Designing an environment for hybrid work
Hybrid working models are set to be the ultimate choice for productivity and efficiency in the new digital age. Combining the flexibility of remote work with the opportunities of in-office interactions, hybrid solutions provide the best of both worlds. However, many companies will need to consider how they can design the most effective hybrid working environment before they can reap the benefits.
Going forward, companies large and small will be turning to channel partners and resellers to help them design the ultimate hybrid working environment. After all, it’s the channel with the potential to take various dispersed communication and collaboration tools and convert them into a unique case-driven solution.
Here are just some of the steps likely to be involved in the construction of effective hybrid working environments.
Exploring a Variety of Meeting Spaces
Hybrid work environments will demand a significant reconsideration of the way we meet and collaborate. For a while now, companies have been turning to tools like Microsoft Teams and video conferencing to stay digitally connected. These tools will continue to define hybrid work going forward, allowing people to connect, without worrying about safety issues.
Huddle room spaces might become single-person meeting environments for professionals giving large broadcast style presentations to clients and colleagues. Mid-sized and large meeting rooms will need to be more spread out to suit social distancing, paving the way for a new kind of AV demand. Many companies will need to ensure that their video and audio systems can automatically frame faces and capture voices anywhere.
The new meeting room will focus more on hygiene, safety, and making group conversations feel natural, even when people are separated. The increase of remote workers also means that virtually all meeting spaces will need to be video–enabled. For most organisations, video is no longer an option for good communication; it’s essential.
Make Set-Up Simple
Today’s hybrid workforces will likely have multiple meetings to deal with in a single day. If employees are working together on digital whiteboards and through video conferencing tools, they don’t have time to wait for an expert to come and set up meeting environments for them. Now that employees are growing increasingly accustomed to common meeting tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, Bring Your Own Meeting Rooms are growing more popular.
Business leaders may prefer to set up flexible meeting spaces where staff members can simply walk in, attach their laptop or smartphone, and get to work immediately. Any of the technology required for collaboration, from whiteboard tools to VR systems, also need to offer plug-and-play functionality for immediate and convenient set-up.
To make collaboration more natural and seamless, it may also be useful to offer training to team members on how to use the digital technology they’ll rely on each day. Keeping people aligned on the same tech reduces the risk of data silos and knowledge gaps in a hybrid space.
Implementing Touchless Technology
One of the benefits of the hybrid working environment, is its ability to reduce risks in the post-pandemic world. Fewer people in an office means lower risks of diseases and contamination spreading. However, any touch-focused systems will still represent some threat. Many channel partners in the hybrid environment will need to help their customers take advantage of touchless solutions.
In the meeting room environment, this could involve teaching users how to use gestures to respond to meeting statements, rather than touching a button. It could also involve everyone logging into their Teams meetings from their smartphones, so no-one has to share any hardware. Touchless office solutions go far beyond collaboration technology too.
An intelligent system can automatically count the number of people in an office, check who isn’t working a mask, and even examine the atmosphere of the same. Voice-enabled assistants can find information for employees, issue orders for equipment, and arrange to book a meeting room on an employee’s behalf.
The job of the channel partner in this environment will be to introduce touchless systems that help to bring remote and in-office teams closer together, without compromising on safety. It may start with something as simple as voice-activated tools, and progress to include IoT, artificial intelligence, and computer vision.
Security Must Come First
As many companies learned during the sudden shift to remote work, employees working in different locations does lead to more security risks and challenges. As we continue to embrace the future of hybrid work, companies will need to consider their approach to safety carefully. Cybersecurity and data privacy policies will need to be implemented for all workers.
For remote staff working from home, it may be essential to introduce things like VPNs and two-factor authentication for safer authentication practices. For teams using meeting tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, strategies will need to be implemented to control the flow of data and reduce access. Many meeting room software solutions are already evolving to strengthen security.
Collaboration tools now come with access to more admin controls to ensure that only the right people can access certain pieces of information. Tools in the hardware world can also be enhanced by intelligence to upgrade security. Biometric scanners can ensure that only the right person can log into a meeting or start a presentation at any given time.
Companies will also need to work with channel partners on strategies for storing information. How will data sovereignty be managed in a world of dispersed employees? How can teams ensure that sensitive data is protected?
Implement Analytics for Constant Improvement
For many companies just approaching the hybrid work environment for the first time, the next step is going to be a learning curve. Just like the pandemic showed many companies how to thrive in a remote environment, the new age of work will take some getting used to. Fortunately, workplace analytics and reporting tools can provide helpful insights for agile growth.
With the right reporting and analytics strategies, companies can gain insight into their employees’ preferred meeting spaces, peak collaboration hours and more. You can get an insight into which tools are used the most, and even gather feedback from employees directly to get advice on what needs to be installed next.
Channel partners can work with their customers on a long-term strategy for growth.