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Four-fifths of UK consumers think everything will have a virtual component post-pandemic

For over a year, people have turned to video conferencing because it was their only option. But beyond the pandemic, almost four-fifths (79%) of consumers think that everything will have a virtual component, according to a new study from Zoom Video Communications, Inc. and Qualtrics Research.

This comes as part of a new report, “How Virtual Do We Want Our Future to Be?”, which surveyed almost 8,000 consumers, including over 1,000 in the UK, to determine the virtual activities that rose to prominence during the pandemic that people would like to see continue.

Working life stands as the top activity for which Brits want a hybrid approach, with nearly three-quarters (74%) expecting both in-person and virtual components, followed by interactions with government and public sector services (68%), and education (66%). Conversely, a large proportion of consumers want celebrations such as weddings (57%), real estate, including property tours (47%), and events like festivals (46%) to take place only in-person.

When considering the benefits of video calling, 89% feel that it can help to combat loneliness, 75% agree that it gives everyone an opportunity to participate, and 69% say that virtual activities help improve emotional health. With the additional convenience of being virtual and remote, 38% admit that they are not sure they want to go back to the old ways.

In addition to consumer demand, the benefits of a hybrid approach for those using video conferencing for business are likely to have an impact on the future of work. Over the past year, UK workers have enjoyed not having to leave home (64%), felt safer (54%) and had access to people they did not have access to in person (34%). However, over half (52%) felt a lack of personal or interpersonal connection, and 38% struggled with access to materials and resources.

“Since the start of the pandemic, video conferencing has helped people stay connected and stave off feelings of loneliness and isolation,” says Phil Perry, Head of UK & Ireland at Zoom. “But that doesn’t mean it’s the sole solution for every activity. Aspects like forging a level of personal connection are difficult to achieve virtually at the same level as people would in-person. Clearly, the demand for a hybrid approach will pave the future, with face-to-face interactions enabling deeper relationships and personal experiences, and virtual components maintaining the convenience of connecting with colleagues and loved ones wherever they are.”