beyond the coronavirus: better human to human interaction

As everything has been put on hold to focus on the crisis of the moment, I think we need to take a moment to think about life after this moment. Maybe we can use this as an opportunity to innovate and drive towards a new, better model of human interaction.

First, let’s talk a bit about the most significant upside of this moment – the lesson that many, many people perform an unnecessary time-sucking commute by their companies. This forced commute, a leftover from the days when we had very little technology to collaborate, is, in my view, a leftover from our ancestors.

Since we’ve roamed the savannah, we’ve prized face to face interactions over all others. We’ve done this for as long as we have been human. While we finally can nearly replace this face-to-face bias with a remote bias, we still insist on workers commuting to a specific location. Now that most of us are working remotely, many employees now realize that their commute was mostly unnecessary. Think about the year and years wasted commuting to a job that could be remote. On the flip side, companies who call themselves progressive thought that they could not handle having their people work from home. Yet, here they are.

Sure, many jobs require people to be face-to-face. However, this crisis has proven that mush is doable remotely, reducing the stress on both humans and the environment. If we maintained remote work for all of the workers who could work remotely, imagine the reduced stress across the board.

Keeping these workers remote would up the traffic a bit, but it would still reduce both traffic and commute density.

Why not do the same for education too? During the crisis, many students were sent home and are attending classes just like they were together. One might even argue that they would be able to focus on their studies at home than in a lecture hall better.

Imagine the roads, buses, and trains free of remote workers and remote students. Traffic would no longer be an issue. Rush hour would be a thing of the past.

The longer this goes on, the more we can either get used to it – or the more we can fight against it.

This level of remote work and study is where we were going to end up anyway. This virus simply accelerated the timeline.

I’ve love to see more companies embrace remote work, just like this. It’s too bad that once this crisis is over, many will return to work as before. I hope that some of the more progressive firms see the light and leave it as is – especially for those who prefer not to commute.

Let use this opportunity to innovate ways to improve the remote experience beyond our staid old face-to-face model. Let’s encourage remoteness currently and in future startups by incentivizing businesses to start remote and go remote. Let’s keep innovating on ways to collaborate remotely better.

Let’s make “remote” better than in-person. Now, that’s a challenge.