Have we met, if we’ve only ‘met’ on Zoom?

Who knew at the start of 2020 that by the end of March, our lives would have been turned upside down? But as is our nature, in general the country – if not the world – we quickly found new ways to adapt to the strange ‘lockdown’ world we were living in.  Did you know that in March 2020, the number of calls carried out in Teams grew by 1000%, and throughout the year, the Zoom app was downloaded 485 million times? That’s the difference working from home has made to the adoption and use of these platforms.

Our new virtual reality

Since the start of the pandemic, communication platforms such as Teams and Zoom have been intrinsic to us being able to carry on working and ‘meeting’, while unable to leave the house. And it’s not just been used for business. Many people’s social lives have revolved around these video platforms too. In that time, new business and personal contacts have been made. People have started new roles in new companies, and business staples such as networking, conferences and exhibitions have all moved into the virtual arena. This means there are now many cases where business and personal relationships have been formed via the screen, rather than in person.

So now there’s an interesting dichotomy – everything is starting to open up and many people have been vaccinated, so the return to in-person, rather than virtual, meetings is starting to resume. But have you actually properly met someone, if you have only met them via Zoom?

From my point of view

Personally, I have found that I have adapted to using Zoom surprisingly well. It has enabled me to keep in close contact with my clients and develop the friendships and relationships that would normally evolve from meeting in person.

In addition, early on during lockdown, I connected with an HR professionals’ networking group in Manchester. I didn’t know any of the other members when I joined, but over the following months the connections I made within that group became far more important than just an opportunity to widen my network.  I am proud to say that members within that group have become close, personal friends and confidantes.  But we’ve never met in person.

I feel confident in saying that when the time comes for us – clients or colleagues – to meet in reality, it won’t simply be ‘nice to meet you’, as our relationships have already gone beyond those niceties. Meeting in person won’t negate what has gone before. It will be an opportunity to exchange a hug and further explore the conversations we have already been having. The difference being, we’ll be in the same room, with maybe a coffee or a glass of wine.

The other side

However, I also know through conversations with colleagues and clients across many different businesses, not everyone has willingly embraced this ‘virtual reality’ phenomenon. Many people are keen to leave the screen and resume face-to-face meetings as soon as possible. Having said that, very few people can deny that these platforms have enabled business to carry on, if not as normal, then at least to enable functionality to carry out their roles. If it’s a job you can do from home, using a laptop or desktop computer, then you’re only a click away from the office. Fortunately, this has also meant, you’re only a click away from a friend too.