Significant cultural and demographic shifts coupled with advancements in communication technologies, have brought about new ways of working. Organizations, in turn, are tasked with redesigning meeting spaces that will encourage an open dialogue and promote innovation.
The lines are becoming more and more blurred as to what constitutes the modern workplace. With companies becoming increasingly conscious of how they are allocating their expensive real estate space, traditional, individual offices long ago gave way to more open, shared areas encouraging collaboration, a free flow of ideas and information sharing to foster innovation. Throw in technology advancements, distributed workforces, and an overhaul in the way people think about work, and you find a fundamental shift in the way businesses must operate in order to be successful.
The idea of formal, scheduled meeting with everyone in the same conference room is outdated and somewhat obsolete. Today’s meetings are more ad-hoc, less structured, shorter in duration and typically include remote workers. How can organizations achieve the right balance to support these distributed workforces yet make sure all employees feel connected to the company, co-workers and their work in order for the company to succeed in today’s competitive environment?
1. Set up huddle room spaces
With open workspaces becoming the norm, the need for huddle rooms and other areas for quieter, disruption-free meetings are in high demand. Businesses today are beginning to redesign their office spaces to reflect the increasingly collaborative use of the space. Open plan offices, with added quiet spaces, are simply the start of something much bigger and an indication of how the modern workplace is evolving. The workplace is changing to accommodate the new ways of working, which demands collaboration and teaming in new and creative ways.
Companies should not forget about remote workers when setting up these spaces. In order to keep these remote workers engaged with their colleagues, it is important to consider the best technology for these rooms to continue to facilitate collaboration throughout the whole organization no matter where an employee is located. Oftentimes technology for these huddle rooms is an afterthought when it should, in fact, be one of the first things considered. Businesses are putting a heavy emphasis on designing meeting spaces that foster innovation and productivity, but they should also be placing the same emphasis, if not more, on outfitting those rooms with the best technology to facility collaboration and boost creativity. As lower cost solutions, with more capabilities, become increasingly available, the furniture in many of these huddle rooms is actually becoming more expensive than the technology in these rooms!
2. Create natural meeting experiences
Today’s digital workers want engaging conversations, seamless content sharing and multimodal multi-device communications. This can sometimes be difficult with a distributed workforce. The next best thing to in-person meetings is video conferencing. Video has a distinct advantage over other forms of communication in its ability to capture a wide range of information—verbal, written, data, as well as non-verbal/facial cues.
It is essential, however, to make sure the technology is not intimidating to users but rather physically discreet and simple to use as not to distract from meetings but enhance conversations while blending into the background. Some technology features that can help facilitate these natural experiences are features such as audio that adapts to acoustics, quiet talkers and background noise to enable everyone to be heard; cameras that automatically adjust the view without users having to manually move them; hardware and software that are designed to work together to promote ease of use and simplicity when joining conferences; and the ability for remote workers to see what is being written on whiteboards in the room so they are fully engaged in the conversation.
When employees have to struggle to make technology work for them, they lose the desire to innovate or think outside the box and their productivity goes way down as a result. Companies need to focus on removing the technology barrier in order to support natural, productive conversations.
3. Embrace the always connected workplace
Companies must optimize their business and organizational effectiveness to embrace the move toward a 24/7, always-connected global workplace. This will improve employee collaboration and productivity throughout the organization. During this process, however, it is essential that companies do not overlook the importance of collaboration tools when evaluating their technology. This is especially important as the workforce itself grows increasingly virtual; only integrated technology and unified communications (UC) solutions will support and enable the dramatic changes needed for business success in the years to come.
The desire for flexible and remote work shouldn’t negate the need to feel connected to the company, its culture, and the wider workforce. Businesses that engage all of their employees and make them feel they are part of a team see more collaboration, higher rates of productivity, accelerated rates of decision making and ultimately, an increase in profitability. By providing staff with the tools to work both remotely or in the office, yet still feel part of one big team, companies can provide a best-of-both-worlds approach. The key to success is finding the right balance and putting the technology in place to make it happen. As they do so, companies can help ensure that all of their employees feel as connected to each other as possible.