Pop Culture TechCategory3 min read

Sorry, I Was On Mute!

Blakely Thomas-AguilarNovember 30, 2021
At the onset of the 2020 pandemic, an  interconnected digital web helped power #ZoomLife’s meteoric rise into pop culture legend.  In this Pop Culture Tech episode, we talk about the culture and innovation powering our new world of work.

Listen to Pop Culture Tech Podcast 2.5

What’s In This Episode

  • The remote work phenomenon
  • Experience elevates evidence
  • Work and offices reimagined
  • Emerging tech offers answers
  • Powering business and humanity forward

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Featuring (In Order of Appearance)

From left to right: Blakely Thomas-Aguilar, Pop Culture Tech podcast host; Laurel Farrer, founder and CEO, Distribute Consulting; and Harry Moseley, global CIO, Zoom

Our New Work Reality

Not every work experience outside the office is perfect. Presenters still forget to unmute. Attendees leave mics on. Yet today’s employees are feeling pretty good about remote working.

In the recent Virtual Floorplan: New Rules for a New Era of Work study, three-quarters (75%) of employees globally agreed moving to a distributed working environment has meant their performance—and not traditional metrics like time in the office—is being valued more by their employers.

Pop Culture Tech's remote work podcast episode checked in with two experts to explore how businesses and workers maintain the momentum.

The Flexible Work Phenomenon

In the 1970s, a very small group of employees began the teleworking trend, primarily doing tasks from home. After Y2K, increasing access to mobile devices and cloud technologies catalyzed work from anywhere and the remote workforce emerged. Then came 2020 and the pandemic, accelerating the growth and acceptance of work from everywhere by decades.

Today, remote and hybrid working styles are commonplace. Employees want these flexible workstyles to continue. And this has leaders around the world strategizing about how to concurrently maximize flexibility and productivity.

“The term ‘remote work’ will cease to exist. Very soon, remote work will just be work, because it will be the majority, and it will be the standard,” said Laurel Farrer, founder and CEO of Distribute Consulting.

76% of global employees want to continue working from home. On average, their preference is for 2.5 days a week in the U.S.  and 2 days per week globally.

Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey

Experience Curbs Doubts

Historically, mid-level managers and people farther along on their career journeys objected most to remote working’s viability. The primary reasons: working away from the office was so different from co-located environments and they couldn’t imagine how it would effectively serve the business.

The pandemic eliminated all the resistance and doubt around the credibility of remote work, Farrer believes, because every manager of every business in every industry experienced remote work at the same time. “Leaders were able to experience it in their teams; to see their teams staying productive,” she said. “They now have the evidence they needed to prove the viability of remote work as an operational model.”

Reimagining the Office’s Purpose

The pandemic also changed employees’ perception of work. It’s no longer somewhere people go.

“Work is something we do,” explained Harry Moseley, Global CIO of Zoom. The challenge for organizations now is “how do you bring people back to the office in a way that is inclusive, like what we’ve experienced…where we can collaborate safely.”

How Tech Fits In

Zoom, the company dedicated to making video communications frictionless and secure, has ideas.

CEO Eric Yuan founded the company on five principles that drive innovation, Moseley said:

  1. Ease of use
  2. Incredible reliability
  3. Innovation at speed and scale
  4. Affordable pricing
  5. Privacy

The overarching vision that Zoom is working really hard on today, is “how can we make the virtual experience as good, if not better than the in-person experience,” said Moseley.

New Zoom capabilities are a start. Smart Gallery, for example, leverages artificial intelligence to provide immersive views and more so people can continue to experience the nonverbal cues they’ve gotten to accustomed to having while working away from the office.

What the pandemic has taught leaders and employees is that “there’s now a way to do business better,” concluded Farrer. And that includes asking hard questions—about empathy, alignment and shared values—and supporting the answers with modern communications channels and technology.