How to prepare for hybrid workspaces

video conferencing
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Hybrid working is set to become the future of the workplace. Some say working from home is now becoming the new normal. Today, I would agree with this statement, but as the world gradually opens up, the majority of us will eventually go back to our offices – even if it’s not every day. The return to offices will not happen overnight; it will be a gradual process as Covid-19 cases reduce, and remote working will become a part of common working practice.

Embracing flexible working technology has been critical for organizations during the pandemic, and now is the time to prepare for a new hybrid model, where teams will need to be able to work together both in person and remotely. This means employees will need to be ready to work just as effectively at home or in the office, and management teams need to prepare their workforces and offices for this flexible working arrangement.

This is not necessarily a straight-forward process. We all know that being forced to work from home has caused many professionals to feel isolated, battle with finding work-life balance and experience ‘burn out’ from working longer hours than usual, or juggle home life around work commitments. While breaking up remote working with some time spent in the office and freedom to spend our spare time differently may be a key part in improving this, there is still a risk of imbalance or feelings of exclusion when members of staff have different working habits to each other.

About the author

Rene Buhay is VP of Sales & Marketing for AVer Europe

How do you keep staff on the same page when some are in the office and others are working remotely? For both morale and productivity of staff, it is important that great care is taken when considering what enables individuals to collaborate efficiently with others and have access to the same resources, regardless of where they are working that day. With this new phase of hybrid working, extra considerations for technology can ensure it is an effective and efficient step for business.

Professional standard video conferencing cameras

Continue to encourage the use of video calls rather than just email and chat, so that everyone feels part of the team and morale stays high. While some may be able to chat in person in the office, those at home will need to feel involved in day-to-day activity. To make this a more engaging experience, investing in professional conferencing cameras with 4K imaging, wide fields of view, smart functions that automatically move the cameras to the speaker and voice recognition can make staff feel like they are in the room, wherever they are.

As Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Goggle Meet have become the de facto choice for video conferencing platforms, selecting any new video conferencing hardware that is compatible and/or certified by your preferred platform is critical for effective use and smooth integration.

Premium audio quality

Many of us will have witnessed or experienced issues with microphone quality at some point while working remotely. Remote workers will feel far away from the action if the audio is tinny and static-filled on video calls. It is critical that technology issues like this do not become a barrier for those not physically in the room, not working in the office that day, or simply aren’t close enough to the conferencing system when a team is speaking to remote colleagues.

Investing in high-quality speakerphones that easily connect means that meeting rooms are prepped to pick up all voices, so all are involved in the call and employees are not restricted so much by placement. For those working from home on a regular basis, the use of a soundbar means that their experience is not limited to the audio capabilities of their laptop or PC. Many all-in-one video soundbars have features such as SmartFrame, SmartSpeaker and true WDR to offer a comprehensive conferencing experience.

Instant content sharing

You may be familiar with visualizers (also known as document cameras) in a school classroom or from distance learning experiences this year, and they are great for use in offices too. Packed with a range of features for sharing content easily, visualizers can simplify file sharing and presenting materials, whether it is with individuals in a meeting room or sharing online with remote colleagues.

If you are discussing a document in a physical meeting, you can use the visualizer to share it with those working remotely, providing far more detail than a normal web camera does. Visualizer cameras are overhead, so you don’t have to hold the document steady or struggle to find the right angle with a web camera. Visualizer camera technology is often a considerably higher quality with a greater zoom functionality than a typical web camera, which is great for accurately showing details of prototypes or products to those not in the office.

One of the reasons visualizers are popular in schools is because they are designed to show process and support teaching practice, which can benefit training environments within the workplace. Employees can showcase new techniques or complete demonstrations using the visualizer and functionality to capture images or videos for future use means the content can be reused and shared for inductions and introduction sessions.

There is no doubt that working practices as we know them – and knew them – are going to change as restrictions relax. As experiences around work have changed over the past year, so have expectations or preferences of employees’ working environments and practices. Simple plug-and-play technology will appeal to those companies practicing a hybrid model of remote and office-based staff and be well received by employees that are looking for greater flexibility while still keen to maintain productivity in their roles. Equipment optimized to be used with multiple platforms and in a range of environments will be paramount for future-proofing business systems and processes.

With the right mixture of technology, organizations can ensure that adapting to a hybrid workspace will not cause disruption for business.

Rene Buhay is Vice President of Sales & Marketing at AV manufacturer AVer Europe