In a recent webinar I hosted with my colleague James Brennan and Craig Durr, Senior Analyst at Wainhouse research, we took an in-depth look at what the hybrid working world looks like today, and shared some insider tips on how to make enterprise collaboration work for organizations.
There’s no doubt that when it comes to the way businesses operate, 2020 heralded a new era in communication and collaboration, with a mass global adoption of video conferencing. While video communication has been around for decades, it was expensive to set up, and its use was confined to more established organizations who could afford the costly capital outlay to have systems installed.
Today, video conferencing is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but an absolute necessity to ensure business continuity and enable hybrid work.
Want more insights on How to Hybrid? Watch the full webinar.
The shift from CAPEX to OPEX
Today’s video communication tools have evolved to become ubiquitous, thanks to huge technological advances including the rise of cloud computing, user experience management, and the ability to deploy and maintain these tools at a fraction of the cost.
Video communication and collaboration has shifted from being burdensome capital expenditure, to a manageable part of every-day operating expenses, making it affordable not just for large enterprises, but organizations of all sizes and maturity. Today, video is everywhere – creating endless possibilities in a new hybrid working world.
How video has humanized communication and collaboration
With millions of workers now expected to learn and adapt to using new tools that can enable remote working, video has undergone a massive explosion of acceptance. Where many businesses were once audio-centric, with voice only being the accepted and preferred means of communication, it’s now video conferencing that has taken over as the cultural working norm, particularly as they improve their digital collaboration capabilities such as screen sharing, file sharing and presentation features.
The integration of video meant that instead of a meeting taking place in a room with most participants around a table and perhaps one or two virtual attendees who would often feel somewhat left out, meetings became entirely virtual. Culturally this has had a dynamic impact on the way we communicate, and has become the very core of hybrid work.
Equality and equity are the heart of hybrid
Now that employees are returning to the office, we’re seeing a paradigm shift where meetings are mostly attended remotely, with perhaps only a few attendees actually based in the office boardroom, even if there are others also located in the office.
New and rapidly evolving technology can even enable every attendee to appear equal on the screen, so there is no delineation between who is in the office meeting room, and who is on the other side of the world working remotely.
The challenges of hybrid work
There is no one-size-fits-all playbook to make a hybrid working situation work seamlessly. However, there are some common challenges we’re all facing and must address.
The physical office space
The very nature of a rapidly evolving hybrid world means that employees will be working some time in an office, other times working remotely from home or another work location.
Even the physical office itself is changing. With the realization that expansive and costly real estate is no longer essential to ensure the success of a business, many organizations are consolidating their spaces to cater to the new way of working. Workers may find that each time they are in the office, they’re working with different people, in different workspaces, performing different tasks – and using different equipment.
Adapting to this ‘office, not the office’ situation is taking some getting used to for many workers. Managers, workers and colleagues should have open dialogue about any in-office concerns, and aim to provide suitable workable solutions for everyone concerned.
“Meeting fatigue – it is real!”
– Craig Durr, Wainhouse Research
Cognitive fatigue, or ‘brain drain’ occurs when people try to consume too much audio and video.
Hybrid work allows for different communication platforms. An employee may have a meeting or conference using Webex, then immediately after, switch to another meeting using Teams in back-to-back subsequent meetings for the duration of the day. The constant context switching throughout the day can be mentally taxing. Remedies for this could include better scheduling to include more breaks between meetings, or limit the number of video conferences or online meetings a worker participates in within a normal working day.
Earning the commute
Research shows that employees generally don’t want to go back to the office full time. Work/life balance has become a major issue, with many workers realizing that they can be equally, if not more productive working predominantly from a home environment.
At the same time, workers tend to miss the social aspect and human connection that the office provides. The challenge for HR and IT teams in many organizations is ensuring flexibility, and staying adaptable, so that they can retain and recruit the best talent for the job. This includes providing them with the right tools to make their own working choices, while ensuring that those options align with company goals and expectations.
Visibility into hybrid systems is vital
One of the top challenges for IT teams in a hybrid working scenario is the use of non-certified consumer devices, like headsets, cameras and microphones. Issues can de-rail meetings, produce poor quality video and audio, and make for a terrible user experience. Without complete visibility into an organization’s UC ecosystem, it becomes a nightmare for IT teams to identify where issues stem from, and fix them.
IR Collaborate is a world leading third-party performance management solution that can help organizations achieve complete visibility, as well as providing customized dashboards to see everything in the UC ecosystem from a single pane of glass.
With the disparate nature of hybrid working, a UC environment could consist of dozens or even hundreds of different applications, devices, networks and locations.
Monitoring performance across the UC ecosystem in real-time empowers organizations to respond to problems immediately, and can make the difference between a seamless hybrid work experience and one that is rife with glitches and friction.
IR Collaborate leverages comprehensive metrics throughout the UC ecosystem to provide actionable insights and analytics that can make the difference between success or failure in the hybrid workplace.