Remote living and learning in a new connected age

By Hans Dummer

There is no question that our working and leaning environments are unrecognisable to those of only a few month ago. Change is inevitable, but the speed at which we have undergone this change is unique. Three years ago, we undertook an extensive research project to better understand the expected changes to work and education. Of course, at that time our circumstances were different, and the predictions made by the experts involved seemed far-away.

Back then, working and learning remotely through virtual collaboration were positive trends, still the best part of a decade away and an opportunity to be released by a generation ready to take it on. Turns out, we are that generation. And for the most part, we’re making it work.

Knowledge gaps, flagged in our research as threats to future working trends, have been closed by necessity.  And for those of us with children, we have witnessed a rapid switch to home learning, with remote lessons and the ability to connect to them established at lightning speed.

So what can those past predictions still tell us and how can we learn from them?  Looking back over our old report, a few things stand out:

Upskill your workforce; they’re ready for it

At the time of our research, the majority of those we spoke to expected that technology would revolutionise their industries within the coming ten years. While today’s working and learning shift has happened quickly, it is not wholly unexpected, and remote working and learning are something many organisations, and their employees, have been readying themselves for. Seventy one percent of the European workforce that we spoke to expressed positivity toward evolving technology and were ready to engage with technological change.

However; this comes with a caution. Our study also demonstrated, even back then, that much of the workforce and leaders alike felt overwhelmed, and to some extent threatened, by new technology. It would be wise to acknowledge this now in the wake of such rapid reliance on new technologies and consider how we ensure our teams become confident using and succeeding via remote solutions.

Upskilling and closing knowledge gaps is critical; but there’s a desire for it from the workforce. This is something that today’s employers should capitalise on. People want to learn and grow in order to secure their roles and at the time of our study, 65% told us they would retrain for a different role if they felt theirs was threatened. Today, this figure is likely higher.  Consider shuffling roles if needed or possible, in order to preserve jobs. People are willing and ready to learn new skills.  And proper implementation of new remote technologies - even if rushed - and clear communication from business leaders, HR and IT can help ensure business success.

Collaboration; keep people active and involved

While total remote working and learning has been realised almost overnight, it was expected to happen at some point to a greater or lesser extent. In fact, during our study 71% of those involved predicted that future meeting rooms would be entirely virtual with employees based in workspaces around the globe using technology to join real-time workgroups. Similarly, according to our panel of experts and futurists, the classroom of tomorrow was already expected to look and feel entirely different to those that we know.


The belief back then was that we were already moving toward an era of remote collaboration and meta learning (being aware of and taking control of one’s own learning).  Like in work, education is reliant on relationships and interaction. Unsurprisingly, 74% of those we spoke to cautioned that no virtual application would ever replace face-to-face connections for relationship building - a fact that we need to be mindful of today.

Of course, we have not set this situation up due to desire and the time allowed to enable it has meant we have had to rely on the tools available in the moment. But there are solution that both businesses and educators can look to over time. The use of collaborative technologies, platforms and products, such as Epson’s interactive projectors, will help deliver more dynamic educational content and encourage increased peer to peer engagement, knowledge retention and a greater sense of contribution.

Maintain motivation

Motivation in times of change is always a struggle and we should therefore expect that employee, student and teacher motivation will take a hit.  Even as an abstract possibility, those we spoke to about such change expressed concern over heavier reliance on remote technologies with 68% fearing people would feel less engaged with their company as the workplace became more remote, less team orientated and more impersonal.  This is a threat that smart businesses and educators should be addressing.

At Epson, we have introduced a programme dubbed ‘Ten weeks of training’. This is not only to support employees who are working remotely with practical advice and wellbeing insights, but also to help remind us of the company we work for, the products we deign and develop, and their place in wider society. These training sessions bring together 100s of colleagues at a time, re-enforcing the company goals and capabilities, and re-engaging and enthusing our teams.

Other informal groups have developed as well, forging social session and ‘virtual pubs’. These groups have helped make people feel less isolated and remind them that they are part of a valued team. I’m sure other companies and education groups are doing similar – both formally and informal.

Ultimately, how businesses, educators and students take on these new challenges will define the winners and losers.  And as Clive Hickman, Chief Executive of the Manufacturing Technology Centre said within our research: “It’s not the technology itself, but how we use technology, that will be the game change.”

About Epson

Epson is a global technology leader dedicated to co-creating sustainability and enriching communities by leveraging its efficient, compact, and precision technologies and digital technologies to connect people, things, and information. The company is focused on solving societal issues through innovations in home and office printing, commercial and industrial printing, manufacturing, visual and lifestyle. Epson will become carbon negative and eliminate use of exhaustible underground resources such as oil and metal by 2050.

Led by the Japan-based Seiko Epson Corporation, the worldwide Epson Group generates annual sales of around JPY 1 trillion.

Article Information



Author profile

Hans Dummer

The world of projection has changed dramatically over the years and I’m proud to head up Epson’s European projector business – the number one projector manufacturer for the last 11 years. I’ve been working at Epson for almost two decades and will be sharing my thoughts on how projectors can benefit your business, whether you’re a teacher, accountant, doctor or retailer, you’ll be surprised how the technology can add value to your company.