Pleased to e-meet you

Jean-Claude Elias (Photo: JNews)
It is understood that the global trend towards digitizing everything that can be digitised, and moving it in the cloud, started well before the coronavirus was upon us. However, the current pandemic has boosted the trend in an extraordinary manner. The scale of the change is unseen before. Even by the otherwise spectacular progress and innovation standards and patterns that the world of high-tech in general and the internet in particular, have made us accustomed to, this is mind-blowing.اضافة اعلان

Yet, the most significant impact of the change may not be just technological.

The revolution — for indeed it is nothing short of a revolution — has many faces. From soaring sales of laptops and other tools that you need to meet and to work remotely, to learning new ways and new software applications (or apps, to sound trendy), people from all walks of life and ages are trying to follow up and to adapt to the situation the best they can.

At first glance working remotely is not difficult per se. The aforementioned tools, including a fast network connection, quality microphones, speakers, cameras, and headphones, are widely available and relatively affordable. What is not obvious, on the other hand, is the way to deal with the other side in the most efficient manner, to get results as if you were meeting in person, to communicate nicely, smoothly, and properly.

If checking your bank balance online or paying your utility bills through eFawateercom, for instance, is simple and straightforward, then attending a class for young students, discussing a business plan, or solving delicate issues and conflicts in a virtual environment, is another game, altogether. We were just not made for that.

There are various levels of difficulty and complexity, of course. If you are meeting remotely with someone you already know well and have met in person before, things may be easier. But if you are establishing contact with your correspondent for the first time on Zoom, Teams, Skype, Webex, or any similar platform, understanding the other party well and getting a good feel of the situation is not as simple as doing it in real life. Figures are here to confirm the trend towards using these platforms: On the Nasdaq, Zoom share went from $120 in March 2020 to $440 this March.

From the moment they are speaking into a microphone, with a camera pointed at them, most people do not act naturally. The tone of voice, the body language, even the language itself, they are altered, to various degrees, and most often in a rather negative way. At the same time, some might feel more comfortable participating in a discussion “hiding” this way behind a microphone and a camera, behind a virtual curtain.

Just like there was question of a netiquette in the early days of the world wide web, new ways and protocols are emerging for virtual learning, e-meeting and e-working. It is now common, for example, when connecting with a person for the very first time to say: “pleased to e-meet you”. One year ago, it was a novelty. It is not anymore.

One year ago, and before, we were all too happy to have these beautiful online applications that would make us save time and transportation cost by “doing it” online instead of going there in person. Now it is just too much, it is tantamount to an overdose. There is obvious imbalance between using the cloud to be more efficient and not being able to meet with people for real, in the flesh, when we really need to, when it matters.

Of course, the population is somewhat getting used to the new modus vivendi; besides there is little choice at this point in time. The news about the coronavirus is everywhere and is affecting almost every activity. It is estimated that more than 80 percent of all written content generated today refer, directly or indirectly, to the coronavirus. This article is no exception!

Performing a search on the web returns numerous articles about how to make the best out of virtual meetings or web conferences, and they often provide advice, tips, and recommendations. They all are valid and can be useful. They can help to alleviate the pain. Let us just hope that we will be able to keep the word “pleased” alongside “to e-meet you” for a little longer.