The Neat Escape: How meeting room tech can end the ‘returning to office’ battle
In what is arguably the most significant transformation in how people work since the Industrial Revolution, many businesses now offer the flexibility of remote work. While different workplaces have different policies, what was once reserved for days of doctor’s appointments or heavy snow is now expected between one or five days a week. However, over the last couple of years, a divide has been emerging between employees and their employers. While the former have enjoyed the newfound freedom of their new working pattern and wish for it to continue, the latter are becoming dejected by the sight of empty desks and quiet canteens.
Research has found that 91 percent of remote-capable employees prefer a hybrid or fully-remote model, and 88 percent of hybrid workers prefer three days or fewer on-site. One of the main reasons for this is the quality time people are getting with their families as a result. Before the Industrial Revolution, the family was together all the time, working and living in the same space, but the advent of industrialization led to a separation of work and home life. However, when the pandemic forced all of us to stay indoors, it brought families back together under the same roof for work and education.
While it was a difficult period for many reasons, a lot of people enjoyed the extra quality time they had with family and friends thanks to saying goodbye to a lengthy commute. When restrictions were lifted, there was little motivation to head back to the office, particularly when productivity was actually boosted by working from home. Indeed, working parents, people with disabilities who struggle to commute or sit in an office all day, and people in remote areas could suddenly take on roles from home that were previously not open to them. As a result, more than a quarter of employees say they will likely switch jobs if forced to return to work on-site full-time.
Unfortunately, many employers have not shared this positive attitude towards home working. In fact, many companies are strengthening their return-to-office policies after initial attempts to tempt back their workforces failed. One report found that 75 percent of business leaders want their employees back in the office full-time, but this is not without reason. Over 66 percent of CEOs say they struggle to maintain a sense of company culture with a disparate workforce, and over 62 percent say the biggest challenge is fostering collaboration and good communication.
Employees have also faced some difficulty with the new working style. Just over half of those who work remotely feel their colleagues don’t treat them equally when they are at home due to proximity bias. Indeed, those workers who have returned to the office voluntarily are doing so to collaborate more effectively with their co-workers, brainstorm creative ideas, and share information.
The answer for employers trying to entice their staff back into the office is, therefore, not laying down the law through a strict return-to-work policy but promoting the elements that make on-site work desirable. After all, an Oxford University study did find that happy workers are 13 percent more productive. Setting up flexible workspaces, like huddle rooms, equipped with top-of-the-range video conferencing solutions is a good place to start as these can eradicate instances of ‘meeting inequity’. With greater audio-visual capabilities, remote workers can collaborate more effectively with those in the office and feel connected, regardless of the distance between them.
The technology that workspaces are equipped with can inspire employees to do their best work, whether that be in a one-on-one chat or group brainstorming session. The devices offered by Neat are designed with this in mind. All Neat devices include a patented technology called Neat Symmetry that can accurately detect the location of every person in a meeting room. It can zoom in, auto-frame a speaker, and even follow them as they move around the room. This ensures they are always in focus for remote attendees and can gauge both verbal cues and body language for improved communication.
Neat also offers devices such as Neat Board and Neat Board 50 – large touchscreens with high-quality cameras and microphones that fit just as well in a communal area as in a meeting room. They can be easily moved around to create collaboration spaces in open areas. This means that a conversation between a remote participant and an office worker can easily be initiated even in a casual setting, like a kitchen or break room, helping maintain that all-important company culture.
It is difficult to predict what the future of work will look like, but while it will likely be different for every company, hybrid and remote work are here to stay. Find out how collaborative technology from Neat can bring your workforce together, wherever they may be, in the free ‘Neat Guide to the Modern Office’ or by exploring its award-winning product range today.
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