By Paul Clark, Senior Vice President, EMEA, Poly
Before the pandemic, changes to the traditional office were well underway. Cubicle farms had been transformed into open-plan layouts, while technologies such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other similar tools had started emerging. This past year has served as an extended experiment for organisations as they tested out the best, most efficient ways to work remotely, or to balance the hybrid work setups. Offices are here to stay. But now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased in the UK, businesses must undertake a brand-new experiment: how do you bring the same experience to hybrid workers as those who will be in the office?
The answer to equalising the experience between hybrid workers and those in the office lies in ensuring productive, meaningful connections that build the same engagement and trust associated with face-to-face meetings. Ultimately, this can only be done by adopting seamless technology that can bridge the gap and ensure a total equality between all employees.
Here are four ways organisations can achieve this.
1.Adopting premium audio to ensure focused discussions
Whether employees are working from a noisy office, a busy café or at home with children or pets, there is a constant stream of distractions that can inhibit meeting participants from fully focusing on virtual meetings.
There is no option to lean in closer to hear the person speaking better, and frantically turning up the volume may make the voices of participants louder, but it won’t block out background noise.
By investing in quality headsets with Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) technology, background noise can be blocked out both for the user as well as other meeting participants on the audio or video call – it is about inclusive experiences and productivity. This can help employees stay focused and immersed in a meeting, resulting in a more productive and seamless experience. Good quality headsets also help to ensure that users’ voices can be heard with perfect clarity, making sure their contributions come across loud and clear to other participants without background noise overshadowing them.
2.Virtual meetings with employees should be interactive
Organisations must create virtual meeting environments that promote collaboration between all participants, enabling reviewing documents, and working on ideas to be done as a team in real-time.
By encouraging spontaneous meetings to happen via video, ideas can be worked on by employees as soon as creativity sparks. This means faster decisions as teams can review, discuss, and consider multiple aspects at the same time – in turn leading to more interactive and productive virtual meetings without employees’ location impacting how they communicate and collaborate.
3.Provide technology that can integrate effortlessly
Compatibility shouldn’t be an issue when your workers are looking to communicate with customers, partners or anyone outside of the business. For example, it’s wrong to assume that everyone will be using the same video conferencing set-up, so make sure that the platform your business is using can integrate with the full spectrum of unified communications and collaboration technologies.
Premium conference phones will incorporate multiple audio and video applications, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Amazon Chime and more, all through the same slick touch interface. Likewise, premium video conferencing bars and headsets also emulate this approach, with native apps built-in for one-touch access to calls.
4.Image quality shouldn’t be forgotten
Non-verbal and visual cues, such as body language and facial expressions, are critical to human interactions. So businesses mustn’t compromise on video quality in virtual meetings.
By adopting low-quality cameras, images will appear grainy or pixelated to other attendees, looking even worse on larger screens. Organisations must make sure remote workers, huddle rooms and small office spaces are equipped with high-grade cameras and remove the reliance on low-quality laptops. Wherever employees choose to spend their working day, they should be able to present themselves in a professional way and having the right technology will support this. For cameras set up in an office meeting room, features like automatic speaker tracking, which focuses on who is speaking, can allow attendees who join remotely to feel as though they are in the same room.
Remove communication barriers, and be productive wherever you are
Meetings should be effortless, and technology shouldn’t be a barrier to collaboration. Lack of quality communication is a common barrier among hybrid workers with their office colleagues. This results in meeting inequality and can result in a lower performance at work. By providing the right technologies, productivity and communication among employees can be optimised wherever they choose to work.