During this coronavirus lockdown, it seems the entire world has gone online for work and school. Even the farm animals. Yes, you heard me right. An animal sanctuary in Silicon Valley called Sweet Farm, founded by owner Anna Sweet, is allowing people to pay for a llama, goat, or other farm animal to tune into their video conference calls for $65 – $250, depending on size of group and length of call. The actual project – called Goat 2 Meeting – was developed to help the non-profit animal rescue sanctuary recover lost revenue since COVID-19 lockdown orders.
It seems that the idea has been catching on. As a Business Insider article reports, over 300 calls to the farm were requested to date. Tech start-ups, Forbes 500 companies and even a law firm have invited four-legged guests to occupy a face square in an online meeting.
These are strange and unexpected times, and this pandemic has created opportunities for a new normal involving online innovation in the way small businesses and services are offered. Take for example, my Orange Theory fitness classes. Up until mid March, I was driving a few miles each day to enter a large studio filled with up to 40 members, top of the line gym equipment, a pumping sound system and a motivating fitness trainer. Now, my living room containing a yoga mat, free weights and a smartphone has become my workout studio. Along with thousands of other members around the US, I click on the company App, and sweat to virtual training videos.
As this transformation to a “new normal” continues, I expect a trend in requests to help businesses bring their products and services online like never before. This means that there has never been a better time to offer the public ways to safely work and play in their own space. I believe we will see long term upward use trends in online tech for not only business and public school video conferencing, but also mental health counseling and training courses in the areas of fitness and hobbies.
Social distancing has created a society where home has become the safest haven, and good health is prominent in the public mind.
This trend is already visible with companies such as Airbnb, who just created a section of their website called Airbnb Online Experiences. These are live, interactive experiences from hosts with specific expertise from across the globe. A closer analysis of their course selections reveals some incredibly unique and creative offerings including:
- Tango Concert with Latin Grammy Nominee (Argentina)
- Concert from Iceland (Iceland)
- Sangria and Secrets with Drag Queens (Portugal)
- Cooking with a Moroccan Family (Morocco)
- Meditation with a Japanese Buddhist Monk (Japan)
- Join a Rollerskating Dance Party (US – Brooklyn)
- Unleash the Inner Vixen -burlesque dance class – US)
- Luca and Lorenzo, our Family Pasta Recipe (Italy)
- Intro to Flamenco with Spanish Dancer (Spain)
- Virtual Visit to an Animal Sanctuary (US)
- Ricotta Cheesemaking in Sonoma (US)
- Lessons from Apartheid (South Africa)
- Making the Perfect Chinese Steamed Bun (Singapore)
- Practice Yoga with an Olympic Champion (UK)
As for me, I’ll be taking a literary writing course entitled “Write Inspired by Intuition” today with a five star host from Los Angeles, involving six other online attendees from around the globe. It’s a brave new world of online sharing, and I’m excited to experience it.
Where will your online journey take you?