New research from Barco highlights changing employee tech expectations.
Covid-19 has brought about a workplace revolution. We’ve witnessed the biggest and fastest shift in working practices in working culture and technology in recent memory.
If 2020 was the year the world and workplace went into lockdown, 2021 is the year to reopen – and reinvent – office working. With 57 per cent of employees we recently surveyed agreeing that meeting rooms will be crucial, businesses need to act fast to satisfy these needs. To set returning employees up for success, companies need to invest in collaboration technologies that allow for innovative combinations of video, smart-screen touch and messaging apps and establish a fully functioning blended hybrid workspace that’s fit for the future.
In the early stages of the pandemic, businesses were solely focused on survival and ensuring work could continue in a remote setting. With virtually no warning, remote working came with its fair share of challenges. Many struggled to get to grips with foreign technology and had to do so alone without the face-to-face support of IT teams.
Our survey found that 49 per cent of employees felt that remote collaboration did not come naturally. As a result, key collaboration features such as polling, breakout rooms and other brainstorming techniques – which could have led to higher-quality meetings – were not fully utilised. This year, with the end of the pandemic in sight, employees are starting to make the most of the technology and are relying on their workplaces to be well equipped: an overwhelming 88 per cent of our respondents are expecting office technology to make meetings better as they transition back. As a result, better quality collaboration is taking place and the focus now is meaningful engagement and adapting this to include within the office.
The evolved office
Businesses are turning their attention to the challenges this new era of collaboration brings, and how they can ensure workers feel comfortable using this technology. Questions about whether standard meeting rooms will be used for spontaneous and ad-hoc hybrid collaborations are being raised and whether employees can use their own devices in any room; indeed, 71 per cent of our respondents prefer to host office-based video calls from their own laptops. Video conferencing solutions will be a vital component, with 77 per cent of respondents believing meeting rooms need to be equipped with this technology. Employers will need to meet the expectations of their employees to make for a seamless and enhanced experience. One size no longer fits all, and the best businesses will be those that allow for employee choice and device preference as they reconnect and collaborate within the organisation.
The focus is very much on creating hybrid meeting environments that enable people to focus on the discussion. It will no longer be acceptable for remote participants to feel left out of proceedings; technology must bridge the gap, providing a more immersive experience for remote participants through superior quality visual and sound offerings.
The focus in 2021 will be on employee engagement and inspiring teams since this will become the biggest tool in maintaining productivity – critical for keeping profit levels high.
Securing the future
With employees returning to the office there’s an expectation that they’ll be able to continue to use the conferencing solutions they are most comfortable with, and the onus is on businesses to give them the flexibility and tools they need to be successful.
The good news is that upgrading your meetings is now much more cost-effective. Flexible wireless conferencing solutions such as Barco ClickShare are providing vendor-agnostic, scalable (as they work with existing AV systems) and intuitive solutions that are increasing employee productivity and flexibility. They enable employees to seamlessly move from one meeting environment or conferencing platform (such as Zoom, Webex or MS Teams) to another without sacrificing valuable time or results. “Bringing Your Own Meeting” (BYOM) to the table is something 71 per cent of employees would prefer.
The challenge for businesses will be to provide the freedom of remote working without sacrificing human connection. Significant investment in advanced collaboration technology, however, will foster the connectivity and engagement needed to satisfy and motivate all parties.
A post-pandemic world has given businesses the opportunity to realise the potential of this new hybrid working environment and new collaborative tools will support a workforce to achieve their full potential.