Dan Feldstein, CEO and President, Crestron Electronics, Inc.
While the rise in remote work has been widely documented, there is a deeper story as we head into the post-pandemic world that needs attention: the widespread adoption of hybrid work. Poll after poll has reinforced what A recent Gallup poll showedTwo-thirds of the workforce now prefers a combination of options within the office and at home.
It is the duty of every organization – from companies to universities – to accommodate this mix appropriately. While it is not always possible to replicate the experience of working remotely in the office (or vice versa, for that matter), reducing friction for the majority of employees who prefer a combination of in-person and virtual collaboration will improve worker satisfaction, engagement and perhaps most importantly, keep it in current environment. In short, how does the company make the trip worth the trip?
Three essential elements must be addressed to create the right in-office experience: flexibility, fairness, and reliability.
In a mixed workspace, every room, from the smallest designated space or heated office to the largest hall, becomes a valuable space. The need to connect, communicate and collaborate with everyone else on the team requires a unified communications strategy that deploys video conferencing solutions to seemingly every square foot of the organization.
The rise of BYOD — from employees to guests who need to share content with your employees — means that interoperability with a range of solutions is an integral part of the equation.
However, the need for flexibility goes beyond communication. Think about the different types of offerings scattered throughout the organization. Can these boards do double or even triple duty? Think of the screen as a digital signage when it’s not in use for video conferencing, conveying important HR messages, or promoting your organization’s brand.
In spaces where large, high-resolution panels are used (for meeting rooms or training centers), these screens can provide immersive interactive experiences that help increase employee engagement. We’ve seen how these screens capture viewer interest in a retail setting. A corporate office or campus is the next logical step.
the financial value
Giving everyone an equal seat at the table, whether they’re attending a meeting remotely or in person, is a goal that’s been mentioned over and over when it comes to discussions about blended business solutions. Equality provides everyone with exactly the same resources, while equity allocates resources based on the needs of individual beneficiaries.
Think of the most popular view of a meeting from the angle of a remote worker. A person who works from home is often given a “bowling alley” look at the actions: a narrow shot with an unnatural depth of field, making those in the back of the room far away.
One possible solution to this is artificial intelligence that tracks each speaker with multiple cameras, and puts those who contribute to any conversation on an equal footing with everyone else on the screen.
Turning the equation around, think about how personal conversations happen. Heads turn and shapes move somewhere. What advantage do ‘live’ participants have over those who attend the meeting by default? Answer: Presence in the peripheral vision of the collaborator. Multiple screens paired with a proper camera setup ensure that remote workers are always in the field of view of those seated around the conference table.
The element of reliability is much more than just keeping the IT department from getting tired. An employee whose laptop computer can seamlessly transition from the home office to the hot office to the conference room may be happier and more productive. If the employee commits to moving into the office, the employer has to make leadership worthwhile, providing a positive technical experience for personal collaboration.
But again, there are issues outside of connectivity at work here: Does every meeting space in your organization offer a consistent control experience? Can certain aspects of these rooms be automated?
For example, companies looking for an advanced solution might consider automatically adjusting room light and shade based on the content to be served, the time of day, or a variety of other factors. Another potential source of reliability is audio devices that “understand” what needs to happen, given the specifics of any gathering or presentation. And if these major systems had the ability to shut down during a room downtime, they created a situation that stimulates the satisfaction of collaborators and the conservation of resources.
Out of control, a system that can supply data from your network of meeting spaces and devices — and report everything from frequency of use to potential issues (from crashes to license expiration) — can be an invaluable addition to your campus or organization. Nobody wants to make a call to an IT professional once the meeting has started.
Strong security is also critical to your collaboration and control system. The addition of BYOD options, a company’s connection to remote connections, and a host of “vulnerable targets” present opportunities for bad actors. In this way, finding the solution that works best for you can help reduce potential threats while saving money and manpower and preventing heartburn in your C-suite.