Ensuring equality of meeting experience for employees, whether working remotely or in the office, is a key consideration for tomorrow’s hybrid workspaces.

According to the EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey, 9 in 10 employees want flexibility in where and when they work. The majority would prefer to work remotely full time (29%), or in a hybrid work arrangement (23%).

The survey canvassed the views of more than 16,000 employees across 16 countries, including 1,037 respondents from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. 

It’s clear that hybrid workspaces will be here to stay.

However, a key challenge for business and IT leaders while designing hybrid workspaces is ensuring that every employee has an equal say and that the work experience is consistent regardless of location.

How should organizations in Asia ensure equality of meeting experience for their employees and bridge the gap between remote and office workers? What can they do to facilitate an environment that mimics real, physical conversations, no matter where employees are working from?

For some answers, DigiconAsia posed these questions and more to Jacques Bertrand, Vice President, Crestron Asia:

Jacques Bertrand, Vice President, Crestron Asia

Why is there a growing need to ensure meeting equality for the workforce in the post-pandemic era?

Bertrand: There is now more emphasis on hybrid models of work and work-from-home as businesses adapt to the changing requirements of the economy to mitigate the risks of the pandemic. As more meetings are taking place over video-conferencing platforms than ever before, it is essential to ensure meeting equality in order to facilitate productive communication between employees and stakeholders alike.

As people had an excellent experience working from home, they will expect a better experience when they come to the office as well. Otherwise, they would have preferred to work from home. Intelligent Video is one of these functions that will be required, to guarantee experiences that will allow for seamless and insightful collaboration among employees.

In today’s environment, hybrid meetings and effective collaboration are requirements for business success. Ineffective video collaboration can exacerbate that disconnect if all participants do not have an equal seat in meetings. By implementing intelligent video solutions, both in-person and remote participants can more effectively engage in the meeting, spurring more effective brainstorms and collaboration, resulting in better meetings and more engagement amongst employees.

A challenge for business and IT leaders while designing hybrid workspaces is ensuring that every employee has an equal say and that the work experience is consistent regardless of location. What are some key considerations for a great hybrid workplace experience?

Bertrand: Technology compatibility, consistent user experience, room scheduling, and management are all key factors that must be considered by organizations today in order to enact a great hybrid workplace experience.

For the past decade, FORTUNE 500® companies have engaged with architects and technology consultants to create workplace environments that facilitate creativity and collaboration. Ideation spaces and open floor plans replaced cubicle pens and corner offices.

Today, the same architects and technology consultants must design retrofits of these spaces to increase social distancing and develop long-term responsive plans to accommodate highly flexible teams. Flexibility, scalability, mobility, and analytics are the cornerstones to transform the workplace to adapt to new modes of working.

Additionally, the use of Intelligent video conferencing will be a key factor to ensuring an effective hybrid workplace experience as employees can effectively collaborate online or offline via the platform, connecting remote workers to in-office workers.

How would the right audiovisual technologies help organizations build business continuity and enable strong business growth?

Bertrand: Having the right audiovisual technologies to empower workers in the age of hybrid work can enhance productivity and efficiency, which leads to strong business growth.

Unified Communications (UC) helps to simplify communications in a hybrid work environment by providing a selection of platforms tailored to suit every type of organization. The right UC platform gathers everything your employees need to connect, share, and work together in one streamlined interface.

Remote working is now easier than ever – organizations must keep up with the increase in quality of meeting rooms and offices in order to retain and attract valuable employees, which remains a top priority in many enterprises.

The best way to ensure strong business growth is to empower employees to be flexible and adaptive. During turbulent times, organizations which have emerged with strong business continuity have adopted technologies that help their employees perform at their best.

Is standardization and optimization of hybrid workspaces important? What does the future look like for organizations if video-enabled workspaces are standardized and optimized?

As video-enabled workspaces become standardized and optimized in the future, employees are expected to have smooth video conferencing experiences with their colleagues and enjoy more productive collaborative experiences with their co-workers.

Standardization is a way to address another important challenge – the importance of buying future proof solutions. The integration with other functions in the organization using the basic network and cloud infrastructure means that we will constantly have to be in sync with the IT policies of the company. We are influenced by the constant improvements in security standards, improvements in procedures and processes to run the company. Companies no longer tell employees what they can use in the office, people are at their liberty to use what they please at their workspace.

Looking into the future of video-enabled hybrid workspaces, companies must do more than send select employees back to the office while others continue to work remotely. The right solution requires more tact. Physical offices deserve novel technology and infrastructure features that can truly support hybrid teams, facilitate collaboration, and be a catalyst for innovation. Portability, flexibility, ease-of-use, integrated support for an entire ecosystem of UC software, support for the cloud, data-driven communication and collaboration tools, and security are all critical components of the newly re-architected workplace.

As is done for other parts of the IT infrastructure, companies want to standardize on end-to-end solutions by using the same brand for the different functions they have on their campuses. Collaboration offered by brands like Crestron allows for a much easier management of the infrastructure – firmware upgrades of the different tools happening in sync, asset management tools that manage the complete space remotely with a click of the mouse and more.

Hybrid workplaces that have adopted standardized and optimized software and hardware will enjoy stronger business continuity, as employees are supported no matter where they work from and will not experience the usual pitfalls of trying to use platforms that are unsupported or out-of-date.