I am sure that many people have become teleworkers due to the Corona disaster. I myself am a teleworker, no exception, and I have been wanting to write an article about telework for some time. However, if I were to write about tips for teleworking or know-how on how not to lose productivity while teleworking, it would be the same as other articles, so I won’t write about it here. What I will write about, then, is what it means to work with people and what it means to have face-to-face conversations.
McLuhan argued that technology and media are “extensions” of the human body. He argued that a technology or medium “extends” a particular part of the body, just as a car or bicycle extends the legs or a radio extends the ears. However, he also argued that there is not only a simple expansion of the body, but also a decline of some parts as an inevitable consequence of the “expansion. In other words, while automobiles and bicycles have enabled us to go farther and faster, they have also weakened the muscles in our legs, causing us to quit walking, a basic human function. Recent studies have also shown that walking is likely to cause many diseases as a result of quitting walking and that walking can prevent many diseases. We have taken on some diseases at the cost of the benefits we gain from driving and bicycling.
So what do we gain and what do we lose by teleworking? In this article, I would like to consider the meaning of telework by thinking about this question.
The biggest thing I have noticed since becoming a teleworker is that, surprisingly, I can do my work just by teleworking without meeting in person. In the past, there was a part of me that thought that I would not be able to communicate unless we met in person, but now that I am forced to telework, both sides are making efforts to communicate and to understand each other. And as a result, it has become clear that work can be done adequately depending on the efforts of both parties. In a sense, I feel that until now we have relied on the kind of atmosphere that can be conveyed by meeting in person and have not made the efforts that we should have made to help each other. I am grateful to telework for reminding me of this.
Another benefit of teleworking would be the comfort of eliminating bothersome noise. When people work together in the same place, they inevitably talk to each other and hear conversations, which makes it difficult to maintain one’s own rhythm. Telework, however, removes all such disruptions to one’s rhythm, allowing one to concentrate and work more efficiently than usual.
In a sense, telework allows me to focus on the essential aspects of my work. I have come to think. I feel that teleworking has the advantage of allowing us to focus on what we need to do in our own work without unnecessary chit-chatting to try to understand what we need to communicate and what we need to understand. Of course, there may be problems such as slacking off, being tempted, or being difficult to manage, but telework may be a way of working that is difficult only for people who have a certain degree of autonomy.
In fact, according to one survey, more than half of those who teleworked reported an increase in productivity.
More than half of advertising managers say teleworking has increased their work productivity [Saika survey].
Thus, telework offers us several benefits. So what have we lost by teleworking? It can be thought of as being inextricably linked to the benefits described above. In other words, the atmosphere and casual chit-chat. What did the atmosphere and the banter bring to us? Perhaps it is a sense of togetherness, a sense of belonging to this place, a sense of unity to achieve a goal together.
This is a completely personal feeling, but as I continued to telework, I was able to concentrate on my own work, while at the same time, I stopped paying attention to my surroundings altogether. What are the people around me doing? I feel that my awareness of what role I play in the overall activities of the company and my own department has diminished considerably. I think this is due to the fact that I don’t have colleagues nearby, and I think it may be due to the fact that I focus on my work without having any chit-chat with them.
In this sense, I believe that teleworking is causing us to lose our sense of togetherness, belonging, and camaraderie. Perhaps it is a characteristic of the Japanese that they place so much importance on meeting in person and working in the same place. It occurred to me that the sense of security in having the same values may be the reason why teleworking has not spread in Japan. Perhaps the reason why productivity increased in the above survey is because teleworking frees people from chit-chat and meetings whose sole purpose is to foster a heightened sense of belonging. That would be evidence that there is so much waste in Japanese companies to enhance a sense of belonging.
In a sense, the forced telework caused by the Corona disaster may have been an opportunity to steer many people’s working styles in the direction of a focus on productivity. This opportunity was enough of a factor to cause the company’s upper management, who had old ideas, to change their minds. I have a feeling that the future will be an era in which productivity will be even more justified.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that human relationships will become even more tenuous in the future. Considering the fact that humans, as social animals, cannot be happy or satisfied without a connection with others, more and more people will become mentally ill, and businesses that bring people together, such as matching businesses, are likely to grow even more.
How will you respond to such changing times? I assume that this blog is being viewed by those involved in marketing, and marketing is the business of adapting to such human changes. Please think for yourself and put it into practice.