By: Simen Teigre, CEO and Founder of Neat
The COVID-19 pandemic radically changed the way people interact, with video now used by the masses to communicate and collaborate in their business and personal lives. Businesses also recognised that remote work is going to remain a reality moving forward. According to a Frost & Sullivan survey of global IT decision-makers, 93% of business leaders expect one-quarter or more of their employees to work from home moving forward, and many will spend a portion of time at home and a portion at the office. Hybrid work has benefits both for employees and employers, with greater flexibility and agility, reduced expenses, a wider pool of talent, improved employee satisfaction and retention.
Globally, as restrictions begin to ease, many large businesses are taking a phased approach to bringing people back to the office and are in the process of developing guidelines for what their hybrid workplace could look like. Over the next year or so, these guidelines will fall into place and help both employees and employers navigate the new workflows required for effective hybrid work. Several considerations need to be addressed to ensure an effective and productive hybrid workplace, including office space needs, technology requirements, and re-skilling management and workers to ensure smooth communication.
The office of the future will be more of a place of collaboration than it was in the past. Gone are the days of sitting at your desk all day and holding meetings in the boardroom – moving forward, if you’re in the office, it will be to engage and collaborate with peers. As a result, businesses will put a greater focus on creating more meeting and huddle rooms to foster discussion and innovation. Of course, to accommodate a partially remote workforce, these spaces need to be equipped with technology that seamlessly connects office and remote workers to drive collaboration. We have seen with our financial clients that they want to be able to accommodate this hybrid workforce whilst supporting the teams based on-site, such as trading floors, to work effectively with their remote peers. Thanks to new technology one can simply walk into a meeting room, have the video conference automatically start and follow you around the room zooming into the various participants around the table for a personalised feel.
According to Frost & Sullivan, 88% of businesses intend to deploy video conferencing across their organizations by 2022, to support the new hybrid way of work. It’s key to note that to be successful, the video solutions businesses select must be enterprise-grade and must offer both robust features and absolute simplicity to use. People have become confident using video solutions from their laptops or phones at home, so meeting room solutions must be equally easy to use. Plus, to make employees feel safer returning to the office, solutions should have the flexibility to start and control meetings from an individual’s laptop or phone, a central controller, or via voice commands.
Because the return to the office may be concerning for some workers, businesses also need to be sensitive to these fears and put in place the mechanisms to ease concerns. Aspects such as good office lighting, and environmental factors like air quality, humidity, CO2 and VOCs (organic chemicals, odors, scents, etc.) should be considered to ensure the safest and healthiest room environment possible, and its critical that monitoring these criteria is part of a businesses’ roadmap to hybrid-working.
Another consideration businesses should take in deploying a video system is the idea of inclusivity. When everyone worked from home, we all got used to seeing everyone else up close on screen. But when some people are in a meeting room and others are at home, it can be impossible for the remote participants to see and hear everyone in the meeting room equally. To solve that, employers must think about video conferencing setups and tools, such as Neat Symmetry, which restores the balance between people in a meeting room and those who are remote, by individually framing each in-room participant so everyone can be easily seen and heard.
With technology that is in place to support productivity and innovation specifically built for a hybrid workforce, both businesses and employees benefit. Businesses are positioned to be more resilient and efficient while the hybrid workforce can enjoy more flexibility, greater engagement and improved well-being.