I n 1918 during the incredibly destructive ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic (it didn’t even originate in Spain), reaching people was hard. Public information would be communicated via radio or print and only the wealthy would hear the news first.
Skip forward an ironic 100 years and we find ourselves in an echo of that time, a fraction of that destruction – though now we can isolate – because we all heard the news.
The world created over time in science fiction has quickly become reality. We’ve had the means to communicate remotely for years – most notably via Skype back in the day, but as a nation, a world, we have never had the absolute fundamental need.
Now the need is here, and our saviour is an app called Zoom.
The company was founded by an entrepreneur who had already started a business video comms software called WebEx – you may have heard of it – it’s pretty big.
He wasn’t satisfied that WebEx was working the way he envisaged so he left and set up Zoom. It grew.
Jump to January 2020, when the first cases of Covid-19 were discovered in the west. Travel plans were suddenly in question and the airline industry was noticing a dip.
February, March. It wasn’t China’s problem anymore.
Forced remote working swept across the business community creating a new culture, of a scale never thought possible in such a short time-span.
All forms of social gatherings, sport, conferences, gigs, cancelled.
People, both employees and the self employed, by default, are discovering new practices and a new daily structure.
One which involves no direct personal contact, but still personal contact through a screen.
VR is finally having its day in the sun while people discover they can go to a conference without the travel costs, the flights, the awkward networking moments. They can always switch off.
Business has changed, overnight. Regardless of the economic fall-out from the pandemic, it has already shifted. Company financial directors will consider whether they really need that office, to pay those sky-high business rates. What if we could pay our employees to work from home? Time share the office with other companies.
It’s a sea change and it’s happening.
The new normal is strangely not that strange. Some of us have been doing it for a while and some of us haven’t.
Now we’re all the same – at least for a few months.
But when all this is over and the last cases have been identified, isolated, vaccinated, in 2021 – we can be sure everything will in some way be different and we’ll never, ever be quite the same ever again.