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Will distance cease to be a barrier?


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The future of meetings will be mixed, combining virtual and face-to-face encounters


Pandemic highly accelerated virtual meetings, both profesional and daily encounters. Probably, this acceleration would happened anyway, but it would have come later and slower than we have seen, recognizes Thérèse Jamaa, vicepresident of Huawei Spain and Cruz Roja Española Foundation.

“We must recognize the great effort that society, companies, profesional users and consumers to adapt, learn to use technology and accept it. Also for the technological sector to give an answer to a demand that came unexpectedly”.

Jamaa does not consider that the use of videoconferences will be a passing fad because it demonstrated to be a very usefull tool. On many occasions, at the height of the pandemic, it was the only way to connect and now, when the pandemic is loosing intensity, it will continue to be and much more in the future.

Technology, will never replace face-to-face events. The ideal, according to Jamaa, will be “having a combination between virtual and face-to-face that allow to connect people at distance and improving the social events in person and social interactions.


Technology, always at our service


Technology must always be at our service and we have to mantain control. It is essential that we can choose the role that we have to give to technology that will keep evolving in the next years, especially thanks to the 5G networks.

At the beginning of the pandemic, many people and companies were not ready, but the crisis force them to adapt. “At this moment, we have both options and it is logic that many people choose to connect virtually. We can save time, money and it is worth to take advance of it. At Huawei, for example, we are very satisfied of the results that we obtain with virtual meetings”.

Virtual meetings are not necessary less productive than face-to-face, says Thérèse Jamaa; they are simply different. There always be people who assist to a meeting in person or virtually unprepared or uninterested. Also, there are people and organizations who convene meetings that are not strictly necessary.

One of the main advantages of virtual meetings is that we seize the time better. There is a fixed hour to start and we use to get to the point; everything is plannified. On the contrary, events and social meetings leave less space for improvisation. Still, casual encounters can be a loss of time, but also it can be more productive or satisfying and offer a highly valuable opportunity or knowledge.

There is no doubt that the way to gather together and do business changed substantially. “I remember when I was working for a company from the United States and it was decided that we should have a face-to-face meeting with a client who was in Sweden, so we moved ourselves, me from Barcelona and the client from Stockolm to California to hold a meeting of an hour and a half. Now, we would have met by videoconference and it would have been better for everyone, but then, and it was not so many years ago, the most prudent, convenient and reasonable thing to do was holding a face-to-face meeting.

Digitalization, says Jamaa, has come to improve our lives. She precises that “the most important is for us to mantain the control on technology”. The future of meetings will be mixed: probably they will start with an email and afterwards, if they are enough important, we will carry them out in person or, with the evolution of technology, in a mixed format between virtuallity and in person. In any case, the human part of relationships and social interactions, will ever be essential.