The world is slowly emerging from the largest remote business continuity exercise of all time. And most organisations fared pretty well. A frenzy of investment in cloud services, unified communications gear and endpoint devices kept the corporate ship afloat. Now comes the tricky bit. Those same businesses need to think more strategically about how to support the evolution from remote to hybrid working. In so doing, they must pay equal attention to those in the office and staff working from home (WFH). And they must ensure these employees are not only productive, but that they also feel valued, included, and supported.
In short, organisations must deliver meeting equality across the board – to connect their people, technology, and spaces. It will demand cultural and process change, of course, but also investments in the right tools. This is where ISE 2022 comes in: as a showcase for the latest office technology, it offers an exciting glimpse of the future of work.
You’ve no doubt heard this before, that the pandemic has changed the way we live and work forever. This offers organisations new opportunities, but also portends new risks. How have things changed? First, in the shift to a more flexible working culture. Our own research shows that 69% of hybrid workers from across Europe and the Middle East have now shifted from the 9-5 to ‘anytime working’. This is helping to improve work-life balance and empower employers to get the best out of their staff.
However, the pandemic hasn’t always driven change for the better. Over half (58%) of those same respondents feel they’re now unable to switch off from work, as the lines between being ‘always on’ and ‘anytime working’ are blurring. Many are also worried that WFH will impact their career development, reduce learning opportunities with peers and senior colleagues, and even that they could be paid less or discriminated against in other ways.
Hybrid working should offer the best of both worlds: opportunities for staff to collaborate and innovate in-person, but also the flexibility to work remotely from the employee’s preferred location and enjoy those work-life benefits.
Delivering true meeting equality must start with culture. Equality of opportunity and experience for all staff is a message that must permeate every part of the business, from the top-down. It means recognising that the ‘always-on’ culture many businesses have allowed to flourish during the pandemic is actually harmful to staff and long-term productivity. Employers should begin by setting clear boundaries to mitigate the risk of staff burnout, and ensure all staff are empowered to share their ideas with confidence – wherever they are.
Technology can play a major role in promoting greater inclusion and equality – delivering a consistent, seamless, and professional experience regardless of location. However, organisations first need to understand their employees’ personas and working modes for this to be achievable. By identifying their individual personas – such as the office collaborator, the flex worker, and the road warrior – leaders can ensure their workforce has the correct tools and devices to maximise productivity wherever they choose to work. This might include supporting home workers with professional-grade headsets, desk phones and personal video conferencing devices. And fitting out meeting rooms with high quality audio video (AV) equipment for seamless collaboration between all participants, those in the room or joining remotely.
Take noise as an example. Noise is a legitimate concern for many, particularly for those younger workers that are new to the workforce or a new environment. In fact, research shows that 56% of workers are concerned that background levels in the office will make them less productive. To address this, organisations need to provide employees with the right technology. That’s why we offer not only AI technology to help eliminate background noise during video meetings and sharpen image quality but also a wide variety of ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) headsets that ensure that the user’s voice is the only thing that is being heard on the other end.
ISE 2022 will be the perfect place to see, demo and interact with these solutions, and many more, under one roof. It’s where the AV community comes to witness the workplace of the future in action – and to network and share ideas on what works best. The coming 12 months will be an exciting time for the industry as hybrid work becomes the new reality for global organisations. Those who remember the key tenets of meeting equality as 2022 unfolds will undoubtedly be in the driving seat.