Zoom Video Communications first launched in 2011, but many people hadn’t even heard of it before 2020. Now, the CEO of the company is one of the world’s 100 richest people, thanks to the surging popularity of the platform.
It’s not just Zoom that has changed the face of culture and society – it’s a variety of different video platforms. The COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to change the way we communicate. Video conferencing and calls have made it easy to connect with loved ones, friends, and colleagues across the world safely and effectively.
Now that vaccine rollouts are attempting to halt the progression of this virus and get things back to normal, will everything change again? It’s unlikely that “normal” will look like it once did. Zoom and other platforms have impacted our culture too much, and many people are choosing to stick with them.
So, exactly how have these video conferencing apps changed society?
What does the future hold for Zoom and its competitors?
A Digital Workplace
Remote working was on the rise even before the pandemic hit. Globally, 55% of businesses offered some capacity for remote work. But, COVID-19 caused many workers to immediately start working from home to stay safe. Many employers and employees alike have seen the benefits of remote working, including:
- More flexibility
- Higher productivity
- A better work-life balance
Zoom and other video platforms have become crucial for remote workers. Zoom conferencing provides an easy way to stay connected with co-workers, your employer, and even clients. You can connect with anyone across the globe, so even if there are workers in different parts of the country, you can “get together” to get the job done over a Zoom meeting.
Not only can Zoom help existing employees, but it’s also become a great way for employers to work through the hiring process. Because more jobs are becoming remote, businesses can consider hiring employees from anywhere. For employers, that widens the talent pool. For potential employees, it can make you more comfortable being at home if you have to go through the interview process and answer tough questions.
Staying Connected to Family and Friends
While millions of employees across the country use video conferencing for work, it’s also become the norm for staying connected to loved ones. Since the pandemic began, people have actually gotten quite creative with their uses for the platform, including using it for:
- Birthday parties
- Movie nights
It’s a simple matter of downloading the app, scheduling a “meeting”, and inviting others to join at the selected time. Zoom and other platforms like it are user-friendly, so people of all ages have started using it to stay connected with the people they care about. In 2020, Zoom saw 485 million downloads of its mobile app. While many of those people use it for work, many more just wanted a way to get in touch with friends and family in a safe way.
Now that people are starting to gather in person again, you might think Zoom’s popularity would waver. But, it’s become too much of a cultural norm to “go away”. One of the nice things about it is that it allows people to “get together” no matter where they are. Many families live spread out across the country – or even the globe. You can connect with old college friends who live in a different state or grown children who live in a different country. It’s redefined the way people spend time together, warding off feelings of isolation and loneliness, even when you have to be alone physically.
The Potential Drawbacks
There’s no denying that Zoom has made many positive contributions to our society during a time when everything has felt so uncertain. But, it’s also come with a few drawbacks, too. One new term that has come into play is “Zoom fatigue”.
At the height of the pandemic when people were working from home, kids were going to school online, and people were trying to stay connected with family and friends, it felt for many that Zoom was on their screen all day. Zoom fatigue comes from staring at a screen all day, going to meeting after meeting, and sometimes not feeling a “real” connection to people on the other side of the screen.
If you’re still working from home and struggle with Zoom fatigue or excess stress, you can try things like:
- Taking more breaks during the day
- Socializing with people in person
- Practising mindfulness
- Developing a daily routine
- Getting plenty of sleep
Zoom can’t replace face-to-face interaction, which can be a “con” for some. But, there’s no denying it has provided a shining light for those who would otherwise be disconnected from loved ones, and those who have had to work remotely for over a year. It’s clear that the platform and others like it are here to stay, and will continue to be important communication tools in the workplace and beyond.
Watch this space for updates in the Opinion category on Running Wolf’s Rant.