• Wednesday , 22 September 2021

AV News talks to Lieven Bertier, Segment Marketing Director Workplace – Barco and Laura Mills, Segment Marketing Manager EMEA – Workplace – Barco about designing to hybrid workflow.

UCN • Which collaborative solutions are the most reliable?

57% of employees believe the meeting room will become the most frequently used office space. And typically, the tech in meeting rooms is updated every 5 years. So from a CIO’s perspective the most reliable technology is the futureproof technology, technology that comes with hardware guarantees and continual software enhancement to guard against new threats, fix bugs and provide an increasing set of features and functionalities that grow with their users. Like Clickshare’s 5-year SmartCare program which comes with all of that, a 5 year warranty for hardware peace of mind, but also the data and analytics that will allow IT decision makers to assess productivity and manage the technology centrally across their full estate.

UCN • Which solutions do users find the easiest to use?

Employees want wireless and touchless solutions, those were at the top of the investment priorities list when looking at out latest research, which complied over 800 responses from a global cohort of white collar workers. And central to all of the tech preferences, is the laptop. In fact, 77% can’t imagine working without it, they also prefer using it to host and participate in virtual and hybrid meetings. At ClickShare we call it Bring Your Own Meeting (BYOM). It was a trend pre-covid, which has been a huge acceleration. Our September 2020 research showed a preference of 56% for the laptop as the preferred device to host meetings, that has soared to 71% in April 2021. It seems logical that employees would want to have one way of starting meetings, both in virtual environments and in the office.

UCN • Which solutions represent the best values to the employer?

Quite simply, the solutions that get used offer the best value for money. Essential to that is selecting technology that focuses on user experience. Creating simple first time user experiences and intuitive advancements for more adventurous users is a necessity for collaboration technologies. From an investment perspective, there is an increasing expectation that the technology should be able to prove its own worth, with advanced analytics to demonstrate usage, regular software updates to improve workflows and cater to new demands. As organisations become more people driven, they are looking to invest in technologies that enable those people. Effective collaboration and sustained engagement are key to an organisation’s long term success, so investing in flexible, agnostic collaboration tools is a key component to that.

UCN • What are you recommending to customers about user adoption and training?

There is little to no generational divide when it came to technology challenges. In a recent survey 49% admitted that remote and hybrid collaboration doesn’t come naturally to them. More importantly, all generations were unanimous in their agreement about one thing, user experience. 81% said easy to use tech could make for better meetings. Which is why at Barco, we concentrate so much of our effort on designing simple, intuitive experiences with ClickShare.

We asked 800+ white collar workers around the globe Can easy to use tech make for better meetings?” 81% said yes. The range across demographics was minimal; 79% for Millennials, 80% Gen X and 84% Baby boomers.

UCN • What level of data is available to maintain the confidence that remote / hybrid working practices are truly productive?

 Employees gradually got used to working remote, often by trial and error and only 1 in 2 employees report having received proper training to enable remote work. Returning to the office now requires shifting that carefully found balance once again: learning how to collaborate in a hybrid team that includes remote as well as in-office team members. The majority of hybrid collaboration will actually take place inside the meeting room. But there’s a catch: meeting rooms are not accurately equipped for hybrid work. 65% of employees struggle with different set-ups in meeting rooms, especially when moving from one meeting room to the next. 48% have trouble to connect to the AV peripherals like display, camera, speakers and mic, not knowing which cable is the right one. The ClickShare experience aims to tackle those exact pain points to allow a one click join from their laptop, just like they are used to at home.

The ClickShare team have been keeping a pulse on employee sentiment towards meetings, collecting thousands of responses to understand whether meetings are getting better or worse. The Barco Meeting Barometer has dropped significantly after one year of COVID. In September 2020, employees were still carefully positive about meetings, resulting in an index of +17. Now, the score has descended to -25, uncovering a growing frustration with virtual meetings in general. This is a key indicator for how people are dealing with the new demands of hybrid work.

UCN • How to you balance the need for productivity with the requirement for the employee to maintain a work/life balance?

Whilst much data points to the employee desire to create more flexible working practices, that doesn’t mean that optimism towards the office is diminishing. In fact, our latest research shows that the return to the office is driven by three essential reasons: the wish for social interaction, higher productivity and more efficient meetings thanks to the available technology. Due to the pandemic, the number of in-person meetings went down from 47% in 2019 to 25% in 2020. Employees anticipate however that once the pandemic is under control, in-office meetings will return stronger than ever with 81% of all meetings being hybrid. In fact, meetings are the biggest reason for coming into the office, even today. When hosting a meeting, half of employees take a trip to the office to host calls in a more professional setting, with less distractions and access to better tech. When it comes to work/life balance its about choice, 85% want to be able to work both at home and in the office, if workplaces can offer the right set of conditions in both environments, both work and home life stand to gain.

 UCN • How do you suggest customers approach Integrating remote technologies?

In the future, 81% of meeting will be face to face or hybrid. Advancements in mobile technology, like 5G, will enable even more effective hybrid meetings, with clearer imagery, crisper audio and facilitate the sharing of ideas and content, ultimately allowing for a more equitable meeting experience, whether you’re in the office or elsewhere.

Surprisingly, it is not only C-level management requesting employees to return to the office, but employees themselves are signalling that they are eager to return. In September 2020, people were still more optimistic about working from home and employees indicated that the ideal workweek would be 2 days at home and 3 days at the office. Today, the desire to work from home has dropped to 1,5 days a week, with employees preferring to spend more time, 3,5 days per week, at the office. If the pandemic has taught us one thing, its that there is no one size-fits-all and no unanimous experience. Clearly people haven’t forgotten how engaging face to face was, but they are also not willing to give up on this new-found flexibility.

UCN • We have had collaborative technology for more than 20 years and yet it has taken a pandemic to bring it to the forefront. Why?

For companies with a mainly office-based workforce, it has meant the greatest and fastest shift in ways of working ever seen before in the corporate world. This shift to hybrid working is a trend that’s been building for many years. COVID-19 has simply accelerated this trend and brought it more acutely into focus. Corporates now need to ask: what do we want our hybrid working model to look like? How do we build competitive advantage, how we be keep current employees engaged, better enable our workforces and attract new talent. But there is a lot to be learned from pioneering organisations whose journey into a more flexible workplace strategy began many years before and of course those multi-site, international teams that were already collaborating across borders and time zones.

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