, with lockdowns and stay at home orders leading to higher online sales, and while many businesses will definitely remain in their brick and mortar forms, certain retailers are rethinking their models. This societal shift hasn’t gone unnoticed by platform providers either, with companies like Zoom making adjustments to ensure it can be both a platform for social interaction and work. In a world where restrictions and closures still dictate social interactions, the need for escapism and face-to-face contact will rise – and as it currently stands, video-conferencing has already filled that need.

Uncertainty continues to define much of today’s economic projections across nations and industries, as governments and businesses alike are unsure of what the future will bring. One certainty, however, is that some form of social distancing will be in place throughout the world and that video-conferencing and working from home will become the new normal for a vast majority of people. Video-conferencing is challenging the status quo, and while it may not change it fundamentally, it is certainly having a major impact on our everyday lives.

Future of Uncertainty

While announcing the latest round of easing of lockdown measures across the United Kingdom, Health Secretary Matt Hancock illustrated the issues the government faces:

“We are going step-by-step, making things easier for people, helping people to see more of each other, allowing more social contact, more social interaction, and we will be setting all that out. But it’s very important that we don’t lose our vice-like grip on the disease. We have got to keep it on the floor where we have got it and so we have got to keep making those trade-offs.”

These trade-offs, however, are still defining how the world is operating. Major academic institutions have announced their intentions to blend e-learning and face-to-face teaching this upcoming academic year, while others like Cambridge have declared no in-person classes until September 2021. Where possible, some companies are also opting to keep their workforce at home and governments are still deciding what restrictions to put in place for international travel.

It remains to be seen how the current pandemic will continue to impact interactions within our societies and whether the trends we are seeing now will indeed become more pronounced, but external shocks have often been catalysts for change and the issues that have so far defined 2020 have already left a lasting mark on how we interact as a society.

Videoconferencing has had a profound effect on how we work, socialize, and do day-to-day tasks. It has changed how businesses function and altered how governments operate. Videoconferencing has helped keep the world together while social distancing ensured that it wasn’t possible – and in a world that is unable to predict how long social distancing will continue for, videoconferencing promises to play a prominent role in society.

Interested in running your own virtual events? Join our free live workshop on Wednesday.

 

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