How COVID 19 Changed the way we Communicate

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Its amazing how so much has changed in such a short time. Within a matter of days, we went from working in our offices to working from home. We went from face‑to‑face meetings to web conferencing from our kitchen tables. From picking up the office line to picking up our smartphones to get calls on our VoIP mobile app.


Intelligent data networks have seen it all and adapted well to these unprecedented changes. We've witnessed voice and network usage move from the core of cities to residential neighborhoods, and big shifts in the platforms used to communicate with each other. Here are some examples and suggestions based on changes caused by the pandemic.

Cellular traffic moved from Metro areas to Residential neighborhoods.

Heavy cellular usage moved from downtown metro locations to neighborhoods. In a single week from March 9 to March 16 voice traffic from San Francisco and San Jose showed an increase of 44% in residential areas as people began working from home. Similar dramatic movement of traffic moves were found across the country. There were some hiccups but for the most part business continued as IT managers quickly deployed VoIP and took advantage of free trials for video conferencing.

American Media Consumption has Boomed

Based on Nielson data from prior major crises in recent U.S. history, total TV usage increased by nearly 60 percent. Living rooms across the country now have a constant stream of news coming in, while couches are occupied sun-up, sun-down with people scrolling through social media feeds. This is naturally changing social media trends and influencer marketing.

Video Streaming jumped by 61%. The impact points to COVID-19 and the newly remote U.S. workforce. Prior Nielsen data suggests that employees who work remotely Monday through Friday watch over three more hours per week of traditional TV, compared with non-remote workers, at 25 hours and 2 minutes versus 21 hours and 56 minutes, respectively. Before the pandemic, U.S. consumers were already just shy of 12 hours each day with media platforms, and three-fourths of U.S. consumers are broadening their media options with streaming subscriptions and TV-connected devices. That's a lot of TV, Twitter and Instagram etc!

We've Learned the Context Matters

Face to face meetings, interviews and negotiations are now taking place virtually or by phone. In fact, Zoom, a cloud-based video conferencing service, has seen daily users more than quadruple during the past several weeks.

This shift from in-person to digital communication has changed the way we read people and their body language. What are some of the long-term implications of exclusive or predominant use of virtual meetings? And given the loss of contextual and nonverbal cues in remote meetings, what are some tips on how to have more effective communication?

The differences between virtual and in-person interactions have to do with the setting or context we are in. In any interaction, there is contextualization that occurs in our head that primes us to be more sensitive to certain things.

From the time we are a few months old, everyone around the world learns rules about how to behave, how to think, how to feel, how to act in various social settings.

By the time we’re adults, our two major contexts are typically work and home. We learn to think different, act differently, and engage with people differently in those contexts. Now that work is in our home, it’s easy to be confused. We have a different mindset and things are disjointed. There is a lack of depth of visual cues and lack of depth of cognitive processing.

How can we be more effective?

  • Create a context or workspace that is more conducive to business meetings. Carve out a workspace and treat it the way you would your normal office.
  • Check your appearance on camera. Make sure not only your personal appearance is business ready but also your background (sounds, lighting etc) that others will see to make sure its appropriate.
  • Stay focused, its easy to get distracted and think that others are not paying attention... but they are.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal cues – faces and voices – along with verbal content and confirm understanding. Ask questions and get verbal confirmation that your on the same page.

We are all facing an unprecedented challenge regarding the Coronavirus pandemic. The shift to almost exclusive digital communication has changed the way we communicate and how we read people. We did not evolve to do 2-dimensional communication so we must be realistic about our expectations, exercise patience and understanding to better communicate.

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