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Technology in the Age of COVID

by Howard Yan

LinkedIn Headquarters (source)

The age of coronavirus is now an indelible part of our lives. Over the past six months, self-confinement has virtualized every interaction outside the door, creating a parallel virtual sphere alongside the physical world. None of this is possible without technology companies’ products serving as quasi-extensions of every person into the online sphere. Adequately managing these attached responsibilities by addressing consumer needs is difficult, yet multiple companies have stepped up to ensure society remains connected and productive.

According to McKinsey, consumers are understandably utilizing social media at unprecedented rates. However, closer examination reveals significant traffic away from traditional technology titans towards self-care applications. As physical interactions remain difficult with quarantine restrictions, a plethora of mental health programs has emerged to support consumers. Leading the pivot towards meditation and sleep is Headspace, with John Legend as its creative CMO. Besides the usual trappings, Headspace built a notable 60+ million-strong community in response to bring home shared experiences. In doing so, Headspace marks an ongoing trend towards mindful technology, encouraging proactivity in lieu of reactivity. By creating space for meditation and discourse, it offers a needed escape from a home space erring into workplace dynamics.

Unfortunately, career development is crawling to a halt in many parts of the US as nominal GDP is set for a record 32% contraction during the pandemic (annualized rate). Though the economy shows signs of recovery, hiring is lackluster and 11 million jobs remain lost. To help the unemployed find new positions, networking sites have offered tips and pinned career opportunities. LinkedIn in particular has provided job-seekers with daily advice, articles, and
community resources for personal and professional needs. To bolster its reach, the company is crafting a Stories feature for users to share career and everyday snapshots as part of its redesign. In keeping with its pivot towards diversity, it has begun collaborating with multiple organizations including UC Berkeley’s DiversaTech Consulting to integrate fresh perspectives and center on human-based design. The networking platform hopes to place greater focus on human connections by capitalizing on a record increase in content creation. In essence, LinkedIn and its peers are helping to re-imagine a more personalized hiring process from the first click.

As COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide, communities around the globe are also joining efforts to remain connected. Despite the difficult preceding years for the technology industry, it has re-affirmed its central role in defining communication and expression in an increasingly interconnected period. In spite of difficult circumstances, quarantine has pushed companies to begin considering users as individuals rather than customers. While technology offers a platform for unleashing creative synergies, its users remain firmly in the driving seat.

Howard Yan is a junior at UC Berkeley studying Economics and IEOR with an emphasis on business analytics & policy. He is a Senior Advisor on the Saama team with DiversaTech this semester. In his free time, he enjoys watching documentaries and exploring new cuisines with friends.

DiversaTech is the leading student-run technology consulting organization at UC Berkeley, creating unique experiences and projects that encourage students of all backgrounds to connect, collaborate, and create. We combine engineering, design, and business principles to create dynamic recommendations and strategies. Visit our website to learn more!

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DiversaTech is the leading student-run technology consulting organization at UC Berkeley. We combine engineering, design, and business principles to create dynamic recommendations and strategies.

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The leading student technology consulting organization at UC Berkeley. We combine engineering, design and business principles to create dynamic recommendations.

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