In my last blog post, I talked about the need to maintain the equity of experience we’ve been enjoying while working remotely and how that newfound equity could be threatened without a proper hybrid workplace strategy that reimagines our workplace designs and daily operations. However, there’s another challenge to our hybrid future of equal importance: the user experience.
In the “before times,” a typical cry from corporate office denizens was that meeting room technology was too difficult to operate and often unreliable. Sure, there were many properly designed, robust spaces out there, but many–if not most–were lacking in user-friendliness. However, other than complaining about it and waiting for a renovation project to deliver a fresh new workplace experience, there wasn’t much the average worker could do except to accept the rooms and learn to make them work as best as they could.
Enter the pandemic where we’ve collectively made billions upon billions of video calls from our personal devices from our dwellings. Suddenly, after a brief immersion period of learning these platforms, we started to say, “Hey, this ‘AV stuff’ kinda works.” Sure, we missed socializing with our friends in the office and after work, but at least we could get connected often and quite reliably. We had begun to build a hybrid workplace strategy, often without even realizing it.
One reason “AV” became easy during the pandemic was we reduced the many variables associated with meeting spaces in the office like poor acoustics, screens that are too small, and complicated user interfaces. We largely worked from one or two spaces in our dwellings with the same simple setup each day. And we’d click on the one-button-to-join links in our meeting invites and, voila, we were connected.
When we begin to migrate back to the workplace, we need to take the positive aspects of that experience from those billions of meetings and mimic them, to the greatest extent possible, in the new hybrid workplace strategy. There are several methods we can use to accomplish this task.
First, we should recognize that the laptop/tablet has become the center of our meeting experience. We call this “bring your own conference” or BYOC wherein you carry the conference with you into each meeting room. The challenge in the past with this model was the trickiness of connecting your personal device via USB to the meeting room equipment (namely cameras, displays, microphones, and audio processing equipment) required due to the size of these spaces. However, new wireless gateways from companies like Mersive and Barco evolved during the pandemic to allow you to walk into a meeting room, connect to that room’s systems quickly and conduct your meeting effectively. That’s half the battle towards implementing a functional hybrid workplace strategy.
The other half of the battle of executing a hybrid workplace strategy is to address the user experience to manage all the equipment in that room. Taking a step back for a moment, it’s interesting that we use our smartphones to navigate nearly all of our daily life except when we go into the office. In the “before times” phones were largely inert in the office except to send text messages, make phone calls or check emails during lunch. It’s time for a change.
The good news is there are advances in that world as well. New technologies from companies like Crestron and others allow you to pair your phone to any room and control that system simply from your personal device. In this way, we can “keep it simple” and provide you with only the controls you need for your meeting and nothing more. Similarly, workplace apps have grown in popularity since the pandemic and now allow you to access a host of workplace amenities like booking a room ordering food, or request support with a few easy clicks.
At 360 we understand the challenges coming everyone’s way with hybrid work. We want to make the experience of coming back to the office a delightful one where you find it worth your time to get back on that interstate or subway train to get to the office. Hybrid is likely with us for the foreseeable future. Let’s build a hybrid workplace strategy that works for us so we can enjoy the best of both worlds and win the future.