Communication Changes Caused by Covid-19
My business associate, Justin Lukacs, dives into our new online environment.
A few months ago, the Covid-19 virus hit the planet and forced a total metamorphosis to the way we operate in our everyday lives. The wealth of technology and scale of globalization we have at our disposal meant that, although confined to our homes, communication was still possible and luckily quite easy. However, the modes of communication and methods of connecting have been changing rapidly. Where certain companies have struggled to find success during the pandemic, others have found opportunity and growth. It is hard to say what changes will be gone once things are “back to normal”, but almost certainly some are here to stay. So, what has changed?
Recently I saw a joke online that basically states that Skype had 20 years to prepare for this exact scenario, and still failed. It was one of those “funny ‘cause it’s true” moments. After all, Skype was the frontrunner in video call communication for the last number of years, almost everyone I know had an account on the platform. It only made sense that in a situation where we were all forced to communicate virtually, Skype would take its seat on the throne as king of video communication…Zoom had other plans. By this time everyone was aware of the issues that constantly popped up during Skype calls, poor connection and video quality, confusing and outdated interfaces. Zoom started to emerge as a worthwhile substitute. One of the big draws to Zoom early on was the number of people it could host in a call, 100 people on the same call was a huge number and allowed the continuation of things like classes and conference calls, that wouldn’t have been possible without such a medium. Universities and organizations alike quickly picked up Zoom to ensure efficient communication while everyone was remote.
There were a few major problems with the infrastructure of Zoom that also quickly started to appear; the cloud-based security code meant that anyone who had access to the Zoom meeting link could also access the meeting itself, and again since the security code was cloud-based, it wasn’t difficult for unintended people to get heir hands on these links. ‘Zoombombing’ became a rapid problem for university classes where people were entering Zoom calls to cause mayhem in one way or another. Pranksters would join the calls just to disrupt classes by either being a general nuisance or, in some cases, exposing themselves on the call to get a reaction. The problem was so widespread and uncontrollable that the entire New York City Board of Education banned the use of Zoom for all their institutions. While this side of the issue was serious, there was an even bigger problem for certain organizations that were holding meetings regarding precious information. The faults in the security of Zoom also allowed people with the appropriate skills to enter and record private meetings, gaining access to information that would otherwise be mostly classified. Most businesses did not have to worry about this happening, but the threat was enough to steer a lot of them away from the platform. Zoom CEO Eric Yuan was quick to respond to the complaints and the company has since made changes to their security systems to keep the favor of the tens of millions of customers they still had. At this point in time there are a plethora of options for video chatting that are prevalent for use by the masses; Facebook, Microsoft, and Google have all made updates to their multiple offerings like Hangouts and WhatsApp in order to compete. Now the choices are more expansive and most of these options have also upped the number of people able to join in the same call.
Other businesses have also found opportunities in isolation, namely the world of health and wellness. With almost all gyms being shut down, people were still looking for a way to get their exercise from home. Online fitness classes have now become the norm for a lot of people that are still looking to be active but don’t have the usual equipment at their disposal. Peloton is the most obvious, with hundreds of classes ranging from their signature cycle/spin workouts to bodyweight and yoga, Peloton saw a large number of people flock to the platform to stay in shape during the quarantine. Peloton and other services like it definitely saw a growth in numbers, but there are now workouts of all kinds on multiple platforms. Instagram even hosts a number of workout classes on Instagram Live and IGTV. Celebrity fitness personnel like Don Saladino and Melissa Wood host fitness classes on their respective Instagram profiles throughout the week that you can tune into for free. In fact, many of the online fitness services out there offer a free trial of their services before committing, meaning there are no excuses to be lazy through the quarantine!
Along with the changes in the landscape to the above mentioned, there are also now more live streams for entertainment than ever before. Most of the concerts and festivals planned for the year have been canceled, this puts both the consumer and the artist at a disadvantage. Artists lose potential revenue through the cancellation of these events and the consumer loses the live experience they were anticipating, so changes needed to be made. Online concerts are hosted consistently throughout the week, with artists performing live on platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and of course television. Some film festivals that were scheduled during quarantine have even been live-streamed, showing that entertainment in all facets will be still be provided to the public, one way or another.
It is hard to say what changes that have been forced upon us are going to stick and leave a lasting impact. There is efficiency to be utilized for businesses of all sorts with increases in online communication. Offices can hold meetings in a more timely manner and remote work may be the new norm for a chunk of the collective. Entertainment mediums now have another option of providing for their consumers. Exercise generally may become more remote. Even in the modern times of 2020, online communication is not perfect, our best options still have drawbacks. However, the opportunities it could afford us if utilized properly moving forward are limitless and exciting. It will no doubt be enthralling to see what offerings are here to stay and how they will evolve in the coming months.