For many of us in the industry, we not only remember the days before conferencing on our mobile devices, we remember before mobile devices were called mobile devices. In fact, we remember back in the days when doing a video conference successfully was a miracle and smart rooms were those that had a way to connect a computer to a projector.
In the past decade, we have come a long way with technology. Our ability to access technology that connects us to the world from anywhere on any device has opened up a world of possibilities. However, no matter how mobile and face down we may be in our devices, live, realtime collaboration in the office is still necessary.
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With this in mind, enterprises have turned their attention to changing office spaces to make them more modern. Open spaces and large format screens are a few of the ways they have done this. However, this trend toward open offices hasn’t been accepted with open arms by everyone. Many people have complained that it has yielded less productivity from noisy distracting work environments. People may not love cubicles, but often feel they would prefer their little quiet work space to loud, open areas that often promote conversation and marginalize peoples need for concentration.
So as technology integrators, there is a need for a little imagination and some forward thinking technology to make the workplace of the future not only look cool, but practical as well. Here are the keys to getting this done.
- Sound Matters: Open office environments are noisy, but the noise can be managed. Sound masking is an underutilized yet extremely potent way to deal with noise in an open environment. Integrators too often fail to recommend and integrate this technology. When done well, this can help make even the most open office manageable.
- Information at your Fingertips: Seamless mobility means access to information on any device. This isn’t just for the office environment where people come to work, but in between and for the remote worker. Creating consistency from the office to the coffee shop to the home is critical and integrators can help with making collaboration and content accessible no matter where people are working.
- Escape the Insanity: Huddle rooms are a hot commodity and should be part of the modern office plan. Give people small spaces to meet or work alone. However, quiet does not mean disconnected. People need access to monitors, easy wireless or wired connection for conferencing and the ability for privacy from those outside of the room.
- (Good) Meetings Matter: Lastly, the auditorium, classroom and integrated boardroom still has its place. For anyone that has tried to have an extended remote meeting, there is a lot to be said for longer trainings and strategy sessions in a focused and technology rich environment. No matter how mobile and how global a company is, they need to plan some dedicated spaces for quality meetings. This will likely never go away entirely.
The shifting ways in which we work probably won’t slow anytime soon. In fact, they will probably accelerate over the next several years. With this, workers will be forced to adapt to the new way of working and it will be up to the enterprises to accommodate.
Collaboration is best achieved when it combines both active and passive communication. This is why so many people still believe face to face meetings are the very best way to engage. However, as businesses continue the trends of hiring globally and linking people via technology, it falls into the hands of the integrator to make this experience as valuable as possible for both the employee, and the company.