A man telecommuting at his home. Illustrative photo.
A man telecommuting at his home. Illustrative photo. (MAXPPP)

Twitter, Facebook or Google only talk about telecommuting. Has the intensive use of technology since the start of the Covid-19 crisis changed our perception of remote working?

I think that within 5 to 10 years, 50% of its Facebook employees will work remotely “said Mark Zuckerberg Thursday, May 20 in an online video intervention. Telework, we don’t know if it’s health, but in any case it is the future, if we are to believe the big bosses of Silicon Valley. Last week, Twitter boss Jack Dorsey authorized his employees to work permanently at a distance, while Google’s return to the office is not expected until next year.

According to Mark Zuckerberg, the Covid-19 crisis has had a profound impact and technology is making it possible to develop telework on a large scale. Today, thanks to videoconferencing, tomorrow with virtual reality. Behind these great declarations are also hidden commercial ambitions since these companies themselves offer teleworking tools (Facebook Workplace, Google Drive, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc.) and are fighting a fierce commercial battle to impose them.

The fact is that mentalities are changing, including in France. Telework is progressing in fact and in mind. At the end of 2019, 7% of French people practiced it; they were 30% during containment. Among those who had never tried it before, more than 70% would want to work from home at least one day a week in the future. We are seeing the spread of the idea that it is not necessarily essential to go to the office to work and that remote work, which was the exception yesterday, could one day become the rule.

During the confinement, we learned the technologies and in particular the videoconferencing tools. Video, which has advantages because it avoids unnecessary and lengthy meetings and allows you to get to the point. But the video meetings would also be more tiring because we are focused on the word and we do not see his interlocutors in full, he misses the perception of bodily expressions. In addition, you cannot share an apartment with colleagues, except by SMS. Speech is less spontaneous. Finally, we focus on the image we want to give of ourselves in front of the camera.

We also hijacked professional applications for privacy during this confinement, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, in order to share video-aperitifs or sports sessions with friends. In short, we can say that it was a pivotal period in the use of technology. There will be a before and an after.

And the future? It will be spatialized sound (to make low masses), real-time translation, cameras integrated in the screens, to be able to look at the interlocutors in the eyes, and of course immersive video in virtual reality glasses. For example, Facebook briefly exposed a concept of a virtual reality office on video:

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