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Hybrid model of working fuelled by pandemic

After the pandemic subsides, organisations will finally embrace a truly hybrid model of remote and office working powered by a new trend; bring your own meeting (BYOM), says Lieven Bertier, segment director for workplace at Barco ClickShare

As the coronavirus lockdown eases, the world of work isn’t going to go back to how it was at the beginning of the year. Expect many more companies to allow their employees to split their working day between the office and home. This new status quo might not drive new productivity highs, but it will reduce commutes and travel, slashing business expenses and carbon emissions.

Building a hybrid model will allow companies to be flexible after the pandemic, so they can deploy human resources swiftly when and where they’re needed. Tapping into a home-based, remote, yet agile, workforce will be critical, as will managing an office-based workforce that may be more distributed across multiple rooms or office locations.

Before the crisis hit, virtual meetings were already rising exponentially. As some begin to return to the office, getting the technology right will be crucial for companies going forward. Platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have provided vital video-conferencing capabilities during lockdown and this will continue in the “new normal”, but in the long term businesses will want more.

Those hosting conferences from office meeting rooms will now be looking for ways to connect peripheral cameras and microphones wirelessly to their screens so they can stream rich, audio-visual content to remote workers and ensure a great experience at home.

Their key aim is to enhance the virtual experience and improve the engagement and participation of remote participants, who live on their laptops and whose productivity is directly affected by this experience.

That’s why we’ve seen a lot of interest in our ClickShare Conference product, which merges in-room engagement and dynamic collaboration with the ability to connect with colleagues anywhere in the world.

At the same time the pandemic has seen a big increase in the number of employees using their own computers to join virtual meetings. The next evolution of this trend has been dubbed “bring your own meeting” (BYOM), where employees use their preferred video-conferencing software on their own device.

The desire for flexibility is one reason why ClickShare Conference was designed to be platform agnostic because Barco wanted users to be able to not only use their own laptop, but also their preferred software, whether that’s Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet.

Yet it can still be harder for remote participants to engage in a meeting compared to those attending in the office. Our research has found that nearly half of employees feel less important when joining remotely, while 43 per cent feel frustrated or disengaged.

As we look to the future, we need to be designing meeting rooms in offices that enable virtual participants in remote locations to feel part of the action and engage with other participants as if they are there in the room. It’s state-of-the-art technology that will facilitate this.

People also want shorter, more efficient and, crucially, more engaging meetings, whether they are in the room or joining virtually. Over the course of the global lockdown, people have discovered virtual tools they didn’t know existed, from online white boards to virtual breakout sessions.

Within our ClickShare product we’ve seen an increased use of moderation tools, audio and screen-display controls, and more annotation with the use of blackboards. This is something we expect to be an increasingly important part of future meetings.

Whatever happens over the months ahead, businesses realise remote working brings real benefits. We will see a significant shift towards this hybrid model. But more importantly, it’s a model that provides much more freedom and flexibility to choose how and where workforces collaborate and communicate. A heady cocktail of human innovation, a global pandemic and technology has facilitated this. And there is no going back.

To find out more please go to barco.com

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