Smart offices in a hybrid world: one size does not fit all

With hybrid working firmly here to stay, employees across the country are enjoying the flexibility this enables for a better work-life balance

85% of UK finance workers for example no longer view the office as their main place of work, having adapted and created effective workspaces at home.

But there are still many challenges that exist when it comes to properly integrating remote teams across various locations, with meetings a particular source of tension. Just 12% of employees believe their companies have invested in the appropriate technology to create a successful hybrid working environment, meaning many IT workers and business managers need to rethink the tools they have in place to properly facilitate remote collaboration and maximise productivity.

By identifying problems associated with hybrid working and building a vision for optimising collaboration, companies now have the opportunity to create bespoke smart offices, using technologies to suit their specific needs. From unified conferencing technologies and understanding each unique meeting space, right through to scheduling software. The following pillars of the smart office are your key to designing an optimised and successful workspace.

Embracing unique ways of working

As today’s requirement for the office changes, so does our use of meeting rooms, with space, lighting and sound all too often creating obstacles to hybrid working.

Each meeting room should be assessed on its individual shape and size, as well as its purpose and the needs of the teams using it. For example, those presenting to both remote workers and employees in person may require a movable conferencing solution that can be located to show the presenter and screen on occasion, as well as acting as a more standard meeting room camera at other times. Or if the space is based on a round table then perhaps you need a 360⁰ camera located centrally to capture all participants’ faces and voices effortlessly. Avoiding a one-size-fits-all model helps prevent limitations.

Seamless collaboration

Employees want tech that works flawlessly every time and is easy to use – all too often it’s the technology setup that creates an issue.

Unified communication tools provide the perfect solution for this with high ease of use, such as an all-in-one video and audio conferencing device like MAXHUB’s UC M40. Offering a single product, with the speakers, voice tracking microphones and wide-angle camera fully integrated removes time-consuming setup and builds in user satisfaction.

Employees can simply plug and play, and the meeting is ready to start.

Simplify processes

Remove unnecessary tasks for employees by investing in infrastructure that automates the manual processes that happen every day, such as desk bookings, indoor maps and meeting room scheduling.

Powered by technology, conference room management software has become vital for navigating physical and hybrid spaces more effectively, improving the experience for everyone. Integrating and enabling the seamless use of video conferencing and software tools, conference management systems make meetings more efficient and interactive, while maximising the use of valuable office real estate.

Connectivity at the core

Smart devices and IoT are becoming pivotal to the smart office move, and the interconnectivity and control between devices offers a lot of opportunity for businesses. Simple things like smart lights, and thermostats to monitor and reduce light and power consumption can be a great start, through to air quality sensors, video doorbells and more experiential things like virtual reality cameras.

Focusing on interconnectivity and building in automated systems linked to apps, can give staff much more control over their office time, and improve job satisfaction. From dimming the light of a specific desk or ordering a coffee to your desk for when you arrive; by empowering your teams to personalise their day-to-day office experience, you can in turn help to retain and win over new employees.

Introducing interactivity

Differentiating home working from the office has become a key factor for those deciding to make the journey in each day, so it’s important to look at how to increase engagement levels when teams are in person, for better collaboration and productivity.

Considering what equipment could better serve a space and heighten interaction can often be a quick win. Interactive flat panels or smart whiteboards offer great advantages to make meetings more dynamic, introducing flexible, modern interactions for collective working. These flat panels also serve as another type of integrated solution for projectors, microphones, audio and interaction, with an easy-to-use interface.

Plan for success

There are many different ways to create a smart office and while it requires investment, it allows employees to focus on high-value tasks and creates spaces that reflect the way employees want to work. These changes can be made on a sliding scale, starting small and increasing the connectivity in the office as you go, but in turn provide a huge boost to workplace wellbeing, promoting productivity and increasing collaboration.

Working with the right partner and distributor can offer the necessary support to businesses looking to make changes and deliver competitive pricing alongside the very best technology. There is no one-size-fits-all to creating an office space that works for every company. However, by analysing your own requirements and creating a bespoke plan, you can design a workplace that is effective for everyone and ensure your hybrid working model stacks up to today’s expectations.

About the Author

Tony McCool is the Country Manager for UC UK&I at MAXHUB. He has over 25 years’ experience in the AV industry and has managed high-performing teams across resellers, manufacturers and distribution.