It’s clear that hybrid working is here to stay, with many businesses exploring how best to sustain the new reality of work and maximize employee engagement. Although businesses continue to grapple with figuring out what remote working means for them, at least we know it’s clear the days of going into an office five days a week are long gone.
Now, as we inch towards 2023, the impetus has fallen on how best to engage employees, some of whom may be struggling to truly connect with each other, as well as partners and customers. Brian Mignault, senior director for smart collaboration and solutions at Lenovo, tells TechRadar Pro the most significant elements of any hybrid work culture include flexibility and functionality.
“I live here in Raleigh, North Carolina,” Mignault says. “Lenovo has campuses in the Research Triangle Park, which for me with traffic could take 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes to make it home in the afternoon. Instead of sitting in traffic now for an hour-and-a-half a day, I have an opportunity to take my children to school, or to exercise, or pick them up from school at times.
“That flexibility has improved my life and given me an opportunity to do things differently. But I also have an opportunity to be more productive and more functional in my role on a daily basis as well.”
Where many hybrid workers struggle, Mignault included, is the way meetings can stack up throughout the working day. These might start at 7:30am and go into the early hours of the evening, he continues. While there’s no silver bullet, the key lies in making the meeting experience far more intuitive, seamless and engaging – with technology helping to generate parity between in-person and remote meetings.
It’s something Lenovo identified four or five years ago, with the rise of hybrid work further highlighting the need to invest in enhancing the meeting experience and making it truly immersive. “Think about the days of the conference room where you walked into a room, and there might have been an audio puck that sat there in the middle of the table,” he says, “You know who didn’t get a chance to really participate in that meeting? The remote employee that was outside of the room that nobody saw.”
Now, Mignault suggests the industry is in the midst of a major revamp of the conference room, the meeting structure and the future of work itself. Hybrid work, the number of days spent in the office and even the specter of a four-day working week are all part of the conversation. When you look further into the future, you start considering different technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) and how these can be incorporated into improving the hybrid work culture.
Guaranteeing a sustainable shift to hybrid working, however, won’t come without its challenges, with security a major consideration. It’s a concern Lenovo’s been discussing in-depth with its partners Intel® and Microsoft.
“If you look at Intel technology, from a vPro perspective, that’s a big part of our platform that we have with our ThinkSmart solutions here at Lenovo,” he says. “Intel is one of our most important partners in all aspects of our portfolio here at Lenovo, but if you look at our collaboration solutions, it is built on Intel architecture, and Intel vPro is a really important technology for me when we look at our software stack and how we manage conference rooms.”
An example of the technology in action centers around deploying patches to a conference room, or being able to tell whether or not a conference room is being utilized effectively, and how often it’s being used. Mignault leverages the ThinkSmart Manager software, powered by Intel vPro technology, to this end.
“In my view, when you think about solutions that are going to benefit customers in collaboration, I want folks to think about one thing – and that’s simplicity – because it can get complex really, really quick,” he says.
To hear our full conversation with Lenovo’s Brian Mignault and learn more about how to use the latest technologies to build a sustainable hybrid work culture, watch the video above.
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