By Julian Demetriadi, PhD FIH MHOSPA, Co-Director, CommunicationsPoint
Before the Covid-19 crisis, video conferencing, webinars, and meetings were already becoming part of our business lives. In the current lockdown situation, without the current possibility of the most effective form of communication – face-to-face – they are now a vital component in communicating with one another, not just in the commercial world, but also domestically.
These technologies help us to ‘stay safe’ while preserving a semblance of normality during self-isolation. Everything from book clubs and yoga classes is being delivered through media such as Zoom; schools and universities are set this summer term to deliver virtual lessons, lectures, and tutorials to their pupils; and even institutions like the loathe-to-change Church of England have had to embrace live-streaming technologies. Clergy successfully broadcast Easter daily reflections and services to their congregations from their homes. I even have friends who now hold virtual lunch and dinner parties to keep in touch with friends and family!
Suddenly these new forms of IT communications are well and truly embedded in our every-day lives. Once the Covid-19 all-clear is eventually sounded (and I’m afraid we could be talking 12 months plus until we get a vaccine), we may all rush to see our friends and family, but I wonder if the need for face-to-face communication will go back to being such a priority for office-based businesses. I have a stock-broker cousin who works in the City, who now works perfectly effectively from home by joining three online meetings a day, keeping him abreast of latest market developments, his team and clients. Yes, there will never be a substitute for face-to-face communication, but working from home, with perhaps one regular weekly visit to the office, can now become more the norm.
Office-based businesses surviving the enforced lockdown will need to operate as economically as possible if they are to recover quickly. Home-based staff will save employers everything from office space and business rates, to travel expenses.
This in turn will be good for the environment, already set to be at the top of world leaders’ agendas in the years ahead. It has been a major beneficiary of the current Covid-19 crisis, which has spectacularly reduced the population’s carbon output. Skies are clearer and brighter with the absence of planes, the air cleaner with almost no vehicles on the road.
With the collapse of airline businesses, airline travel post Covid-19 is set to become significantly more expensive and uneconomic. International firms will not be able to afford the level of business travel they undertook in the past. Given today’s rapidly developing technology, this shouldn’t present a problem. My co-director at CommunicationsPoint, Catherine Demetriadi, already had international clients in regular contact through Skype, Zoom and GoToMeeting conference calls and chats. She doesn’t have to jump on a plane to see clients, as her charity consultancy work can all be done extremely effectively online.
The present lockdown should not be wasted. Now is the perfect time for businesses to plan for, and operate in, a very different world, using state-of-the art communications technology.
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