Over the last few years, hybrid rooms have become the most vital element of any organization that wishes to compete in the post-COVID world. With benefits for both employees and the companies that they work for, remote and hybrid working has become a staple in the new landscape of business
Reduced costs, better employee retention, an essentially limitless talent pool, and higher staff morale are all perks of a hybrid workforce that can be hard for traditional workplaces to beat.
But, to take advantage of these benefits, hybrid organizations will need to provide their teams with tools that connect them effectively.
Below, we’ll outline the types of interactions that these hybrid collaborative spaces need to be able to support. We’ll also identify resources that I.T. departments can deploy to meet productivity goals.
TYPES OF COLLABORATION THAT SHOULD BE SUPPORTED
During a single workday, remote staff may have dozens of interactions. While these interactions may address a wide variety of topics and problems, virtually all of them can be classified into one of four broad categories:
By ensuring your tech supports each kind of activity, I.T. teams can create collaborative spaces that optimize employee performance.
The ability to provide remote teams with information is one of the most basic and necessary activities a hybrid space should support. With proper technology, informing teams can also be highly engaging. This is vital for efficiency and productivity, especially when poor-quality meetings can lead to remote meeting fatigue.
A few technologies that will improve engagement include:
The “Immersive View” functionality in Zoom allows users to place as many as 25 video participants against a single virtual background. This will allow the hosts to be viewed as a cohesive panel, rather than on separate screens. The hosts can even rearrange the seating structure based on personal preference. Microsoft Teams also has a “Views” feature that provides similar functionality.
When you have several participants in a single video, like a team in a conference room, Zoom’s “Smart Gallery” feature can separate out their images so that all of the individual attendees can be seen. This can help remote participants to determine who is speaking and more clearly observe reactions, allowing them to engage more effectively with participants who are in the room physically.
IN-MEETING CHATS AND POLLS
In-meeting chats allow participants to ask questions or provide feedback without disrupting the hosts’ messaging. The polls feature gives hosts an opportunity to ask questions, get real-time feedback, and host more interactive meetings.
When used strategically, polls and in-meeting chats can be great tools to boost engagement, enhancing participation both in the room and remotely at the same time.
Zoom allows users to transcribe recorded meetings. Participants will be able to reference this transcription after the meeting has concluded. This can be particularly valuable after meetings that discuss new projects or policies that attendees might need to review later.
Keeping staff engaged during virtual meetings is only half the battle. Hybrid meetings are no longer reserved for planning alone, but are used for real-time collaboration, and companies will need to ensure their teams have the resources they need to be productive.
A few examples of these technologies include:
MICROSOFT TEAMS LIVE EDITING
Microsoft Teams collaboration tools allow participants to edit content in real-time. Team members can create new materials, edit content simultaneously, share files, and co-author various documents. This eliminates the need to email documents back and forth between team members each time a change is made.
MICROSOFT TEAMS TRANSLATION
Without the inherent geographic restrictions of the past, talent can now be sourced from anywhere. Technology like Microsoft Teams’ translation capabilities now means language barriers can be overcome, too. The translation software will instantly translate text on co-authored projects, which allows staff members from different countries to collaborate seamlessly.
Neat Board is an innovative presentation tool with a 65-inch screen. It can be mounted to the wall, taking the shared video experience to the next level by adding the ability to annotate presentations and do basic whiteboard tasks. Tools like this can enhance engagement by bringing together remote video tools with in-person notetaking.
Top video conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom allow meeting hosts to create separate meetings within meetings called breakout rooms. These are excellent tools for training courses or project planning sessions that require small group work.
The host can create a custom number of rooms, manually assign participants to these rooms, and set a timer that will automatically return users to the main session.
Whiteboards have been at the center of meeting rooms and conference areas for years. However, this effective tool has its limitations in the hybrid environment. To replace the traditional, physical whiteboard in the remote workplace, several innovative solutions have been introduced by the collaboration industry’s leading brands. Many platforms offer software-based whiteboarding solutions in their apps, but digital whiteboard hardware options are also available that more closely mimic the traditional whiteboarding experience so meetings participants afar can also have the same experience as those in the room.
HARDWARE SOLUTIONS THAT DIGITIZE TRADITIONAL WHITEBOARDS
Combination whiteboarding solutions use specialized cameras and software to translate the content of actual whiteboards into the digital meeting space. Three of the top hardware/software options include:
Organizations can deploy interactive displays using these solutions and pair those displays with their preferred video conferencing platform.
These hardware based options are meant to replace your old-school whiteboards in favor of a touch screen display that is sensitive to touch or “markers” that help users to be interactive by allowing them to physically “draw” on the screen. These boards can often incorporate digital media in juxtaposition with drawings and hand-written notes. Helpful tools include
IN-PLATFORM WHITEBOARD FEATURES
Zoom Whiteboard allows users to share and annotate their screens by drawing and writing with their mice. All participants can annotate and notes can be saved as a PNG file for future reference. Two other software solutions include Lucidspark and Miro. These technologies can be used in conjunction with video conferencing software in order to incorporate whiteboarding into meetings.
CONNECT (OTHER VIRTUAL AND IN-PERSON COLLABORATION)
In addition to the technologies outlined above, there are several other virtual and in-person collaboration tools that can enhance employee productivity.
CONFERENCE ROOMS SOLUTIONS
With hybrid working taking center stage in the work world following the height of COVID-19, conference rooms fitted with video conferencing solutions allow teams to connect from anywhere. The increasingly innovative and advanced technologies that have come out of the last few years have introduced a whole new suite of tools and level of connectivity that ensures everyone at every table is seen and heard.
Along with these new technologies, companies like Vivo Technologies have emerged to bridge the gap between tech and the organizations who need it. Vivo’s Instant AV service allows organizations to expedite the deployment of in-room solutions, while Comprehensive AV services are designed for implementing technology into spaces and workplaces that are more complex and custom.
Due to the challenges of the last two years, team members may find that they need to relocate their workspace at a moment’s notice. If this occurs right before a virtual meeting, the incident can hinder productivity.
Hot desking involves the deployment of portable collaboration resources, such as TVs on carts, so that staff members can quickly adapt to unexpected issues.
Hot desking is an up-and-coming practice that allows hybrid employees to essentially “rent” a workspace in the office for the days they plan to be there, but frees up the space for other employees to use when they’re working from home. It’s an effective alternative to the traditional desk assignment where one worker will keep the same desk for more or less their entire time in their position at the company.
Hot desking can be made possible with easily portable technology, like personal headsets and laptops, and scheduling solutions.
Several technology providers such as Logitech, Robin, and Yealink offer displays that are stationed outside conference and huddle rooms to show when a room is booked or available. These displays also allow staff members to schedule time with the room ahead of time from their desks or on the spot.
By leveraging the solutions discussed above, organizations can optimize the productivity of hybrid employees and create a thriving digital work environment.