Hybrid work, once considered an optional benefit to offer employees, is here to stay. According to a 2021 report from Accenture, employees who used a hybrid work model during the global pandemic experienced better mental health, developed stronger work relationships, and were more likely to feel positive working for their organizations. Eighty-three percent of these employees identified a hybrid workplace as being optimal in the future.
When team members begin remotely joining work conversations and meetings as part of a hybrid work model, they rely on the right audio and video solutions to hear what's being said or to see how their in-office colleagues are interacting with one another. Background chatter or the sound of someone placing a mug on a table might not prevent colleagues gathered in person from hearing, for example, but their remote colleagues will likely struggle to follow the conversation without the right technology in place. Without high-quality video connections to their coworkers, hybrid workers may also struggle to build the rapport necessary for smooth workplace relationships.
Although it might seem like a simple video camera and microphone setup would easily solve these problems, not all audio or video technology is suited for a hybrid work model. Some audio solutions can't sufficiently cancel out background noise in meeting rooms, and some video solutions can't clearly display a whole room — and everyone in it. In addition, what works well for one type of meeting space or team may not be ideal for another.
Businesses can create and sustain a successful hybrid work model by choosing the videoconferencing solutions that meet their specific needs. For example, huddle areas and medium-sized meeting rooms — which are becoming more commonplace as in-office employees request flexible collaboration spaces — often benefit from user-friendly, all-in-one conferencing solutions. People in the office can connect using a USB cable, launch a meeting with a few clicks, and welcome their hybrid colleagues to the meeting. With less time spent fumbling around with complex audio and video hardware and software, teams can focus on the tasks at hand and make the most of their time.
Larger spaces, by contrast, perform better with fully integrated conferencing solutions that include echo-cancelling features, loudspeakers, and ceiling microphones. Hybrid workers can fully hear what's being discussed, and their in-office counterparts have the freedom to move about naturally without worrying if they're close enough to a microphone. These solutions can also support popular unified communications platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet, allowing businesses and external partners to collaborate using the tools they're already comfortable with.
Of course, teams must be able to access these meeting spaces when they need them to make the most of their benefits — and these conferencing rooms will be in high demand as hybrid and work-from-home arrangements are normalized. Hybrid workplaces will require systems for reserving these specifically digitally-equipped meeting rooms, whether through online or in-person booking tools. Businesses can optimize the usage of these meeting spaces by analyzing the data from the booking systems to spot patterns in how employees use them.
According to the same Accenture report, 40% of workers say they could be productive whether onsite or remote. They need the right resources to be able to do so, however. One necessary ingredient for success is a business that is digitally mature and uses the right tools to drive employee innovation, collaboration, and mobility. Many companies have already significantly transformed their digital solutions with the rise of remote workers. They will find the right audio and video technology essential for creating productive hybrid workplaces now and well into the future.