Is this what we want?

I was on a very interesting Zoom call the other day, set up by Tech Nation. The North East Virtual Roundtable was set up to look at the tech skills situation across the country with this meeting obviously focussed on the region. It offered to give the audience some ‘Key findings on the UK tech sector and key findings on jobs in the North East’. The information in the presentation delivered by Dr George Windsor, Tech Nation, along with the subsequent discussion was fascinating and very useful, especially in the work I am doing around a cybersecurity innovation centre.

I also knew quite a few of the faces around the virtual table and it was great to see some people that I hadn’t seen in a while. Unfortunately, faces were all I saw.

The good news, which I was aware of in advance but which was emphasised by this round table, is that the tech scene in the region is doing extremely well. Many companies are booming and the North East is performing better than many other areas across the country. We heard from a couple of companies in particular which had doubled in size during the pandemic and had now a significant proportion of its staff that had never visited its premises nor met their colleagues, other than online.

This is amazing. If someone had said to me a year ago that this is the way the world would be I imagine I would have shaken my head in disagreement. The world, especially the tech world has moved very quickly to adapt to the new reality.

But then a part of me thinks this is awful, working for a company and colleagues that you have never physically met. I’m sure this suits some people but not me. Of course this means that we can hire in people easily from other parts of the country, or indeed the world (presumably without visas), while on the other hand other businesses can do the same to us. It means that we could end up with swathes of people working for companies to which they have no real connection, or is this just me thinking too much.

I ask myself though, is this what we want?

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