By Sof Socratous, VP of Northern Europe at Poly.
Collaboration areas are undergoing renovations as employees begin to return to the office. Businesses have taken note of employees’ preference to split their time between working from home and working in the office. As such, organisations have started to consider how they can boost the total experience for employees visiting the office. This means questioning how spaces work and how technology can bridge the gap between those in the office, and those working from home or another location. By starting to think about this, organisations have got a head start on ensuring workplace equity for everyone – wherever employees choose to work.
But while many have reaped the benefits of hybrid work, it hasn’t been a smooth transition for everyone. Worryingly, our research revealed that a major drawback for workers has been difficulty collaborating, a lack of IT support, and a lack of equipment to enable home working. This suggests that many don’t have the right tools to work effectively outside of the office. It’s now more important than ever that businesses have technology at the forefront of their plans.
Enhancing the space
As hybrid working has become a way of life for many, end users have an expectation of what their experience should be when it comes to collaborating with colleagues. To meet expectations, organisations will need to understand people, spaces, and technology to create the ultimate experience for hybrid workers. No two businesses are the same, so it’s important to recognise how spaces will be used – from collaboration rooms to ‘quiet zones’, or even focus areas. By recognising how spaces are used, businesses can implement the correct solutions to create a seamless experience to meet the needs of their employees.
To get the most out of the workforce, organisations must understand individual working personas, from a ‘flex worker’ to the ‘office collaborator’, to understand how to adapt spaces. For instance, some office-based employees might prefer lightweight devices or headsets that provide comfort over portability. These considerations may sound minor, but should absolutely form any decisions around spaces, particularly as offices can be noisy and busy environments. Our research revealed that many workers are feeling anxious and worry their performance will suffer when working in the office, with 60% thinking they’ll get fed up if their noisy co-workers break their concentration. Because of this, prioritising devices that use active noise cancellation (ANC) to actively block out background noise will be a must. For those who work from home with the hustle and bustle of children or pets in their entourage, this may be a preferred solution too.
Doing so helps workers – whether in the office or at home – have stress-free meetings by reducing unwanted background noise from a large meeting room so that the speaker’s voice isn’t drowned out or distorted by background noise. Whilst small and medium spaces can be use ANC to improve the acoustic fence to ensure that all participant’s voices are heard.
Ultimately, employers that can recognise different working needs, styles, and locations will be the ones to provide their people with the workplace experience they are craving, which ultimately will help to improve the total office experience.
The truth is organisations need to give their workers a good reason to balance their time between the office and home. But they must give people a reason to come in which requires a focus on three key areas – how spaces work, the technology behind them, and understanding how individuals prefer to work. Effective hybrid work can’t be based on only one, it must consider all.
Users are seeking convenience and ease when collaborating with their colleagues, so being able to give them the right technology so they can look and sound their best, goes a long way. Offering these experiences means more employees will be driven to work from the office because the technology will be catered to the space that they’re working in. People can have a seamless meeting without being disrupted by poor quality technology or background noise.
When businesses recognise how spaces work and how technology can create a seamless experience for those in the office, and those working from an alternative location, they can provide an equal experience for all.