What’s essential and where can we make changes? Where are we forced to experiment and try new things? What will the world look like after we’ve been forced to rethink how we do things (work, shop, exercise, educate, collaborate, etc.)?
Most obviously, people have been talking about remote work and video calls for decades, but now a huge number of ‘quick coffees’ and ‘team stand-ups’ have been displaced onto video almost overnight. Zoom has gone from 10m to 200m daily users, and Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams combined probably now have more call volume than the entire US mobile network*. How much of that will go back to cafés and meeting rooms? And are you really ‘just as productive’ at home?
Well, it depends what you’re trying to do. if the job is ‘forming a human connection’ or ‘empathy’, then a video call might not be the right approach, and we may go back to coffee. If the job is to exchange information or update a project status, then video might be fine. But you could also ask whether it needs to be a call either - is that really the job you’re trying to do? Sometimes an in-person meeting is a human connection and video might or might not convey that well, but sometimes video is skeuomorphism and both calls and meetings are a way to use unstructured data to transmit structure. So, should the meeting go to a call, or should it go from synchronous to asynchronous (i.e. Slack, Teams, or even email), or should it go to some more structured data form? How many processes in how many industries convert from in-person meetings and phone calls to Zoom, and how many convert to something like Rigup or Honor, or Figma or Frame.io - to tools, structure and workflow? How much clerical work gets automated into structure, and how much time does that create for those in-person meetings where the actual in-person meeting is the point?
…Again, we’re having a massive forced experiment and we ask what will stick, and again, some of the answer lies in what ‘job’ you were really trying to do. Instead of asking ‘ did that have to be a physical meeting?’ we ask ‘did you have to go to a physical shop?’