How Tech Makes Return-to-Office Easier

With fall on its way, new omicron-specific boosters available, and COVID case rates continuing to drop, more employers are pushing for a “new normal” that involves some in-office work. While only 5% of mid- to large-size companies are requiring their employees in-office full-time, more than two thirds expect some in-person attendance each week. It seems like this hybrid approach for return-to-office plans is only going to grow in the coming months.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that all employees are happy about it. They’ve become used to the comforts of home – the snacks, the pajamas, the dogs. They’re also comfortable using their own tech. If your business is going to win the tug-of-war between in-office and home office, it’s time to rethink your technology to make both experiences match.

Evaluating the In-Office Experience

As much as employees are sick of endless video calls, they do come with one benefit: ease of use. With just a few clicks, the employee can easily present a document or slide deck, and all participants can both hear the presenter and see the deck clearly.

Compare that to the frustration a meeting room can cause. Cords everywhere, chasing down connectors so your laptop can match the AV system’s inputs and unknown issues hearing or seeing remote participants (and vice versa). For employees that left these problems behind with a move to remote work, it can be daunting for them to imagine returning to the office.

For business owners and office managers, the goal is to recreate this at-home experience within the office. But this remains easier said than done because, no matter your office work policy, you’re likely to experience remote meeting participants, whether employees, customers, vendors, etc. So how can you create a consistent experience no matter the participant’s location?

Examine the Room Technology

Look at your current technology and determine how to create that seamless transition between being virtual and in-person. Begin with looking at how employees create and launch meetings. Is there a centralized way to book spaces? Does the technology allow for ease of launch (think one- or two-touch meeting launching functionalities) or are multiple connectors needed? Likewise, does the technology support multiple meeting platforms – Webex, Zoom, Teams – to ensure that employees can easily jump from platform to platform as they do when working remote?

Taking stock of these functionalities and ensuring each are addressed will improve employee buy-in and make for more successful meetings.

Think about the Room Aesthetics

While most of the focus should be on the meeting room technology, it’s also important to not overlook the room as a whole. From a visual perspective, is the lighting sufficient for video conferencing? Are their blind spots or dark corners that need help. Is there a means to redirect or suppress natural light to reduce camera glare?

Likewise, it’s important to look at the audio set up in the room. If acoustics are an issue, the addition of speakers and microphones throughout the room can make it easier to even out the speaking volume of in-person participants and remote participants.

A Better Business Experience

Hybrid is here to stay, so it’s important you take steps to prepare for it – and to change the narrative around coming into the office. It should be a pleasant experience, not a chore.

In-person collaboration is invaluable, and meeting rooms can often be a major pain point for the in-office experience, but they don’t have to be. By upgrading and adopting AV technology that’s built with the hybrid approach in mind, your employees will find it easier to launch, drive and participate in a meeting.

And with fewer calls to IT and less frustration at the start of every meeting, you can make the office more productive. And hey, you can give your employees another reason to be excited about coming into the office — besides the free coffee of course.