When COVID Goes Away, Video Will Be Here To Stay

“I have fallen in love with Zoom… I think Zoom is here to stay. It just adds so much convenience.”

Charlie Munger, quoted during an interview on CNBC’s special “Buffett & Munger: A Wealth of Wisdom.”

For all of you thinking that when COVID hits the rear-view mirror things will get back to ‘normal’ and Zoom will be a thing of the past – please reconsider! Charlie Munger nailed it in his comments on CNBC. Zoom (and Teams, and most of the others) will be here to stay.

There are a million reasons getting back face-to-face with clients, prospects, colleagues, and most other human beings, at a Starbucks, in a conference room, at a manufacturing plant, is a wonderful thing. COVID has been a heinous experience for the world and losing a sense of shared personal connection has been a terrible consequence. That said, far too many people see things in a binary way. “Video sucks, I need to be in person to win that deal!” or “I’m never getting on the Southwest express again – I’m all virtual, all the time!” are not the only options.

At pelotonRPM, we’re in the business of helping people communicate more effectively and we have been doing virtual for a long, long time. In fact, we do virtual exceptionally well and are proud to bill ourselves as a virtual-first company. That said, we are utterly supportive of face-to-face meetings. In fact, we share the view of Stanford and others that all-video, all the time can be an unhealthy way to engage.

Here’s our bold prediction. People are going to start getting on airplanes and gathering in conference rooms. Companies are going to pull employees into the office. Barring another COVID surge, it’s going to start feeling like ‘normal’ again. But then something interesting will happen. The buyer is going to say “Hey, I’d rather not wait to meet in person and my schedule is pretty packed. Let’s jump on a 20 minute Zoom to hammer out the details…” Your boss is going to say “Do you really need to fly to Seattle?” Your CFO is going to say “Sorry, I know your team wants to hit the road, but we’re not putting those travel dollars back into the budget…” Your COO is going to say “It’s a lot easier to get everyone together virtually for the new product training than it is to fly the entire global sales team to Charlotte…”

And why are they going to say these things? Because they heard about Charlie Munger’s comments, of course! Live video adds a ton of convenience and saves a huge amount of money. Not every meeting should be on video. You’re going to need to hit the road and meet a client sometimes. A phone call may suffice or a tight email could also do the trick. We need to be great omni-channel communicators – that’s the way it’s going to work. Bill Gates is on the record saying 50% of business travel (and 30% of days-in-office) will go away. We’re not sure if those numbers are right, but over time they may be close.