Businesses everywhere are reimagining the future of work. Some are fully opening their offices, others are committing to work-from-anywhere, and most are somewhere in between. All are anxious about the long-term impact of these decisions. They should be: the basic principles of white-collar work are seeing a historic shift, in a very short time span.
Yet this shift was inevitable. Pre-pandemic, it was getting harder to keep employees engaged and productive. Workforces were becoming increasingly distributed, yet the constructs of face-time and business travel prevailed. Our attention spans were getting shorter as we consumed more Netflix-like content on social media and at home, yet we forged on with boring presentations and lengthy emails at work. These trends were bound to impact productivity and the bottom line.
The pandemic forced us to adapt. We found new ways to work, transcending borders and time zones through video conferencing, online broadcasts, and messaging tools. We eliminated the stigma of working from home and introduced a new sense of humanity to work—normalizing kids and pets in the background of meetings and allowing the messiness of our personal lives to permeate a sanitized working world. A year later and we’re stronger for it: company leaders are learning to be more transparent and relatable, and employees are connecting with colleagues in contexts and cultures they wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. Human connection is still the most powerful force in business—and we’re finding ways to deliver this connection at an unprecedented scale.
How do we translate scaled human connection into tangible productivity? We redefine the idea of a “workplace” and a “meeting” (defined by location and time) with asynchronous, placeless communication (defined by software that is accessible to all). And we embrace media like video as a primary way to share knowledge and information at work.
Technology has reached the point where mass adoption of video can extend far beyond meetings and events—such that every time we send an email, collaborate on a project, host a training, demo a product or pitch a customer, that interaction is enhanced with engaging, professional-quality video. Video that is then transcribable and searchable, so that the content housed within it can be made accessible across a company.
This allows us to unshackle complex, nuanced ideas from time-bound meetings, so knowledge can spread faster and be retained longer. We can ensure that everyone— no matter where they are or their personal responsibilities—has access to the same information. We can then build culture, promote collaboration and access talent in a truly global and inclusive way, breaking the limitations of “where” and “when” to greatly expand the “who” in our workforce.
For every business planning for the future: it’s time to adopt, not just adapt. Imagine how much more efficient and informed we will be when over 1 billion knowledge workers become content creators, able to learn, collaborate and connect, free from the constraints of time and place.
Anjali Sud is chief executive officer of Vimeo