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Face Time not FaceTime: do we need to ‘Check the Tech’​?


Ever the optimist, I’ve tried to look on the bright side of strife as much as possible recently. It’s not always easy, but the question I keep coming back to is where we would be if this pandemic had happened, say, 20 years ago? Or even 10?

Purely in the context of what technology makes possible, we’re lucky this has happened when it has. Without today’s technology I dare say we’d either all still have to be commuting on packed trains and politely passing Covid along to the next colleague in the office each week, or we’d literally all be sitting at home doing nothing and with probably no company to return to anyway.

Don’t take the Tech’s name in vain…

Technology – in both blatant and imperceptible ways – has essentially been driving our markets and personal lives for many years. However, in these WFH/home-schooling/keep-your-distance times tech is undoubtedly king. Nay, a god. I’m not a religious man but today’s technological wonders (much of it completely free) are in many ways a saviour.

Overstating things a tad? A wee bit hyperbolic? Maybe not….

How would we hold meetings and see the faces of our colleagues or clients without Teams? how could we have catch-up discussions with our kids’ teachers without Zoom? who wants to even think about the phone bill we’d rack up on those international calls without WhatsApp? and, most crucially, how would our team have managed to quickly share answers during the virtual Christmas party music quiz without Messenger?

Even away from work or school, a quick look at the numbers of subscribers Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ have all picked up in the last 9 months tells its own story. Perhaps a multi-million Dollar budget 10 episode story? Maybe not.

So, in the context of what technology makes possible it’s all rosy and great and amazing right? With ever smaller, lighter and more capable laptops, WiFi availability and video technology it’s only right that we work independent of location and people right? It’s evolution. It’s the logical next step. The new normal, right?  Well, sort of…

Sharing ideas

Big Tech themselves offer some interesting views on this; Microsoft and Twitter are apparently going gung-ho on permanent home working while the leaderships of Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are all looking at a long-term hybrid home-office options. Funnily enough, Netflix’s own CEO Reed Hastings called remote working ‘a pure negative’.

The ‘in the moment’ individual view is different; like many others my wife and I have definitely benefited from the greater flexibility, work-life-balance and the lack of stress and money that commuting brings with it. However, even I don’t think it’s the long-term solution.

Putting my company hat on, there is clearly a long-term problem around identifying with corporate culture and brand – particularly newer recruits, the sharing of ideas, overall productivity and general cross-team collaboration.

Face Time not FaceTime

The flexibility and mobility is great, but we might just be in danger of forgetting that we are, indeed, humans. We need interactions and communications with other humans. No, not just via Teams calls or Zoom chats or WhatsApp groups or Instagram – but actual, real face-to-face moments. The technology allows us to get on with things in the temporary absence of all that, but it doesn’t replace it.

The end-goal, the ultimate ‘win’ still needs to be getting back to actually seeing each other and working together (without a laptop screen or phone in the way).

- by Tariq Siraj

Posted by: Beament Leslie Thomas