Had the pandemic struck 10 years ago how would we have coped? Apple had just launched Facetime in July of 2010, but group Facetime didn’t appear until 2018. Zoom debuted in 2013 but wouldn’t hit its stride until 2015 with 40 million users. This spring that number shot up to 200 million daily meeting participants in March alone. Lacking tools like Zoom or Google Hangouts—with teleconferencing and person-to-person video limited to expensive, corporate enterprise systems—it’s safe to say our economy would have skidded to a halt. Technology enabled people to migrate to working-from-home, distance education, and virtual social relations. And here we are—working remotely and as productive as ever, with many people happy to skip the commute and structure the day as they see fit.
Outside of technology, there may be sociological reasons for the success of the WFH experience. People had forged social bonds, created professional networks, and absorbed the values of office culture in a way that sustained morale and engagement beyond the office walls. In most instances, 100% of staff began to work from home, thus averting conflicts of schedule and different work hours, or issues that arise when a team member works both in the office and from home. And we understood that. “We’re all in it together.”
Beyond the ways in which technology supported our shift from office to home, it also allowed us to continue fulfilling our need for socialization and human contact. What was once seen as a cold and feared replacement for true human interaction became the reason we were able to engage in family birthdays and celebrations and to see our loved ones' faces. Gatherings felt a little different, but the candles were blown out, the engagement ring was shown off, and a small bit of comfort was restored through a screen.
The Zoom cocktail hour has become a staple for many people to unwind and catch up after work, this time alone together instead of at the local bar. Although different, we’ve been able to feel some familiar comfort and participate in each other’s lives.
We were all searching for some form of normal over the past year and technology provided this link.