Episode 1: Our relationship with physical space

by Yvonne Harris

In this episode of the Welcome to the New Normal podcast we ask, how our relationship with physical spaces is changing? We look at how cinemas are hiring their spaces out to gamers, and the humble telephone booth may have an augmented future. We also celebrate the 5Oth birthday of the email and ask if there’s still life in the old dog.

Listen to the full episode here and find the script below to follow along.


Justine: How is our relationship with physical spaces changing?

Cinemas in Korea, which have been empty due to the pandemic, have started hiring out their auditoriums to gamers looking for lots of space, comfort, and above all, gigantic screens.

Gamers have to bring their own consoles and games, but this has to be the ultimate immersive gaming experience!

Tony: It’s a smart move for cinemas that are running on severely reduced capacities, and with more and more films being released directly to streaming services. That’s why this cinema company, CVC, decided to rent out to gamers, four at a time, who can hire the space for 90$ an hour.

Justine: Now, imagine being able to rent a small booth, a bit like a phone booth, for your meetings and conference calls.

Singapore company Switch has done just that. It’s installed booths in office buildings, shopping malls, hotels, and even co-living spaces…. that they can rent out from $3 an hour.

They’ve got tiny booths for a single person to do their conference calls, and even meeting rooms for four people, which they can pre-book through their app…

Is this a new dimension to the pay-per-sit shared office model on the lines of WeWork?

Tony: You’re not going to create the same feeling of an ecosystem, or shared space, in a tiny little booth…

And given the current situation – and even in normal times, I hope they are well aired, that people don’t eat in them, and that they get cleaned regularly!

But it’s a step up from the Red telephone boxes I remember back in the day in England, which have mostly disappeared… Inevitable, if a bit sad.

Justine: Here in France, telephone booths are taking on a new life!

I’ve seen them in villages where people use them as a place to leave books for others to pick up.

It’s great the way people can change the way they use these small spaces.

Tony: Nice, I like that… A nice low-tech solution! And there’s nothing like the feel of a real book…

Maybe we will see the return of the phone booth, just in a completely different format.

What will they be called? Meeting caves? Chat cabins? Time will tell…


What’s clear is that there’s a huge amount of innovation going on.

The proof of the pudding is in the amount of money that’s being invested.

Research by Gartner points to a vast amount of spending over the past year, which reflects just how much the pandemic has accelerated a shift to new ways of working.

According to Garter’s  “Forecast Analysis: Social and Collaboration Software in the Workplace, Worldwide”  revenues in three market segments – collaborative work management, enterprise social networks. and employee communication software – are set to reach almost $4.5 billion in 2021.

That’s a 17% increase from $3.8 billion in 2020.

The five-year revenue forecast predicts that it will increase to a massive $6.9 billion by 2024.

What stands out for me in this report is that it forecasts that collaborative and social functionality is being more and more embedded into other types of business applications…

Like CRM, HR, and ERP business applications.

According to the report, 65% of enterprise application software providers will include collaboration features in their products by 2025.

Microsoft is already integrating Teams into its Dynamics 365 portfolio.

I could also mention Salesforce, which recently acquired Slack, and wants to integrate it across its CRM apps.


Today’s number is 50, and it’s a birthday!

Love it or hate it, the venerable email is 50 years old!

Yes, That first email was sent by MIT graduate Ray Tomlinson. It was the first message sent from one computer to another, using the @ symbol to separate the user identifier and destination address.

Tomlinson was working for the US Defence Department on a project called ARPANET, or the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network.

ARPANET is the daddy of the Internet that we all use today.

Back in 1971 the network had a grand total of 20 machines…

It’s grown a bit since then!

According to data from Statista, more than 300 billion emails were sent and received every day in 2020!

That’s more than 110 trillion across the course of the year!

The question is, why is the email still so popular?

Our inboxes are clogged up, and it undoubtedly adds to our daily stress…

But there is some comfort in having that unique identifier, and I can’t see people wanting to give up the trusty email.

If you were offered cash to give up email, how much would make it worth it?

A lot, I think…

Well, there’s been some research into this…

A 2019 study found that Facebook users would want $1,000 to log off from the service permanently…

And in 2018, research for The Economist found that people would ask for $8,400 to give up e-mail forever…

Doesn’t sound likely to me, unless they find another identifier for pretty much everything I do online.

I think there’s life in the old dog yet!

Please tune in to our next episode. Leave us a comment and tell us what you think.

You could even send us an email!