What does it mean when you say, “I’m going to work ”? Clearly, after the most horrific pandemic of our lifetimes, it does not mean what it did just a couple of years ago.
Our homes have become our offices, classrooms and gyms. Most, if not all, of our interactions with colleagues went virtual at some point over the past 18 months. Even now, with the success of the UK’s huge vaccination programme, it is unlikely working habits will return to “normal” any time soon.
For business leaders it is clear the nature of how and where we work has shifted forever. Work is no longer a place: it’s what you do and how you do it.
This sea change was set in motion before the pandemic, however. Businesses were already benefiting from increased data infrastructure capabilities, more sophisticated communications and an ongoing digital transformation. Covid-19 acted as fuel to the spark, accelerating the digital transformation that was already beginning to reshape the working world.
Research by industry analyst Gartner shows 74 per cent of companies will permanently shift to more remote workforces. By 2024, Gartner expects there will be 600 million remote workers worldwide. Our customers agree. They expect all meetings to have at least one remote attendee in the future, and therefore for all meetings to need video facilities. Meeting rooms will have to change dramatically as a result. In the past, we built conference rooms that looked and worked just like the last hundred rooms before them. We installed complex control technology that forced people to learn how to use it, and we conducted our meetings to conform to the requirements of that design. Our conversations were about “endpoints”. And, I might add, we’ve been just about universally disappointed.
The hybrid working future will require a more comprehensive approach. We need to offer customers the combined hardware, software and services to connect people, spaces and technology. Analysts estimate that of the roughly 50 million conference rooms in the world, fewer than 10 per cent are video-enabled. Clearly that will no longer support the vastly increased numbers of remote workers.
“It is clear the nature of how we work has shifted forever. Work is no longer a place: it’s what you do and how you do it”
The technology for many improvements already exists. Artificial intelligence and machine learning mean one no longer needs to pick up a remote control or decipher a complex touch panel to start a meeting or adjust camera shots. The cameras are now smart enough to make quality images and follow all the action automatically. Unwanted background noise can also be cancelled out, leaving just the speaker’s voice.
More innovations are on the horizon, including indexing and analysing video meetings, automatic transcriptions and highlights, simplifying meeting initiation and measuring sentiment after a call.
Our mission is to connect people, technology and spaces so that we can work together seamlessly, wherever we may be. This is how we will deliver the future of work. We’re well on our way there.