Recent trends have changed drastically in the past year. Some of what we value most had never occurred to us before the pandemic. New trends in technology are creating an efficient and often, life-saving, social environment for many individuals around the world.
The Virtual Experience
Individuals from a variety of different companies are now working from home. While much of the work is the same, the environment can be vastly different. Working from the living room or home office allows for pajamas, pets, and midday snacking.
Still, it can be lonely. Even with video conferencing and apps like Zoom, much of the workday socialization feels different. Quickly briefing before a meeting is not the same as water-cooler gossip. Although it may have seemed like a small part of the workday, many employees are finding they miss the casual socialization that comes from working in an office.
The Water-Cooler Trend
In addition to video chat and old-fashioned chat messaging, many companies have started to replicate the water-cooler aspect. Talking with other employees even for just a few minutes has become so rare that virtual spaces have been created just for companies.
Software and apps like Hallway or WeTransfer provide a kind of virtual office social life. By offering happy hours or virtual break rooms, employees can relax with a new kind of work socializing. When so many employees are working from home, this social interaction can be critically important for mental health.
The mix between casual and professional is often a delicate line to walk when working from home. Since many individuals are only visible from the waist up, even wearing work pants is no longer a necessity. Since many people may not go out of their way to small talk, striking the right balance can be complicated.
It is often difficult to understand how to chat on a regular basis with employees that you may or may not know on a personal basis. When physical space is not commonly shared, the effort to reach out may seem awkward. This kind of virtual work trend allows for ten minute video chats that are both informal, yet appropriate.
Re-creation Is Popular
Since many people are choosing to stay indoors, recreation of the outside world is a natural phenomenon. Certain museum exhibits, Broadway shows, and even the work environment has been replicated. By bringing this form of socialization and entertainment into the home, isolation is often less bothersome.
The trend for virtual break rooms can capture much of the water-cooler feel. Including senior privileges. In certain apps, senior staff can lock other virtual rooms or have separate spaces to meet. This augmented reality can look strikingly similar to reality depending on which service is used.
This new trend is usually purchased by companies rather than individuals. With many employees unable to work in-person, the trend has become essential for company morale as well as teamwork.
Socialization encompasses endless trends throughout time. In this unique time period, societal trends are evolving to meet the needs of a variety of individuals. Virtual spaces may be the next new social hub for years to come.