Twilight Zone: Our new “hybrid normality”
Article by wirDesign
Through Corona our entire life shifted to the net. How will we live and work “between the worlds” in the future?
With the lockdown, we experienced a strange vacuum for months, in which for most of us both our private life and work had shifted to the net.
In this uncertain exceptional period, we were tormented by the longing to return to “pre-Corona life”, which is now gradually beginning. But how do we organize team meetings in the future, when half of our colleagues are in the office “in real life”, while the others join us from their home offices? How much digital boost through Corona will we take into the future? And how much of it do we want to take with us?
This is not yet the new world – but the old one is not (anymore)
The Internet with its colourful, garish oversupply has not changed. What’s new is how many people are now using it, who never used it before: Mothers with small children at Skype music lessons, grandparents singing good night songs to their grandchildren, catapulted from zero to 100 by Covid-19 into the reality of their children and grandchildren. Not through fancy gadgets but with a run-of-the-mill phone and laptop camera. Not quite so “digitally naive” anymore, but still no “digital native”. Companies that find that their employees are productive even in the home office. Or the “WirVsVirus Hackathon”: before Corona this would have been an event for maybe 300 nerds and specialists, in March this year a remarkable 30.000 people attended. We have the very chance that the middle of society is shifting to the digital and that we can all help shape digitization.
The new proximity: We, the virus and the customers
Ironically, the physical distance has led to our relationship with our customers becoming even closer in some cases: Most contact persons on the client side are much more relaxed. There is a new closeness when we get to know the business partner’s wall unit in the home office. We not only talk about the business topics but also about the worries, fears and the hope that the time of homeschooling will soon be over.
Half digital, half “real life”
Even before the official lockdown, all colleagues at wirDesign switched to the mobile office – usually from home – and could continue working seamlessly. Overnight, two locations became 70. Each wirDesigner has their own laptop and the exchange via Microsoft teams ran and runs smoothly. With other collaborative tools like Miro or Mural even remote workshops were fun – for us and our customers. Of course, the human “we” togetherness essential to wirDesign was missing, but there are new exchange formats between our locations in Braunschweig and Berlin. Everything was clear and well organized in our virtual office. With the gradual return, we now have to renegotiate our processes: Do we continue to meet digitally for the Monday standupmeeting or do we meet at a distance in the office and switch on our home office colleagues? And what about jour fixes with customers? Or our “designer get-together”?
The new normality – hybrid world?
What is emerging is a hybrid world of offline and online sphere. Instead of flying from Berlin to Munich for a 90-minute appointment, it could also be the video conference. Many companies, schools, public authorities – the whole everyday life – will certainly catch up digitally.
The future will not come in the form of artificial intelligence, drones and self-propelled cars, but will begin almost unnoticed with shifts in our minds: with zoom encounters that are also encounters, with a messenger interaction – with a new Microsoft-Teams-Together.
In the future, we will switch back and forth more and more smoothly between the Internet reality and the “real” reality, depending on what is more climate-friendly, more pleasant or even possible at the moment. What of this new, hybrid normality do we want to keep? And what do we have to put to the test? We have to realize that the new can only be anchored and find its place if we manage to say goodbye to the old.
Much on the net is just more accessible, more human and less formal. Let’s find out together what new standards could be on the Internet and what should remain of this “Twilight Zone”.