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Agile working requires better communication tools

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa)

A new year always brings optimism and motivation to find new ways to boost productivity and efficiency. Most organisations are moving towards an agile workplace to increase employee wellbeing and cut operational costs, by moving their staff to smaller, more cost-effective premises, encouraging hot-desking and remote working.  We are seeing a widening of the definition of a workspace; from huddle and co-working spaces to coffee shops, more places are being deemed acceptable places to work, as long as the job gets done effectively.

Many of these changes have been facilitated by technology. The popularity of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has been driven by more powerful laptops, tablets and mobile devices, as well as better and increasingly ubiquitous Wi-Fi connectivity.

With a fresh perspective driven by workspace environments and technology innovations, we can start to see what the workplace of the future looks like, where technology improves collaboration between local and remote teams. With that optimism in mind, below are some of the exciting workplace technology trends we expect to see in 2018.

Video communications will be everywhere

Irrespective of location or device, Zoom Video Communications’ single app with a multi-platform approach creates a universal meeting experience familiar to all users, so that video conference calls are set-up and kicked-off quickly, without the hassles traditionally associated with older video conferencing systems. 

Companies are increasingly deploying video communications on a much bigger scale, with many of them introducing it to every single meeting room, desk and employee. In part, this is in response to millennials coming into the workplace, who are used to consumer video applications and expect video-calling technology to be part of any modern office. There is also an obvious shift towards mobile devices. This enables companies to allow every meeting to include remote video participants. 

An upside of this trend towards ubiquitous video communications is the increased flexibility it gives employees to work remotely without them feeling excluded from their office-based team, which is a factor that can boost productivity. In fact, a recent Forbes Insight survey* found that 92 per cent of executives believe that the expanded use of video conferencing has a positive impact on their performance. 

More importantly, the technology opens up new ways for staff to feel connected and together as a whole company, even if satellite offices are located in different cities or countries. This sense of community can be achieved by having screens in common areas at each location with a permanent video-call between them, enabling employees in separate offices to see each other every day, so they feel like they are in the same office. Companies are clearly seeing the value of this approach, as the same Forbes Insight Survey found that 80 per cent of executives now say that relative to audioconferencing, video conferencing is fast becoming the norm for internal teams.

The move to wireless presentations has started

A second trend is the move towards wireless content sharing in meeting rooms, which is a development  that is most welcome by those tired of walking into a room to discover the necessary dongles are missing or broken. It also gives meeting hosts and attendees the flexibility to move freely around the room without having to worry about unsightly cables and their potentially litigious trip risks.

New collaboration tools – consolidation is key

Audio conference calls are still common tools in the workplace, but they make it hard to stay focused, feel connected with the other participants, and be truly engaged in a call. It’s likely that many people drift off mentally, don’t pay attention, or are tempted to check their emails during the call. It’s also hard to know who is listening or paying attention when you can’t see them. To further complicate matters, sharing a presentation often requires the use of a separate tool. There is now a growing trend to get rid of these different tools and consolidate them using a single tool for all types of meetings, whether it’s for audio conference calls, video calls, webinars, persistent chat, and/or sharing a presentation. In Zoom’s case, it allows participants to join a meeting or chat from any device, by simply clicking on an invite sent by the organiser.

Book meeting rooms via touchscreens

We are probably all familiar with the challenges of booking a meeting room and the hassles of dealing with a double-booking. Thanks to Zoom, these challenges are set to come to an end. By installing a small tablet with a green/red indicator outside the meeting room, staff immediately know if the room is available simply by looking at the red or green light occupancy status. Furthermore, it also shows current and upcoming meetings, and allows staff to book rooms or spaces on-the-fly, with a couple of simple taps. Those room booking screens can also be used for small huddle spaces.

The many uses for digital signage

TVs in meeting rooms and on office walls could be used in a smarter way when they are not in use.  Workplace designers are increasingly drawn to the concept of “biophilic design”, which incorporates elements of nature in office design, such as plants, wood, blue and green colours, and natural light, which create a more harmonious environment that enables employees to feel more in-tune with nature, and become more productive. By adding digital signage technology, also offered by Zoom, to all displays in the office, you can display biophilic images, such as waterfalls, forests and aquariums, in all meeting rooms and office spaces, to improve staff wellbeing and productivity. These same screens can also display informational content throughout your office, such as canteen menus, welcome messages, metrics, promotional videos, announcements, and more.

Clearly, the workplace is evolving to a more agile environment, thanks to a new definition of the workspace and better communication tools. 2018 presents an ideal opportunity for organisations to look at how technology can keep their staff happier, more connected, more engaged, more motivated, and more productive. 

Mike Adams, Channel Manager, Zoom (opens in new tab)
Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa

Mike is an expert technology evangelist, driven by advising companies about the latest workplace technology innovations, especially meeting room video-collaboration tech. He is helping Zoom develop its EMEA reseller market.