Workplace technology has changed the way IT directors empower employee productivity and connection. In today's continually changing landscape, new technologies from videoconferencing solutions to collaboration software have enabled a rapid shift to remote and hybrid work arrangements that are here to stay. In fact, Gartner predicts that half of all knowledge workers will work remotely by the end of 2022.
IT leaders can help identify unused or unrecognized workplace technology benefits to increase productivity, improve collaborative experiences, and deliver winning digital customer experiences. Here's a closer look at how you can uncover the most important benefits and help employees get more done through tools, technology training, and targeted reference materials.
The Society for Human Resource Management reports that companies are investing in workplace technology solutions that drive greater productivity and engagement for hybrid teams. Top investments include collaboration platforms (70%), stronger connectivity infrastructure (70%), training (64%), and conference rooms with virtual connectivity (57%). One of the most important technology trends is the dramatic increase of videoconferencing, which studies show increases productivity over in-person meetings.
IT directors often see immediate benefits from workplace technology: increased flexibility, cost savings, and greater collaboration from videoconferencing as compared to traditional conference calls. Technology is powerful — and vast. For many IT leaders, the greatest leaps in productivity come from tapping technologies that play to their particular setup and employee needs.
Consider the case of a sales representative who previously traveled and spent her days on customer sites. Today, thanks to top-tier virtual videoconferencing, she's able to reach more customers in a day and close more deals in a week without leaving her remote office. In another example, a manufacturing company set up integrated huddle points that allow workers to remotely consult on customer issues and support an on-site technical expert. Find success stories that align with your work and goals, and use them as you plan employee technology training.
With the explosion of videoconferencing platforms, many workers who previously eschewed the technology have become proficient users. However, employees still run into audio, visual, or participation issues that can slow down meetings and create a less-than-favorable impression on participants. Some issues may require technical intervention. But providing basic troubleshooting training for platforms can build confidence and quickly resolve issues. In hybrid environments, easy-to-use integrated endpoints and conferencing solutions can empower employees to host flawless meetings with ease.
With a shift to virtual collaboration infrastructure, companies are experimenting with new ways to interact and work together. The Harvard Business Review highlights a number of unexpected benefits to videoconferencing and virtual meetings, including improved polling, better-structured "off-site" meetings, and more constructive brainstorming. Often, employees accustomed to working in nondigital environments haven't been exposed to these opportunities. Introducing employees to these features and sharing suggestions for utilizing them can lead to more productive sessions. Polling can be used, for example, during a town hall to zero in on employee concerns or during a virtual product launch to capture the features that most interest the live audience.
Videoconferencing can be bandwidth intensive, especially if a meeting includes multiple participants, real-time file collaboration, or transferring large documents between devices. IT directors increasingly upgrade their company's infrastructure and devices to take advantage of emerging technologies. Deloitte reports that increased productivity and efficiency is the No. 1 reason IT executives are embracing 5G and Wi-Fi 6. However, many employees are unfamiliar with these technologies, which devices support them, or how to access them. By showcasing the infrastructure improvements and how they can enhance access to collaboration software, videoconferencing interaction, and more, IT teams can elevate performance across the company.
IT directors also can help employees accomplish more by identifying improvements that better leverage technology for their workspace. Features such as two monitors, the right mobility tools, and ergonomics have received significant attention during the past year. Improving audio and visual performance is the next stage of technology improvement. For example, employees who work in multiple environments or who need to find deep focus in a busy hotel or common space can use noise cancelling headphones to tune out distractions or tune into critical videoconferencing calls.
As employees, teams, and customers find themselves spending more time working together in digital environments, preferences naturally emerge for different solutions. Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Zoom all have experienced explosive growth during the past year. Companies are introducing BYOM policies that allow employees to host meetings in the solution of their choice, rather than forcing users to a single hosted solution. IT leaders who develop the capabilities to support multiple virtual environments — and leverage integrated solutions to make transitioning between meetings easy in hybrid settings — can help people find the right platform for the meetings they're hosting.