New work systems that are here to stay

Has it ever happened to you that once you get to the airport, you know the name of the chief flight attendant, or realize that you have coincided dozens of times with the Iberia luggage staff in Miami or Sao Paolo? That probably means that you have traveled quite a bit. This is exactly what happened to me every week between 2009 and 2014.

All this changed just a year ago. Ever since March 2020, we have learned to slow down, stop, reflect, think, be, etc.

We will never forget that a worldwide pandemic has been able to stop the world and show us that we are vulnerable.

Each and every one of us has changed many of our habits, on the personal level as well as the professional: we have reinvented ourselves in both areas. Many businesses have closed down, others are surviving, and I would say that the common denominator of the latter is finding creative ways to adapt their existing products and services to a post-pandemic world.

In my case, and returning to my first point, for several years I spent more than 220 days a year attending and holding meetings in Miami and Latin America. Of these, I would dare to say that in only 5% of these was in-person attendance necessary – the remaining 95% could have easily been held online.

Have you ever stopped to think about the number of trips and in-person meetings that could have easily been replaced with a video call? How many meeting formats could be perfectly reproduced by creating breakout rooms on Zoom or on other platforms? How many wasted or lost hours have you spent waiting around airports? How many inefficient hours have been wasted between flight connections?

If you dared to calculate it, you would surely be appalled.

What is causing the balance to now tilt towards a more efficient model of work?

  1. We have gone from a 100% in-person format to the integration of technology as a commodity into our professional day-to-day. Beforehand we spent a lot of hours in in-person meetings accepted by a management style that prioritizes physical contact, the ability to hold workshops/roleplays with in-person teams, training sessions (excessively long in many cases)… It was something that was not questioned, normalized, and accepted. Now in the same 8-hour period of time, we have become much more efficient with our time.
  2. One aspect to consider is sustainability and the carbon footprint caused by commuting by car, taxi, motorcycle, or plane. If this is extrapolated to the full spectrum of employees, technicians, freelancers looking for clients and projects, doctors, engineers, artists, middle management, managers or executives, each taking daily trips, the result is jarring.
  3. Some companies have needed to make a forced and rushed digital transformation, something that they previously had been putting off.
  4. The policies/protocols used by businesses for remote work.

In conclusion, the combination of digital transformation, remote work, and technology have created a much more efficient market. An online meeting with prior preparation of the structure, topics, and duration, with a space for debate and discussion, is much more efficient than an in-person one.

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