The way we work has been turned on its head. Long gone are the days where we would rush to offices for focus and productivity and leave other facets of life at the door.
Now, for many workers, our homes are where we knuckle down, whilst the office has become a place for team collaboration and meetings. A day in the workplace now has more social significance and can be the springboard for renewed creativity and collaboration. As we head back into the office with some aspect of hybrid working the future of the meeting room has changed.
This change of dynamic means that meeting rooms need a shake-up so that they are equipped to meet the new expectations of the workforce and can act as an efficient hub for all users. But what will the meeting room of the future look like?
More integrated software and hardware
Video conferencing software became an essential part of our working lives for remote working, and will undoubtedly continue to be so for hybrid working. However, with some staff now convening in physical meeting rooms whilst others connect from home, businesses will need to pay close attention to how this software is integrated with their hardware.
Meetings benefit from a free-flowing and engaging environment. To achieve this under hybrid working, remote participants will need to feel as involved as their on-site counterparts. Before anything, businesses should ensure that their audio and video is high-quality by fitting meeting rooms with HD microphones, speakers, and monitors. Following this, further tools, such as 360° video, can be used to cultivate a shared atmosphere, creating an experience for remote workers that is more attuned to being physically in the room.
Finally, businesses should look to continue to enhance the overall value of their meetings by utilising meeting recording software and transcription tools. These tools allow for participants to review key points made throughout the meeting, eliminating the need for inefficient catchups around topics that have already been discussed. Naturally, initial investments into high-quality audio and video recording tools produce better results when used in tandem with the correct software.
Collaboration across locations
Being able to communicate with co-workers is merely one aspect of a meeting. Collaboration is also a hugely important part of the meeting room experience, and for this, businesses will need to invest in tech that allows workers to share ideas more effectively across various locations.
Solutions such as Microsoft Teams and Microsoft SharePoint have been essential tools for remote workers this past year due to their real time collaboration capabilities, but for the many people who prefer the office environment, this simply doesn’t compete with traditional whiteboards. Smart whiteboards present a dynamic solution for the new hybrid workplace by enabling team members to more effectively brainstorm and collaborate across several different locations.
Enabling the new office environment
As well as workplace tech being overhauled, office spaces should also be re-imagined and re-configured. Office managers should consider creating more huddle spaces (keeping COVID compliance front of mind) to maximise collaboration – especially given the inevitable rise in hot-desking. As most people will no longer be working Monday-Friday, businesses will need to best utilise the space available. These spaces should again be equipped with appropriate tools and technology so that effective spontaneous group discussions can take place.
Ultimately, the transition to hybrid working brings more of the unknown, and regardless of how strong your investments initially appear, businesses will need to be able to adapt as they discover what works best for their employees.
With this in mind, business leaders will see huge benefits from complementing their meeting room solutions with analytics tools. If implemented correctly, these tools allow for an in-depth insight into how meeting rooms are being utilised, and just how efficiently meetings are running. Is idea sharing seamless? Are those who are remote contributing as much as those in the room? Analytics tools will allow business leaders to make informed decisions based on tangible data on employee engagement and improve where necessary.
Colin Riddle, Head of Product Management at Telefónica Tech