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Wooden hot tubs, the new meeting rooms

How often do you chat with a group of people nowadays? Maybe not very often, at least not as often as you used to. Modern technology has many advantages, but it's also made face-to-face conversation less necessary. Take the break room at work - people used to meet their colleagues there and have lunch and sometimes even coffee breaks together. But then everyone got smartphones and suddenly there was no need for people to be social - they could find company on their phone screens.

It's the same at home. If you manage to get the whole family to eat at the same time, it always feels like there's a TV, laptop or telephone in the way of your conversations. We often give up and just cook dinner, send a group text message that it's ready and let everyone pick up their portion and heat it in the microwave.

Even job meetings no longer take place in person, as we have Skype or Teams allowing us to participate from different locations. It's good that technology exists, but worth bearing in mind that it's not quite the same experience - something has been lost.

But let's not give up the fight for in person meetings! We just have to find a new form for them to take place in. One great idea is a wooden hot tub. Gathering a few people in a warm, wood-burning hot tub isn't just pleasant, it's also somewhere where you can't take your phone. It would be damaged by the water vapour and moisture in no time. Even if you've got a waterproof model, steam and water droplets make it impossible to see the screen.

Perhaps the youngest members of your family, who've never experienced a world without smartphones, will discover that it's actually quite pleasant and calming to spend time completely technology-free. But even older people, who might remember a time when phones were stuck in the wall, may need to be reminded that there's something special about using body language and seeing the facial expressions of the people they're talking to.

No matter how fantastic technical development is, we still only have a total of 100% focus available. If we have to divide it between screens, keyboards, speakers and Powerpoint presentations in addition to taking in the room, talking and listening, we will quickly run out of focus. No invention in the world is going to change that. Nothing except the wooden hot tub perhaps, which removes all these distractions. Admittedly we can only see each other from the shoulders up, but that's usually just enough.