After a year of forced remote work, employers have learned a lot. One of the main takeaways is that employees don’t need to be in the office all the time—or at all—to be productive. As things slowly get back to normal, many organizations are keeping this in mind and giving employees more flexibility about when and how often they come into the office.
This new hybrid workforce model is good for employee morale, productivity, and retention, but it also requires a new way of thinking about office layouts and technology. Without the right tools, hybrid teams can become disconnected. With the right audio visual and collaboration platforms, your teams can keep working together from anywhere.
Here are some tips and tools for keeping your hybrid workforce connected.
Video Conferencing that Works for Everyone
“Before COVID-19, the workplace was gradually shifting toward collaboration tools like Teams and Zoom. This resulted in reduced AVhardware requirements in most small and medium sized meeting spaces,” said David Albright, Business Development Manager at Legrand. “When the pandemic struck, many people found themselves working from home, which greatly accelerated the shift and forced people to quickly adapt to online conferencing tools. On a positive note, the pandemic increased the comfort level of using one-to-one video. Many people who are working from home now will continue to work from home after the pandemic, so that will be a factor in the future of conferencing.”
One critical factor to drive collaboration and engagement on video calls—for both in-person and remote workers—is adequate audio coverage.
“To make sure remote participants on a conference call can hear everyone clearly—even someone who’s sitting farther away from the microphone—companies are putting more than one microphone on the table or installing multiple microphones in the ceiling,” David Albright said.
Making sure employees have the right tools for their home offices will also help improve the remote video conferencing experience.
“Employees have set up shop in spare bedrooms, dining rooms, lofts, sheds, you name it,” Albright said. “A lot of times the situation is less than ideal because of ergonomics. Poor ergonomics can really put a damper on productivity because it’s just so uncomfortable.”
Companies can help remote workers stay more comfortable and engaged with simple tools like an adjustable arm for computer monitors that frees up desk space and allows for better placement of monitors to alleviate eye strain and muscle fatigue.
“The corporate world has written a new shopping list when it comes to AV technology,” said Stephanie Frey, Channel Manager at Shure . “What we can be certain of is that the requirement for more reliable, higher quality solutions that minimize the disparity between home and office setups will be of greater importance as we move towards a hybrid working model.”
For Shure, that means an increase in requests for soft codec collaboration technology that is compatible with Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
“Our vendor agnosticism in this respect means we can easily integrate with the collaboration platforms our customers’ employees are now using,” Frey said . “With highly flexible and uniquely customizable end-to-end audio ecosystem solutions, we’re able to meet the widest variety of technology and user needs.”
Remote Accessibility to AV Tools
“Let’s define hybrid work as some workers in the office and some working at home,” said Tommy Kopin, Global Engineering Specialist at Kramer Electronics North America. “In this scenario, the AV technology needs to be accessible outside the office walls. If our workers are going to be hybrid, we need our AV to be as well.”
Here are some questions to consider:
- When an employee calls the help desk for assistance getting a meeting room up and running, can someone working from home help them?
- When your technology needs tweaking, can it be done remotely?
- Are your IT technology and services available on the cloud, or locked away on a private network?
Kramer Control is a cloud-based control system that allows hybrid workers to remotely access meeting rooms’ user interfaces and control spaces as if they were there in person, Tommy Kopin said. Kramer Control can also be programmed to automate the functionality of AV devices based on device status, a schedule, or sensors.
“With Kramer Control, all programming can be done remotely and sent to the room over the Internet so hybrid workers can program from home and there will be no need to visit the office when changes are needed,” Kopin said.
Flexible Spaces for Virtual Collaboration
Social distancing requirements for in-person employees mean fewer people can be in your meeting rooms at one time, so many companies needadditional conference spaces. Most companies won’t build more physical spaces, said Tim Koskamp, Field Sales Engineer with Biamp, but there is an opportunity to create virtual spaces for collaboration.
Modena Server from Biamp is a wireless presentation system that allows team members to connect to AV tools wirelessly using their own devices, so they can collaborate with anyone from anywhere.
“If you and some coworkers are in a common space like a lunch room, you can connect Modena to a display and then wirelessly collaborate through the display or even through personal devices like smartphones while staying socially distanced within your own personal technology bubble,” Tim Koskamp said.
Keep Hybrid Workers Connected with Help from PSNI Integrators
As the where and how people work has shifted, the AV requirements of your company are changing as well. PSNI Certified Solutions Providers can help you identify your new technology needs and then help you design an AV infrastructure to meet them.
Ready to get started? Get in touch with your nearest PSNI integrator today.