The pandemic has been tough on all of us. Between the time lost with loved ones, the businesses that shut down, and the millions lost to COVID-19, the last two and a half years have been anything but easy.
Fortunately, while the world locked down, technology was here to alleviate the stress as best it could. Zoom meetings, virtual socials, and dozens of other remote alternatives to real world events saved us from the disconnectedness and – let's be honest – boredom of the world's first pandemic in a hundred years.
From workout sessions and work meetings to comedy shows and game nights, millions of people have used technology to ease the burden of the pandemic, so that staying connected, relevant, and healthy doesn't have to take a backseat to surviving a global pandemic.
We talked to a wide range of individuals and organizations that used technology to retain a sense of normalcy during abnormal times. Take a look at what they had to say about how technology saved them and their passions.
Staying Profitable in the Pandemic
With 43% of small businesses closing due to the pandemic, it's safe to say the livelihood of many individuals was drastically affected by COVID-19. The ability to stay profitable and solvent was not an easy one, but technology alleviated the burden for a wide range of businesses, particularly when it came to stay in touch with important clients and valuable employees.
In fact, in many cases, the pandemic presented opportunities for businesses to increase sales. With millions of previously uninitiated tech users taking to the internet to stay connected, many business owners were able to take advantage through virtual events and enjoy higher attendance than ever before.
“Obviously, the pandemic caused an increase in the use of tools such as Zoom to allow people to stay connected and to create interactive experiences with brands, but another thing that it did was normalize the use of these tools and thereby increase the amount of people willing to attend virtual events,” Sean Nguyen, Director of Internet Advisor.
While many businesses had the luxury of working from home, performers like stand-up comedians were left to wonder where the stage time might come from and, more importantly, how they were going to pay their bills. Fortunately, Zoom comedy shows swooped in and provided a new avenue to laughs and a more convenient and effective means of getting tips into the hands of comedians.
“Virtual comedy makes Venmo plugs easy. We had each comic show their payment info during the show, so tips could go to them directly. This made every comic bring their best so they could make some money,” said Sammy Obeid, comic and producer of KO Comedy.
While businesses closed and lay-offs took hold, technology provided a wide variety of new avenues to make money and stay solvent during the pandemic.
Staying Sane and Healthy
Let's be honest, the pandemic has taken a toll on our collective mental health. From the constant crisis mentality to prolonged isolation, poor mental health has become significantly more common in the population. In fact, four in ten Americans reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety of depression over the last two years.
Fortunately, technology like video chat platforms have allowed people to stay in touch in one way or another, leading to a much healthier experience for everyone.
“One of the advantages of technology nowadays is that people have access to a strong internet connection in their homes which allows them to make video calls from their devices to friends and family all over the world. I believe that this has helped people fight serious conditions such as depression, anxiety and it kept their mental health at a stable level too during such an uncertain time,” said Eran Galperin, Founder & CEO of GymDesk.
It's not just work happy hours and social checkups either. Video chat and other technological hacks have allowed people to branch out from their normal behavior and lean into the virtual nature of social interactions. Technology has even allowed game nights to take on a whole new life of their own, and we're here for mental health benefits that stem from it.
“Zoom opened up a new world of gaming with old friends and enabled making new friends. Suddenly being trapped in your house didn't mean you had to be antisocial. It was the biggest factor in maintaining my mental health throughout the pandemic, and I'll continue this well after everything opens back up,” Steve ‘Dragon Warrior' Albertson, member of Epic Levels.
Simply put, technology paved the way for everyday people to circumvent the stay-at-home orders and create a virtual life that could — at least partially — take the place of your social life long enough to facilitate a bit of mental health.
Staying Relevant in an Remote World
The reality is that the pandemic shut us off to the rest of the world. In-person meetings, conferences, stop-ins, and drop-bys were all gone in the blink of an eye, and business was anything but “as usual.” Being able to stay relevant in the business world became just as hard as staying solvent or healthy.
But with technology, staying in front of your clients and keeping in touch with your team didn't have to be a chore. Sure, there were growing pains, like Zoom security problems or Slack outages, but generally speaking, employees had a way to keep the lights on thanks to technology.
“With the pandemic forcing many individuals to work remotely, Zoom has helped to keep directly in touch with key stakeholders and clients. The continuity of direct engagement and interaction has been critical for many businesses, and we cannot say otherwise,” said Mario Cacciottolo, PR and Branding Manager at Sports Betting Online.
Tradition businesses had it a bit easier than others, though. For example, gyms had a lot of trouble, offering a small, poorly ventilated experience that features active people grunting and breathing loudly in close proximity to one another. Fortunately, virtual event software provide a means to keep the lights on and provide a fitness alternative to in-person workouts.
“Lockdown found us making a lot of adjustments to our software for gyms that were freezing memberships or closing down. But there were also studios that implemented virtual training sessions. This resulted in a massive increase in communication between the team and with our clients and we found video meetings the most efficient way to deal with this,” said Eran Galperin, Founder & CEO of GymDesk.
It may be easy to forget, but there were a lot of new hires during the pandemic as well. In many cases, these people started jobs and worked with coworkers that they had never met in person for years. Technology alleviated that awkwardness with video chat meetings that could, at least somewhat, simulate the work experience and allow these new employees to still grow within their role.
“Technology and programs like Zoom and Google Meet made it possible for me to attend interviews and onboard into a new company until the office was suitable for us to return. I have been able to learn and grow within my company attending live webinars online and marketing events that would have been canceled if not for Zoom and technology,” said Katelyn Perez, Lead SEO specialist at Tandem.Buzz.
There's no true replacement for in-person work, particularly when it comes to staying relevant in the business world. Still, technology bridged the gap to allow employees and business owners alike to stay in the fight to keep their business open and thriving.
Staying Connected Online
In March 2020, we all realized how important it was to be connected. With everyone inside for months and subsequent case spikes causing everything from lockdowns to mask mandates, being connected with your friends, families, and coworkers because the ultimate goal.
Technology facilitated that connection, and we're very fortunate that it did. Most companies used Zoom and other video conferencing tools to host meetings and check-ins with employees. Still, some companies took that connection to a whole new level.
“Our company, which has operated as a hybrid workforce since inception, has a full team video call that runs throughout each workday. While the video defaults to mute, it is a way that the small team stays visually connected and can quickly check in with each other to ask how everyone’s weekend was or let everyone know if you have to take off early to head to the vet,” said Lacy Talton, Partner & Co-Founder of Media Tradecraft.
While video calls have become significantly more common in an effort to make connecting a bit easier, we can all admit that they don't match the real thing. In fact, many argue that Zoom fatigue and similar conditions have paved the way for less connection than before.
“While the increased accessibility of Zoom has been great for drawing participants in the first place, the relative ease of leaving a Zoom event means many participants tend to come and go as they please. This can disrupt the feeling of community and undercuts the experience, whether it’s comedy shows, author readings, or even casual meetups,” Dan Bladen, Co-founder and CEO of Kadence.
Still, something is better than nothing, particularly during a pandemic that has kept people indoors for the majority of the last two years. And even if it's a watered down version of connection, we'd much rather connect with our co-workers, friends, and families over video call than not at all.
“People need connection and Zoom was the most used means of connecting with people from around the world,” said Liz Miller, Communication Manager for GetSetUp.
Technology has saved us during the pandemic in a number of ways. It kept us mentally healthy, financially solvent, professional, relevant, and personally connected to the people in our lives. While it may seem like the worst days of the COVID-19 are behind us, technology and its newest innovations will continue to help us stay the course, pandemic or not.