Jan. 20, 2022 - Welcoming a hybrid workforce in the office is a major challenge for companies today. As workers try to find their balance in that blend of remote and in-office work, they return to the workplace and especially the meeting room with high anticipations for collaboration tech. They expect hybrid solutions to be just as flexible, intuitive, easy and of even higher quality as in their home office. Office collaboration technology has become more critical than ever. Businesses continue to invest in tools that increase productivity and maintain a sense of connection between a workforce that is diverse and widespread in its needs and preferences.
The following 4 themes, driven by recent technological developments, will shape conversations in the renewed workplace.
The decline in collaboration and innovation will get the attention it needs
"Working from home can be more productive for people carrying out individual tasks. But every manager I've spoken with says that working from home can damage innovation in the long run." Nicholas Bloom points out that not all impacts of remote work are positive.
If hybrid working is to be successful in the long run, enabling collaboration will be essential. Collaboration is not the exact same thing as productivity. At the start of the pandemic, when home working first began, productivity actually improved. In a study of 2013 Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom had already analysed this phenomenon. The experiment involved employees of a travel agency who were assigned to work from home for nine months, and it saw their performance increase by 13%.
Despite the improvement in productivity, the levels of collaboration have decreased. An employee's productivity boils down to their individual performance, whereas being connected to colleagues is a necessity of collaboration: enabling collaboration is about creating an environment ignited by a sense of sharing. Creative get-togethers or brainstorms are crucial to grow and stimulate new ideas. To bring back innovation and collaboration in corporations and development, companies will need to strive for a hybrid way of working that is as intuitive and seamless as an in-person workplace.
Meeting equity is the new currency
The hybrid work model comes with an unintended divide, as many meeting participants from multiple locations have a hard time to get a seat at the same, virtual table. Face-to-face conversation and discussion are hard to replicate in a virtual way, even as technology evolves.
People want an equal share in meetings, get access to the same tools and content to feel engaged and included. Balancing meeting equity and the integration of technology that prevents remote workers from feeling "left out", is a necessity for enterprises that want to thrive. According to McKinsey research on how inclusion matters, the most diverse companies are more likely to outperform less diverse peers on profitability and financial returns.
As a first prio remote workers need to be equipped with adequate cameras, microphones and video conferencing platforms. In addition, business leaders are recognizing the value of recent, versatile hybrid collaboration platforms to support this transition. These include features like virtual blackboarding and annotation, easy content upload and sharing, and breakout room functionality to remove many of these barriers in meeting equity.
Hybrid will shine a light on employee needs
Today, employees feel empowered to dictate their of own ways of working. Workplace technology is no longer functional, but key to employee satisfaction. Many do not want to leave the routines and solutions that have proven to be successful in the home office when entering the hybrid workplace.
However, recent ClickShare research shows that 71% of employees still struggle with hybrid meetings. They experience stress when they occur technical issues, which even leads to decreased job satisfaction in the long run. This unveils an opportunity for business leaders to go for collaborative solutions that are both intuitive and user-friendly. Enterprises that want to keep and attract talent can thus differentiate themselves by making the right investments in hybrid meeting room to enable virtual engagement and seamless video collaboration.
The best technologies will strive for seamless usability
Setting up videoconferences pre-covid was hard. Employees were struggling with audio & video settings, securing dedicated rooms and navigating cables. Meetings often started too late and participants were left with frustrations.
Today, working remote has proven that technology can make hybrid meetings better. Working with your own laptop, running video meetings from a laptop, being only one click away from your next conference call. Impeccable user experience is crucial, especially when back in the office environment. Employees' laptops should work in perfect sync with room peripherals and allow immediate connectivity and start up as participants enter a meeting room to create an equal level of participation and productivity for all attendees, on-site or remote. Seamless usability will be the standard to which technologies can be measured against.
When it comes to hybrid work, there are no doubt challenges ahead. Times are uncertain and employee needs are in constant evolution. Still, for companies prioritising in collaboration technology and employee experience, the future of the hybrid workplace looks promising.