The technology is here; it’s never been easier to communicate and collaborate with people anywhere, any time. But that still leaves a fundamental people problem. The missing upgrade is for the human mind.

Jason Fried’s Nightmare

This quote from Jason Fried’s “Remote: Office Not Required” always seems to resonate the most during winter. I have been a remote worker for over 10 years now and enjoyed all the benefits of working at home (or a co-working space) that they talk about. Avoiding long commutes, traffic, super flexibility, enhanced productivity and family time.

We overcame some of the biggest challenges of remote working – communication and collaboration. However, the last few years I’ve found myself wondering about the long term effects of spending as much time as we do alone communicating with co-workers on tools like Skype. We’ve come a long way with video chat, enough that we’ve forgotten about the pixelated images and distorted voices. We found co-working spaces that gave us the water cooler interactions we used to love.

I want to take Jason Fried’s quote out of context for a moment to ask a few questions. What happens to the human mind when the key components of social interaction (that we crave) are abstracted by technology? Advances in technology mean we’re spending more time interacting with a screen than with real people. Soon, everyone will be a remote worker and ‘remote-worker’ itself will be relegated to antiquity. What happens to the human social component when its built upon illusory interaction? What is the human upgrade for this new experience?