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‘A complete refocus’: The AV workplace of tomorrow

James Temishe, enterprise product specialist at Clevertouch, speaks to Installation about the AV workplace of the future…

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am enterprise product specialist at Clevertouch. My role involves understanding the AV world, how different sectors use AV and what they’d integrate with in their day-to-day use. We then work together to tailor our solution and deliver the  desired experience across multiple sectors.

I am also available to support businesses as needed with hardware advice, helping with easy adoption of the Clevertouch brand.

What has been your view on how the AV industry has responded to the pandemic, with regard to collaboration at home and in the workplace?
The pandemic has caused a complete refocus for some. All in all, I think the industry has handled it well. Seeing how UC has bridged nicely with AV has been phenomenal. Easy access has been a key word. With many AV solutions accommodating cloud drive access, this has proved a saver for employees and workers.

What can people expect their new workplaces to look like as they start going back to the office?
Though many are keen to go back to their offices, I feel working from ‘the office’ will be different in the new workplace. Open space meeting environments will be used more as staff will have more room to social distance and Huddle spaces will be used a little less. I also think that those who have been ‘afraid’ of technology will be more open to adopt.

Workers will also be looking for the flexibility to be able to work remotely as and when needed, meaning we expect to see an increase in technology refresh as many will reconsider their technology and set ups, asking questions around its ability to adapt to different ways of working as and when needed.

What do you expect workplaces to look like in the short term?
As businesses slowly begin to go back to their offices, caution and safety will be at the forefront of their thinking. We are seeing a small percentage of teams within businesses go into their office at any given time – a handful of people having meetings in the same room etc. That said, it is in times like this that decisions are made for the long term.

Do you imagine this is also how things will look for the long term? Or is the ‘new normal’ something that will continue to develop?
It is likely that things will develop cautiously. We have just been through something profound so we don’t expect a rush back to where things were. I’d like to think that the months of August and September will be times when businesses are working hard at getting the right  technology that is safe and future proofed. From October and November onwards we hope to begin to see things looking a bit more ‘normal’. Of course, we expect that safety and flexibility will always be at the forefront.

Do you expect concepts like virtual hybrid classrooms to become more commonplace?
Virtual hybrid classrooms have proved effective in the last few months – students would have received no education without them. I’d like to think that schools will leave this option open in spite of what progress is made so we expect that it will become more commonplace.

What are the biggest challenges in setting up a workplace/school for effective workplace collaboration?
The biggest challenges in setting up an effective collaborative workplace have always been:

A: A rigid business model: “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it” mentality

B: No time for adoption: Businesses find themselves too busy to train users on new technology so have been reluctant to adopt

What kind of long-term impact will the remote working we’ve seen over the past few months have on large professional gatherings like trade shows? Do you think that mass trade show gathering as we have known them will become a thing of the past?
Trade shows have been a great way not just to showcase technology but meet other professionals. I’m sure that, just as consumers are able to visit supermarkets in large numbers while keeping safe, trade shows will be begin again in the future. The AV industry thrives from trade shows.

How has your job been affected by the pandemic? And What are some of the key things you have learned or discovered about the market’s ability to adapt?
We were very quick to move things remotely at Clevertouch. I have worked from home, showing our solutions and how they integrate with various UC applications. Nothing beats physical contact but it was nice to have an alternative way to work whilst restricted by the pandemic.

Businesses have adapted differently, some forcefully, others thoughtfully. Forcefully when having no other choice but to work remotely; thoughtfully, considering different avenues or partnerships that could compliment, also focusing on trying to future proof technology.

Whether the former or latter, there has undoubtedly been adoption and I look forward to seeing more business thrive in the current climate.