Shout! | Covid-19 | 01. Shifting The Boundaries

Firetree Visual Media Cover-19 Series | Week 01 | ‘Shifting The Boundaries’

 

Health photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Wow, what a volcano of a month. Words fail me to describe the seismic shift businesses across the globe have experienced overnight to normal working practices because of Covid-19. This has been ‘Week One’ for my business, on lockdown to reduce the spread of the virus.

Throughout the duration of this period, I am writing a weekly blog on the shift in communication the virus has imposed on our communities. I would like to say from the outset, that these blogs do not intend to disrespect the cost and damage the virus has caused both in terms of lives and business, I think there is enough focus in the press and social media on these areas. I hope these blogs are a little relief from the damage and impact discourse that is pervading our lives during the crisis.  I’m going to be looking instead at how the business and social communication landscape has changed, i’ll be looking at emergent technologies, and will speculate on the shape of our future world. If we pause for a moment and focus our thoughts not on the monumental damage this virus is having on the economy, businesses and lives but on the creation of new communication systems, and business networks, we may find we are better prepared for the new ‘normal’.

Seismic Shift

Background photo created by jcomp – www.freepik.com

Humans are social and we use a wide range of processes to communicate. Non-verbal, Written, Oral, and Interpersonal communication. (I have explained the different forms of communication in a previous blog, you can read this here) Businesses have built all their operations on a mix of these methods to suit their needs.

Technology and innovation changes at an incredible speed.  Although technology maybe advancing, it takes businesses a while to adapt and modify. Updating or learning new technology involves training and time, if systems work well, businesses are unlikely to change how they work.  New methods of communication and technologies are adopted for a range of reasons, when there is market demand for example, an organisational demand, or demand for faster communication.  Covid-19 has overnight forced business to re-think their communication strategies. The search for new communication technology has been initiated by a global social shift, from working in a social environment to a place of isolation.

Let’s consider this for a second. Technology has advanced over the last few decades to enable us to communicate with new tools like FaceTime, Zoom, Livestream, Voice Technology, VR, and this has been embraced to a certain extent both in the business environment and in our homes. However the motivation behind the adoption of these technologies has, until recently, been simply that it works better, faster or looks better than traditional methods. It has never been that we will fail completely to communicate without it.

This is a seismic shift in communication. It has overnight forced the hand of our entire population to re-think how we communicate.

Barriers and Boundaries

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Over the last 100 years businesses have evolved to communicate using a wide range of relatively new technologies to connect with clients and colleagues locally and across the globe. Consider the advances made in that time frame: the first conference call was made in 1956, first e.mail in 1971, the first YouTube video in 2005, the ability for businesses to communicate instantly with individuals and large groups of people, across the globe without interpersonal contact has been here for a while.  

The majority of businesses would struggle to function at all without interpersonal communication in some form for any sustained length of time and of course many businesses rely on face-to-face contact, a hairdresser for example or a dentist. Although communication technologies to communicate without interpersonal communication have been around for a long time, businesses don’t necessarily need to use them. Even if their business would benefit.  During these last two weeks, there has been a surge in businesses learning conferencing technology to continue to connect to their clients, fitness instructors rushing to learn how to remain in business using remote technologies, estate agents wanting to understand VR to showcase properties without physical contact, teachers signing up to YouTube to teach on-line classes, the list is endless. We have a global community of businesses suddenly delving into technology to bypass face-to-face communication.

So what of the significance of this shift? There is of course the possibility that when the dust settles we return to ‘normal’ but will we? Educators across the world are realising the potential of a global reach as opposed to a local reach, business networks will realise the time saving benefits of conference calling instead of face-to-face meetings. While one of our methods of communication has been removed by Covid-19 the boundaries of communication have expanded and ‘normal’ business methods of communications have been broadened. We are currently in chaos, struggling to deal with the immediate fall-out from the Covid-19  shut down; worrying about finances, the impact to business and our immediate survival, what if we focus on the benefits this shift in communication could have on the business landscape? What changes will this shift bring to businesses once we return to face-to-face communication? Will we return to the same communication systems as before? Will we work within the same location boundaries?

“when one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us”

Alexander Graham Bell

Over the next few weeks I will be discussing some of the technologies already available to communicate without interpersonal contact, the impact on business structures, a reflection on how different the business landscape will be and a look at some futuristic concepts, a ‘staff-less’ hotel for example or the remote Estate Agency!  And  let’s look at the the wider impact on labour force. How will franchises work if territorial boundaries are breached by new methods of communication? Consider the impact on-line retail has had on high street retail, how will the adoption of new communication technologies impact organisational frameworks.

Businesses across the globe have jumped head first into remote working. I am not sure all business will operate in the same way again.

Next week let’s have a look at video conferencing. It’s easy to see how this method of communication has been instrumental in enabling business to continue to meet with clients and consumers. I will look at how it is being adopted during the time of crisis from Zoom weddings to remote networking. I’ll look at the technologies available and some tips as to how to use them and will reflect on how these conferencing technologies may be used in the future, now we have found a use for them.

I hope you found that interesting. I hope you remain safe and well during this difficult and stressful time. If you are interested in pondering the themes of communication and technology with me, please subscribe in the footer area below.

If you want to think about future video/photography/business work with Firetree, please also get in touch.

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Thanks for reading. If you enjoy my blogs please feedback. If you would like to contribute to this discussion please do get in touch. All ideas are welcome!

Kyra.