360 spoke with Iñaki Ortega about the importance of physical interaction and why working from home long-term can only succeed if we already had a strong bond.
The Truth We Had To Face
360º: How has COVID changed your perspective on the future of your business and the industry?
The pandemic is a black swan event, in other words, a highly improbable high-impact event, which revealed that we are more fragile than we thought. Just a few weeks of inactivity and our economy plummeted. Hybrid formats, a mix of remote teaching technology with in-person sessions that ensure the transmission of values and essential contact between people, will be the future of education.
Antifragility As A Solution
360º: Which trends do you think are here to stay, and will change the way you plan to serve your customers?
Nassim Taleb, the author of The Black Swan, provided the recipe to adapt and therefore serve better in the ‘new normal’: antifragility. For a long time, we have fled from fragility because it made us weaker, and we believed it was ideal to be rigid, but Covid-19 has shown us the futility of being rigid. The solution is to be antifragile— to grow in the face of adversity. We need to have the capacity to face fatality, adapt to it, and continue growing. Certain supermarkets, such as Mercadona in Spain, or technology platforms such as ZOOM, provide examples of what it is to be antifragile.
“Without personal contact, it would be
very difficult to be a business school that is actually useful to companies.”
Director Deusto Business School
Our Experience Altered
360º: We learned a lot while working from home - why do you think we should still go to the office?
Absolutely, yes. Working from home will only succeed in combination with a physical presence. Experience in the education sector shows that the performance of participants in Executive Education is greater when remote and in-person sessions are optimally combined. My own experience as a business school manager confirms the above: for me, working from home before the pandemic was a highly satisfactory experience because it happened one day a week; however, when it became an obligation without a physical presence, it became a solution to an emergency, with no satisfaction whatsoever.
Education Requires The Physical Space
360º: What’s the role of the physical workplace for your company, and how does it help your organization to achieve its goals?
Executive education works in two areas: management teaching and research in corporate affairs. Neither is understood without close contact with the managers and companies we serve. To this effect, we teach and have an ecosystem of spaces where we engage with managers. Meeting rooms, design-thinking laboratories, traditional workshop classrooms, areas to gather or share meals, and breakfasts or gardens for inspiring sessions serve to connect, strengthening the bonds we need while working distributed.