Jabra on Hybrid Work and its Evolution

CT&T chats with Jabra’s Olly Henderson on how technology can facilitate enhanced collaboration in the office and at home, as well as the impetus to achieve meeting equity.

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Jabra on Hybrid Work and its Evolution

Collaboration Today and Tomorrow: What are you seeing as regards hybrid work and return to the office? 

Olly Henderson: As opposed to something shiny and new, 2023 is appearing to be a little bit more of the same, when I speak to the market and listen to what some of our leading clients are saying. There’s still that element of a holding pattern of people fully returning to the office. We’re still having a lot of remote workers. But what is appearing to be new is how people are returning to the office. The office is becoming a more focused area of work. So, let’s say an organization is choosing to have their employees in two or three days a week. Then, people expect a much more collaborative environment when they get to the office. 

So, how does that translate for Jabra? What are we seeing? We’re seeing multiple smaller rooms. Maybe not the huddle rooms that were the boom of 2020 and 2021, but rooms of up to eight to 10 people. People can hop into the room, and they have a great collaborative experience using something like PanaCast 50. We’ve got the full immersive views there. Dynamic composition is one of our views, where we’re popping people out into their individual Hollywood Squares on the screen. And that is something that our clients are really enjoying. So, more rooms of a smaller size. More collaborative environments with great collaboration hardware, such as the PanaCast 50. And whether that’s a BYOD environment, a Zoom environment or a Teams environment, that’s really what our clients are asking for. 

CT&T: What are some key factors to help workers when they’re working from home? 

Henderson: With the remote workers, having a best-in-class headset always helps. Before I came to Jabra, I wasn’t much of a headset guy, and it has really revolutionized my workflow from home. I really enjoy the greater fidelity audio that we get. And then, obviously, we’ve got our PanaCast 20, which is a 4K true HD webcam. You only get one chance to make a first impression — that’s what I always say to people. And I’m really impressed with our PanaCast 20. So, we can help people with the full gamut, however they’re working. 

CT&T: How is Jabra thinking about, and how should the industry be thinking about, ensuring remote team members are equipped for collaboration? 

Henderson: I spoke earlier about dynamic composition. That’s one of our features where we’re able to take four individual streams and combine them into one composite stream. If you and I were in a meeting room with some of my other coworkers, we’d each get a grid on the square. And the PanaCast 50 is able to pick out those individuals and give them that more equitable experience. And if I was the last person to speak out of the four and a fifth person decided to join the conversation, I’d drop out of the grid and the fifth person would hop in. 

We also work hard on our audio in our devices, as well. Being a video guy for 20-plus years, I’m very passionate about my video. But, without truly outstanding audio, the meeting becomes a very difficult thing to do. I can continue to have this conversation if I can’t see you, but, if I can’t hear you, the conversation’s dead in the water. So, we work very hard to make sure that the audio is encompassing. We’re looking at stereo audio potentially in meeting rooms, where, depending on where the person sits in the meeting, you can hear a stereo audio signal coming back. That’s pretty exciting for us. 

Also, our personal devices, working from home. I’m lucky I have a nice, quiet office here. A lot of people working from home don’t have a dedicated space to work from and would rather have their background blurred. Now, we’re all aware that, in Zoom and Teams, you can do that through the platform. But on our PanaCast 20, in our latest software release, we can actually have that blurred background hardwired onto the device. So, at an organizational level, we can push out that blurred background, and all of the users would have that as standard. Takes the workload off the CPU in your laptop, and everything happens on the device. 

We’re working quite hard to think of small wins — incremental wins — that make a hybrid workplace a better place to be. 

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