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How tech is redefining the workplace

Till Gotterbarm, product management and strategic partnerships EMEA, at Avocor, discusses the impact of technology on our future workplace

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has set many businesses the challenge of redefining their workplace into a home/work hybrid. Many organisations have turned to online collaboration tools to help make this transition. However, the sheer proliferation of different solutions, platforms, abilities, and business needs, has left many businesses at a loss to specify the most appropriate solution.

However, the good news is that creating business solutions that are adaptable, designed to enhance collaboration and deliver business benefits is certainly possible, as long as several trends and overarching themes are considered to best suit the new workplace needs.

While the option to be remote will still exist for many companies, in-person collaboration continues to be the benefit that employees miss most about the office. According to a survey by Microsoft on hybrid work, more than 65 per cent of those surveyed are craving more in-person time with their teams to collaborate. The new workplace requires a digital-first enterprise that seamlessly supports the way that teams work, meet, and connect – from anywhere.

At the same time, employees have also acknowledged the benefits of physical workplaces and offices that are harder to replicate virtually – one of them being the interpersonal connections and relationships they are able to forge in person.

With these considerations in mind, leaders developing a digital transformation strategy for the return to the workplace should focus on space design and technology that supports flexible collaboration, from wherever their teams are working. Leaning on physical office space for in-person collaboration – whether they’re small group brainstorming sessions or larger, stand-up meetings – will become more important than ever before.

Employees should be able to move from each style of work fluidly, whether they’re in a conference room in the office in the morning and at home working after the school run in the afternoon. Collaboration and UC technology can enable this seamless transition by replicating the in-person experience through video display technology, and vice-versa.

Wherever they are based, employees should benefit from the same meeting equity and interactive UC tools can deliver by bringing remote works, colleagues and team members into the same room, with the same functionalities, regardless of location. For example, employees should be able to walk into any workspace, wherever it is, and get to work collaborating with fellow team members without a lot of set-up time. Features like the ability to show cloud-based real-time annotations in a meeting with (and from) everyone on a call and then saving and sending the meeting’s ideas and edits make it easy to connect in-person teams with those working from home. It also fosters a sense of connectivity by eliminated siloed conversations and meetings that are happening in-person and opening the possibilities of how teams must work today.

In the last year, workplace software and platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack, and Google Meet have all faced a boom in adoption. Ensuring compatibility and compliance with all of the tools that their teams are using is essential for business leaders to keep both productivity and employee satisfaction high.

Some of the common challenges with rolling these changes out include an assurance that the installed technology will work seamlessly with an enterprises’ existing OS and applications, that it will be totally secure and that it will be easy-to-use for their entire employee base, including those who are not stationed within the main office.

There are also logistical challenges around system design and choosing products that cut down on the number of devices you have in a meeting room or huddle space. Decision-makers should therefore look for all-in-one displays that feature audio/video capabilities, embedded cameras, and a full suite of native support for all the tools and platforms that employees use across the enterprise.

Analytics and data have always been an important driver in decision-making for the enterprise, but with the return-to-work post-Covid, they will become even more critical to ensuring both operational efficiency as well as ensuring employee comfort and confidence. Commercial real estate and office space are at a premium, from the basic cost-per-square-foot to the amount it costs to manage those spaces. Now, with the rise of remote and hybrid teams, companies are looking to invest in the most prudent tools that enable communication and collaboration from anywhere.

Workspace intelligence analytic solutions built into workplace hardware such as meeting room displays allow enterprise decision-makers to take immediate action to re-evaluate meeting room, UC hardware and software ROI, as well as guide future planning.

The pandemic has put an emphasis on the large impact that digital transformation and strategy plays in an overall organisation’s business implementation. Even for organisations that are still making decisions on when and how they will return to the physical workplace, it is important to think ahead at how it should be executed, and the role that technology can play in doing so. During the initial 12 months of the pandemic, organisations were focused on digital enablement for workers in their home offices (provision of laptops, webcams, etc), however, there is now a surge to also focus on the office spaces – having to make the link back to those digital personal devices to in-room shared interactive devices to better benefit from room-scale productivity.

Planning a digital transformation strategy now that encompasses the multi-faceted needs of the new workplace will position leaders and their organisations to have the best chance of success, business continuity and employee satisfaction.