Venturing into Virtual

Is the virtual world the new normal?

Since being forced into lockdown it seems that the whole world has gone virtual, even more so than usual. As we are no longer able to go out and attend our normal duties or see people face to face, we’ve all had to adapt, turning to the virtual world… and now even when arranging a phone call with someone, the question comes up as to whether it will be a normal call or a video call? Everything seems to be virtual at the moment, so the question is, when lockdown is over – will the Virtual world become the new normal?

I decided to take a look at some areas of the virtual world, what the pros and cons are and whether they are likely to continue after lockdown… it will be interesting to hear your thoughts and whether you agree?

1. Virtual workplace

For a long time, there has been this debate of flexible working, steering from the traditional 9-5 with the option of being able to work anywhere around the world, well now, thanks to COVID-19, companies have found themselves forced into this ‘flexible working’ category as employees set up their own workplace ‘virtually’ from home.

The pro’s of this are that it proves that people can work anywhere, as long as they have the necessary equipment to get the job done and thanks to modern technologies, companies are now able to have virtual meetings to stay in touch with their employees. As long as you don’t accidentally turn yourself into a potato whilst presenting the company update then its all good! The drawback I guess, is whether people have the best attention span on virtual meetings… are people easily distracted…? Is the humorous diagram below an honest representation? I, personally feel that I get more work done at home with less distractions but can understand the logic of this – and it is certainly interesting having a nosy at other colleagues’ houses and getting inspiration for home interiors…

2. Virtual corporate events

Since the virus broke out, many companies have felt forced to cancel their events which, being an event planner has not been great news for me, as one by one, I was seeing events being dropped. However, on the flip side, some companies have decided to pivot to virtual rather than cancel altogether. Virtual conferencing has been around for a while but people seem to be exploring this option more now than ever in a desperate attempt to keep conferences going where possible due to the uncertainty of when ‘live events’ will take place again.

Of course, live events always seem so much better as you are meeting people face to face but there are a lot of pros to virtual events in my opinion. You can save money on travel, accommodation, food & beverage whilst the numbers could almost be limitless as you are not restricted to the size of a venue and you don’t have the risk of catching any viruses! You could in fact invite even more people than you would normally allowing information to be shared to a wider audience. Again, as long as people have the right technology to manage this smoothly, it almost makes sense to move to virtual if you’re able to rather than lose events altogether. Of course one thing to be conscious of as displayed in the graph above, is keeping everyone’s attention span and there are lots of companies that can help with keeping people engaged… including live polls and games to add some competition between attendees. Have you had any corporate events and managed to keep everyone engaged successfully?

3. Virtual public events

Now, I don’t think anything can really come close to actually being at a live event, in particular a concert or sporting event where you become consumed by the electric atmosphere, suddenly becoming best friends with the fans next to you, sharing a common interest. However, since being in lockdown, musicians have played live music, theatres have put on live plays, comedians and magicians have put on live shows, all virtually in an attempt to not only provide entertainment to everyone at home, but also to try to keep fans and possibly earn some money through donations. Formula 1 decided to launch an F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series, with a number of current F1 drivers to entice fans to continue watching races virtually. Zoos have given live tours, educating children about the animals as they are unable to visit and theme parks have given people to the chance to enjoy a virtual roller-coaster… will these events continue after lockdown I wonder?

Unfortunately I also experienced my first virtual funeral in lockdown, something I never thought I’d have to do, particularly difficult during this time when you cant comfort each other in person. But I thought, how fortunate I was, to still be able to attend if not physically, and be able to watch the service. Potentially this could continue if for any reason someone may not be able to travel to the funeral, they can still be with the family and say their good byes virtually?

Personally, I don’t think a virtual event can compare to a live event however it definitely opens up opportunities for people who may not be able to attend otherwise due to location, accessibility or finances?

4. Virtual healthcare

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, healthcare providers have reduced the number of visits to clinics and are operating more virtually to help patients from their homes. I think its great that healthcare professionals are offering advice based on symptoms and I’m sure in some cases that is fine but I do also wonder if its easy to misdiagnose without examining the patient fully in person? I know surgeries tend to get overrun with patients, particularly ones that could go to the pharmacy for advice so perhaps, moving forwards it would be a good way to manage queries in order to decide whether a patient needs to visit a healthcare professional or can resort to home-care remedies / the pharmacy? I’ve also seen opticians like Vision Express offering support virtually to their customers, I think its definitely reassuring that companies are still operating and guiding people as best as they can during this unsettling time. Again, it almost makes sense to continue to offer this support virtually after lockdown, particularly for those that might find it difficult to reach someone in person, so to easily speak to someone first before making the trip surely would help?

5. Virtual fun

I attended my first virtual house party through this app, funnily enough called ‘House party’ whereby you join others in playing games like Pictionary or Trivia and have fun with your friends over drinks safely in the comfort of your own home. Of course, it’s definitely not the same as a real get together with your friends and I’m really missing mine so much now, however it does offer some lighthearted entertainment when you can’t meet face to face. Online dating has also stepped up a level where people can ‘virtually date’ rather than meeting online & going out for a date somewhere. Perks? Well if you don’t like someone at least you can use ‘poor connection’ as a reason to excuse yourself… without the awkwardness of fumbling your way through a dinner date knowing this person isn’t right for you! It could also be a good way of getting to know someone better before deciding whether they are worth meeting face to face?! It is strange but I have found that I talk more to people now than I did before, all thanks to the virtual world and I think its good to know that wherever we are in the world we can easily connect to people and still have some fun. 🙂

6. Virtual fitness

As I’d mentioned in my last post, I’ve been doing more fitness from the virtual sessions available. Joe Wickes has boosted his followers by doing a virtual PE session every day to help kids get active with adults joining in too which I think is amazing and something fun for the kids to do each morning whilst stuck at home. If you can’t physically get to a fitness session, how great that you can do it in the comfort of your own home? You could also work out with a friend that you ordinarily might not be able to do because you live in different locations – but dialling into the same zoom session makes you feel like you are in the class together, bringing you closer. Of course, nothing compares to going to a live class, watching everyone around helping to motivate you but perhaps continuing virtually will reach a wider audience, at a fee to ensure instructors still get paid. It would be interesting to know if you attend virtual fitness sessions or if you struggle with motivating yourself at home?

7. Virtual shopping

Online shopping has been going for a while now but since being in lockdown, it may be easier for some people to buy their groceries whilst others have been shopping for retail therapy to help them through this situation…I know I’ve done some of my own shopping to pass the time so I don’t blame you! I’ve also noticed some retailers have now gone into administration.. will this be the end of high-street shops as we know them? Will all shops be forced to move online? It will be interesting to see what happens but I do wonder about those that still don’t have WIFI and rely on their local round the corner?

8. Virtual School

Of course, this is something that ive not had to worry about, not having kids of my own but I do have friends with kids and also friends that are teachers… honestly, I do not envy them! I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for children being taken out of school to be expected to attend virtual lessons when all they want to do is play at home, some too young to even understand what is going on, wondering when they will be back at school or able to see their friends. Teachers desperately thinking of ways to keep students engaged and to keep on top of their education, by sending out learning tools and attempting virtual lessons. Parents are trying to put some kind of routine in place to manage kids ‘home schooling’ whilst also trying to keep on top of their own work if they are still in jobs. This is one thing, that I’m not sure works well virtually but it definitely depends on the age of the student and how focused they are?

As we celebrate the momentous VE day, 75 years since the end of WWII unfortunately we are not able to celebrate together with our loved ones– but how lucky are we, that we have the option to be able to speak & see each other virtually in this modern world, knowing that soon, this ‘war’ of our own will be over and ‘we will meet again’.

I would love to know of your experience in the Virtual world… is there anything you would like to continue even after lockdown?

Next time – Look out for my post where I’ll be talking about the ‘power of the mind’…& sharing tips to help overcome any anxiety which many may have experienced for the first time since being in lockdown…

2 thoughts on “Venturing into Virtual

  1. Another excellent read Nam! So interesting to read your thoughts on the new virtual world that we’re loving in.

    I personally think that nothing compares to a live event but it certainly is proving a popular and workable alternative. I also believe it will be a consideration for all events once things go back to ‘normal’ as you say, the cost saving will be huge and not to mention the audience reach.

    I’m currently arranging attendance to a virtual oncology Congress at the end of this month. The numbers attending are almost the same as when it was due to be a live event. I can certainly see the appeal and particularly at the moment when HCPs time is even more precious than usual. Do they really have time to travel half way across the world for a 5 day congress? Why not just get the science updates virtually instead over 3 days.

    Anyway, as I said a great read and looking forward to your next instalment. X

    Like

    1. Thanks for your feedback lovely! The virtual oncology congress sounds interesting, great that you have similar numbers, like you say it makes it easier for people to attend a short congress without spending time & money travelling to get there! It will be interesting to see how many continue to move virtual post COVID-19 for those simple reasons! X

      Like

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