Employees are increasingly demanding more flexibility in the workplace. As employees returned to their offices, they were forced to deal with the fact that they may have to retreat back to the safety of their homes at very short notice. There are still only limited possibilities to travel and meet others in person and gatherings are still largely taking place online, and the only way to meet these new challenges is by implementing new workplace paradigms such as going hybrid.
The road to the “new normal” has been used in the past to describe the situations we are experiencing in our professional and personal lives, but how long the road is and what we will be confronted with when we get there is anyone’s guess. We only know it’ll be a completely different world from what we knew before. Over the last few months, employers have been discovering the benefits of mobile working and in some cases, law makers have been discussing the possibility of making working from home a legal right.
The terms agile and flexible working have been part of our vocabulary for a long time and are now associated with efficiency, optimisation and employee happiness, plus in some cases these flexible working methods are essential for maintaining business operations. Over recent weeks, the media have increasingly been discussing the concept of a hybrid workplace, but what exactly is it?
Our working lives are made up of numerous situations that require collaboration with others. A hybrid workplace can come in many different forms depending on the company and the needs of the employees, but all have one thing in common—to help employees work their way. This includes leveraging new technologies and establishing an infrastructure that meets everyone’s needs. It is especially important to promote agility and flexibility in the workplace, because as long as productivity isn’t hampered, it really doesn’t matter where an employee works from. Shared desks are just as popular as modern video tech and agile working.
Let’s think about how a hybrid meeting would work. There needs to be some kind of framework to ensure that the meeting can run efficiently and effectively and that the participants can fully focus on the topics at hand. When it’s easy to join and the environment is both calm and professional, employees can quickly and easily share information, results and decisions without getting distracted. It shouldn’t be underestimated how valuable personal contact is for capturing people’s moods.
In a hybrid meeting, some of the participants are sitting in an actual meeting room with others joining from their desks in other locations and a handful dialling in from home. Depending on the meeting, those joining could be colleagues, business partners, customers or suppliers. With so many people taking part from so many places, this gives rise to new requirements in terms of technology and infrastructure that aren’t seen in purely virtual or purely face-to-face meetings. Modern technology platforms like Cisco Webex have been designed with exactly these kind of scenarios in mind as they can be easily configured to suit a range of needs.
In terms of technology and solutions, the hybrid workplace means using the infrastructure and services available across your own meeting rooms, your on-premise data centre and also in the cloud. This means that while the meeting takes place virtually in the cloud, the video conferencing systems installed in meeting rooms can also be used to dial in, and e.g. the in-house Exchange service can be also be used for planning. Once a room has been booked in Exchange, the video system displays a list of meetings and all participants have to do to join is click a button.
High-quality video systems with 4K cameras and modern microphones make it feel like you are in the room with each other, while other features, such as dynamically switching the camera picture and wirelessly sharing information and screen content all contribute to the professional experience.
In order to take part virtually, all people need are desktop video systems installed on their own PC or mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and telephones. Simple and intuitive participation information as well as the option to integrate various apps and clients such as Webex Teams or Jabber ensure everyone can take part no matter where they are, including from other companies.
An additional advantage of a hybrid architecture is being able to use cloud-based services such as artificial intelligence, such as Webex Assistant to take part in a meeting through the power of your voice. Other services such as the automatic identification of participants, counting how many people are actually taking part, as well as detecting meeting room capacity also contribute to an all-round positive meeting experience. What’s more, these features help in the collection and distribution of information needed for reports and analyses, but a hybrid workplace wouldn’t be complete without a solution for cross-platform collaboration.