By: Colin Riddle, Head of Product Management at CANCOM UK&I
Long gone are the days where we would rush to offices for focus and productivity and leave other facets of life at the door. Now, for many of us, our homes are where we knuckle down, whilst the office has become a place for team collaboration and meetings. A day in the workplace now has more social significance than ever, and can be the springboard for renewed creativity and collaboration.
With 89% of UK employees being happiest with a fully flexible approach to returning to the office, this shift in dynamic means that meeting rooms need a shake-up, so that they are equipped to meet the new expectations of the workforce and can act as an efficient hub for all users.
More integrated software and hardware
Video conferencing software is now the new norm for remote working. However, with some staff now convening in physical meeting rooms whilst others connect from home, businesses will need to pay close attention to how this software is integrated with their hardware.
Meetings benefit from a free-flowing and engaging environment. To achieve this under hybrid working, remote participants will need to feel as involved as their on-site counterparts. Before anything, businesses should ensure that their audio and video is high-quality by fitting meeting rooms with HD microphones, speakers, and monitors. Following this, further tools, such as 360° video should be used to cultivate a shared atmosphere. This will all help remote workers feel more connected to those physically in the room.
Businesses should also look to continue to enhance the overall value of their meetings by utilising meeting recording software and transcription tools. These tools allow for participants to review key points made throughout the meeting, eliminating the need for inefficient catchups around topics that have already been discussed. Naturally, initial investments into high-quality audio and video recording tools produce better results when used in tandem with the correct software.
Collaboration across locations
Collaboration is a vital part of the meeting room experience, and for this, businesses will need to invest in tech that allows workers to share ideas more effectively across various locations.
Microsoft Teams and Microsoft SharePoint have been essential tools for remote workers this past year due to their real time collaboration capabilities. However, for the many people who prefer the office environment, this simply doesn’t compete with traditional whiteboards. Smart whiteboards present a dynamic solution for the new hybrid workplace by enabling team members to more collaborate across several different locations.
Enabling the new office environment
With workplace tech being overhauled, office spaces should also be re-imagined and re-configured. Office managers should consider creating more huddle spaces (keeping COVID compliance front of mind) to maximise collaboration – especially given the inevitable rise in hot-desking. As most people will no longer be working Monday-Friday, businesses will need to best utilise work areas available. These spaces should again be equipped with appropriate tools and technology, so that effective spontaneous group discussions can take place.
Ultimately, the transition to hybrid working brings more of the unknown, and regardless of how strong your investments initially appear, businesses will need to be able to adapt as they discover what works best for their employees, and leaders will see huge benefits from complementing their meeting room solutions with analytics tools. If implemented correctly, these tools allow for an in-depth insight into how meeting rooms are being utilised, and just how efficiently meetings are running. In turn, there is huge potential for analytical tools to enable business leaders to make informed decisions based on tangible data on employee engagement, and make adjustments where necessary.