Dramatically changing norms are fueling the need to transform the workplace. With more than 80% of the country’s population vaccinated, organizations are now gearing up for the gradual return of employees, who are bringing a whole set of expectations with them to the workplace.
A recent report by PwC revealed that the majority of employees in Singapore prefer to have a hybrid work arrangement. According to the survey, 83% of those who work remotely say that they favor a combination of in-person and remote working, and only 4% want to return to the traditional office space.
As employees re-enter the workplace, they want a flexible working model that enables onsite and remote work. A Barco research revealed that they want to work from home 1.5 days a week and in the office 3.5 days a week, whenever they prefer.
Employees are leveraging the fact that remote working has so far been a viable and effective option for many organizations. Hybrid working creates opportunities for business leaders to change work culture, redesign the workplace and invest in usability and technology fully while keeping in sync with employee needs. This flexibility enables workers to achieve better work-life balance and yield increased work satisfaction, productivity and efficiency.
While the future of the workplace is clearly hybrid, not all employees have the same needs and requirements for collaboration. There may be differences across departments, generations, genders, and even seniority levels. People in IT, for example, want to work from home twice as much as those in operations. Generation Z employees prefer to work from the office more often than senior management employees. Baby boomers show a strong preference for face-to-face meetings and calls, while millennials prefer hybrid working and are open to using both their laptop and smartphone to host meetings.
According to Barco’s Meeting Trend Research, more than half of the workforce is ready to return to the physical office. Despite this, the majority of employees still prefer to work from home from time to time, with 77% thinking that all meeting rooms need to be equipped with videoconferencing technology. It also showed that 88% of employees think that easy-to-use technology can make for a better meeting, indicating that Bring Your Own Meeting (BYOM) is their preferred choice for connecting with co-workers.
To ensure the success of the post-pandemic workplace, employers need to develop office strategies that allow for flexibility and empower employees to work in a way that fits them best. They need to reflect, rethink and re-strategize to fully address the growing needs of their employees while still ensuring efficiency and productivity.
The rise of hybrid meeting rooms
To facilitate their needs, employers will need to refocus the spotlight on their employees through the lens of technology, especially when they want to simultaneously ensure rules for social distancing and restrict movement in busy areas. Workers call for hybrid meeting rooms that allow for more structured, planned in-person meetings and more closed and formal meeting spaces that enable videoconferences to cater to remote attendees. They prefer larger meeting rooms and advise against new investments in huddle spaces where spontaneous, ad hoc meetings happen.
Hybrid meetings offer a unique blend of both an in-room component and a virtual online component with live video streaming and online presentation of content. They bring into play the best features of both types of meeting: in-person communication and virtual meeting benefits like interactivity, information sharing and recording.
To prepare the workplace for seamless hybrid meetings, investments in better video conferencing technology are the top priority for organizations. This includes rolling out new or uniform UC platforms in the entire enterprise, equipping meeting spaces with SWAPS like cameras, mics, speakers, soundbars for good audio and video quality, investing in decent display and visualization solutions, and enabling wireless content sharing, collaboration, and conferencing for increased engagement. Turning a meeting room into a hybrid meeting room can be done in just a few simple steps.
Power to the people
Let’s face it. Employees do not expect to go back to normal post-pandemic. The workplace will be focused on hybrid alternatives powered by innovation. Alongside investments in technology, employers must also formulate policies that will support and provide guidance on the company’s new work model. Future-ready employers, who are serious about creating a flexible work culture, understand that what matters most is not how a workplace looks but how it works.
Employers who will base their investment decisions on employee feedback will probably have the best chance of success. The redesign of offices should be centered on workers’ expectations and preferences to create a dynamic environment for all. Employees have a strong voice. And as we enter the workplace of the future, it’s crucial to make the office employee-centric instead of work-centric.
Gan Ta Loong is the Managing Director of Barco Southeast Asia, he is responsible for revenue and operational management at Barco Southeast Asia and Taiwan. While overseeing the business and operations focusing on the healthcare, enterprise and entertainment segments for Barco in the region, Ta Loong is also the Vice President for Immersive Experience for Barco across the Asia Pacific region. A seasoned professional with more than 27 years of strategic and business development experience in the consumer and enterprise technology industry in Asia, Ta Loong is recognised for his high performance team building and management skills.
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