Virtual Engagement is More than a Technology Play

For many months, organizations have been advancing digital transformation strategies and the development of agile workforces

Today, this has taken on an entirely new dimension as 10-year plans have collapsed into one.

While a large percentage of businesses and their customers have adapted to remote work models, the agile approach must now be applied to an entire ecosystem that in some cases spans the globe. Those organizations that were already advancing digital transformation agendas have the advantage of being ahead of the game. But as other organizations turn their efforts to supporting the new distributed, agile workforce, these efforts will only continue to accelerate.

Remote work is hardly a temporary phenomenon. A growing number of global IT enterprises are leading the way and extending remote work models into the foreseeable future. For example, Google has said it will keep its workers at home until at least July 2021. Facebook has said its goal is to shift half of its workforce to remote work in five to 10 years. They are not alone. A July 2020 Gartner study reveals that 82% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely some of the time, while 47% said they intend to allow employees to work remotely full time going forward. This puts an entirely new spin on what collaboration and employee engagement mean.

Real-time content creation and delivery

Content will need to be elevated to deliver more engaging, interactive, and immersive experiences, whether dealing with employees, customers, or partners. Organizations must optimize existing IT systems and processes to support virtual video-based communications, interactive tools, and applications that capture users’ attention in real-time content creation and delivery.

This re-engineering moment in time is not only orders of magnitude larger than anything we have seen in the past; it is one that goes beyond business process and speaks to the heart of an organization’s culture and people. This has created a new urgency around the need for an agile, connected, and interactive workforce that operates within an increasingly fluid digital marketplace; where people can be productive and connected from any location and on any device of their choosing.

Virtual collaboration

A key challenge moving forward is not whether technology infrastructure is in place to support virtual collaboration, as many organizations have at least already started deploying digital and cloud strategies. Now more than ever however, policies and practices will have to adapt to the social and technological needs of connecting people in the new remote working model. The question is, how do organizations leverage digital tools to support the emotional, social, and practical needs of their globally distributed hybrid workforce?

There are the obvious foundational elements that would be the first on any check list: a rock solid, fully secure IT networking infrastructure, cloud-based applications and collaboration software, and videoconferencing solutions to name a few.

The new tools that matter

But just as important are the hardware components in this equation. The right technology choices here are critical to building a cohesive corporate culture, supporting team building and fostering employee engagement within the virtual model. While immersive visual technology can be seen as the “last mile” for content creation and delivery, it is fundamental to fully engaging employees, customers, and partners in their day-to-day interactions.

Expectations will only continue to grow as the new distributed workforce matures. Immersive display technologies such as touch, gesturing and voice activation will play transformative roles in fulfilling the demand for synchronization, simplicity, and speed in all interactive communication activities.

Also, let us not forget the value of the right visual solution in the immersive landscape. All too often remote workers are conducting their day to day activities hunched over small screens or laptops that drive limited engagement at best. Organizations that are committed to remote operations on a larger scale, must look beyond the minimal ad hoc setups for virtual conferencing, town hall meetings, and training sessions.

When it comes to monitors and displays, think ergonomics, wide screen, resolution, large and functional, with high quality sound and color resolution (4K is the standard today), advanced touchscreen capabilities, ultra-high-speed connectivity (physical and wireless), multiple inputs, and built-in casting capabilities for a start.

Depending on the nature of the collaboration, digital whiteboard platforms can transform a disengaged online chat experience to a highly experiential, interactive collaborative event that allows you and participants to leverage multiple presentation formats, digital annotation tools, and cloud and video-assisted resources.

Not surprisingly, some leaders may be apprehensive about the impact today’s remote work models have on culture. In fact, research shows that maintaining corporate culture is a primary concern for business leaders managing a hybrid workforce. The key moving forward in a socially distanced workplace will be learning how to humanize the digital experience. That starts with a technology strategy that connects us at a deeper level and in a new way.

Technology may be an enabler of change, but its success moving forward will hinge on the ability of business to deliver a seamless, highly interactive, engaging, and productive online experience. The distributed workforce is here to stay, and we all need to be prepared to be present in the moment, whether dealing with colleagues or our most distant prospect.

About the Author

Jeff Volpe is President, Americas for ViewSonic, a leading global provider of interactive and collaborative display solutions for enterprise, education, and commercial markets.

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