By Dan Deem
Until 2020, remote and hybrid work arrangements constituted a small fraction of the workforce, mostly comprising freelancers and contractors. Following significant occupancy restrictions and precautions related to COVID-19, studies began showing a dramatic shift in practices and expectations. The rapid growth of working independently at different locations contributed to more than 50% of workers saying they would consider quitting their job if flexibility was not offered, and 63%¹ preferring a hybrid work arrangement².
The good news for businesses is that fostering a flexible work environment can reduce overhead and even benefit productivity through the use of modern conferencing and collaboration technologies. As we move forward, organizations of all kinds will be expected to provide flexible options that enable operational consistency regardless of external or personal circumstances.
The Daily Grind
Much of office work today consists of individual tasks interspersed with meetings that may host dozens or even hundreds of participants from different time zones or continents. For hybrid workers who may host a meeting from their home office one day and a corporate conference room the next, it’s vital that employers provide easy-to-use technology tools that enable fast meeting setup and reliable connections for a wide assortment of devices. Without proper tools, meetings are ineffective.
As this hybrid trend accelerated among workers and employers, technology manufacturers responded by rapidly developing new solutions that can turn any room into a plug-and-play BYOD conferencing space. However, even the phrase ‘plug-and-play’ fails to express how amazingly simple daily conferencing can be using the latest solutions.
Whether at home or at the office, high-speed wireless connectivity is vital for many of our day-to-day tasks. As we’ve grown accustomed to using our own laptops and mobile devices to complete work as necessary, it has fallen on business owners to ensure that each device can simply and safely connect to the wireless network. Considering that up to 64%³ of workers cite hybrid collaboration spaces as being vital to positive in-office experiences, it is critically important to develop easy-to-use conferencing areas that provide reliably high-quality communications.
Deploying in-room hybrid conferencing technologies can help simplify meeting setup and management by giving users the ability to quickly launch video conference calls through platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. With the additional option of using hybrid conferencing solutions to instantly screen share from mobile devices or laptops, this kind of technology empowers office managers and meeting participants to create a variety of meeting and conferencing areas that range from small huddle spaces to executive boardrooms and lecture halls.
The best technologies are ones that operate effectively and efficiently on their own. Ineffective or hard-to-use systems are a major pain point for any organization, as they can interrupt productivity, introduce stress and anxiety, and incur additional maintenance costs or IT attention. Today device-agnostic systems are generally the best prepared to adapt to future protocols and applications and are consequently growing in popularity and use.
A corporate environment in which an in-person meeting participant can easily connect their personal devices with a central display immediately improves the overall experience. Further, corporations can integrate existing displays together across multiple buildings or locations, forming a wireless digital signage network with centralized control that can distribute messaging or be used to broadcast internal meetings.
Maximize Performance, Minimize Cost
When it comes to digital displays, the common perception is that bigger is always better, and that’s true for most basic display needs. Now that the use of displays has diversified to include touchscreen applications such as live annotation, this mantra can lead to systems that are more costly and complicated than necessary for normal usage. While a large touchscreen can have obvious benefits for various use cases, for instance, alternative solutions can deliver the same capabilities using a non-touchscreen display by enabling real-time interaction with personal touchscreen devices.
As different work environments may require different features or capabilities to satisfy specific use cases, facility managers, designers, and tech buyers should evaluate competing technologies to determine which is more likely to continue meeting their needs five years or seven years down the road. This is true for any environment considering implementing hybrid collaboration technologies, from school universities to hybrid offices—and everything in between.
When considering the lifespan and utility of audiovisual technology expenditures, one relatively new factor is the availability of software solutions provided as an ongoing service. These software-as-a-service (SaaS) options generally provide ongoing enhancements to services and capabilities and can help to regulate costs while extending the useful lifespan of integrated hardware solutions. Some manufacturers are even looking into hardware leasing options with periodic upgrades through which customers could ensure they always have the latest tools while maintaining predictable costs.
The advent of remote and hybrid work has introduced us to new opportunities that are changing the way we run educational and business operations. As we move forward, it is critical that technology implementations support the specific needs of users while increasing overall performance and productivity. Through solutions that increase the flexibility and functionality of existing technologies, organizations can be confident that their technology investments deliver impactful returns.
Deem, a U.S. Navy combat veteran, has held leadership roles at major technology companies including Panasonic, Apple, and Oracle. Prior to joining Airtame, Deem was the Senior Vice President of Boxlight’s Enterprise & Government team, responsible for building their go-to-market strategy for North America across their entire product portfolio while implementing distribution, channel, and sales strategies.
¹Gensler Research Institute. (Summer/Fall 2020). “Gensler US Workplace Survey.”
²Ernst & Young, LLC (June 2021). “Work Reimagined Employee Survey 2021: The implications in real estate.”
³Steelcase. (2022). “Global Report: The New Era of Hybrid Work.”