I guess that's a wash, but a net-positive for efficiency.
Enter the pandemic, and now we can't be near each other. Technology has helped keep things going, and as some speculate, we may have just hit the new normal.
If you are not fighting anything, why drive an hour away, pay to park, and sit there when your part only takes 5 minutes? For most probate proceedings, scheduling conferences, etc., online hearings are excellent. You don't get yelled at for working while you wait, and you can dress like you're an anchorman, as no-one sees your bottom half (hopefully. We have all seen the horror stories and don't leave your camera or mic on when you go to the bathroom).
For uncontested matters, I hope the online option is here to stay.
Anything that's not friendly is borderline impossible online. Exhibits, reviewing documents, objections, reading the room...you just can't do it well. The Courts have tried, but its just not there yet, and obviously we can't have virtual jury trials without going full virtual reality, which we are not ready for either.
If I'm asking some tough questions, and the bad person on the other side doesn't want to answer them... "sorry, I've got a bad internet connection...I can't see what you're talking about...I can't hear you..." and its just a clown show.
The courtroom practice of law is a very intimate, personal, experience. You have to be there. And if you're a face on a screen, you're just not there.
For most of the pandemic, I liked Zoom. All trials hit pause, it was a good reset, and you could still get some things done. Now that we are (hopefully) getting back to a more normal world, the lingering effects of online meetings are making things more complicated. Hopefully we can either get back to normal, or technology will catch up and get us closer to the real thing.