While 2020 has ended and a new year is upon us, the continuing pandemic is still very much a part of our 2021 lives. Although the vaccine is bringing hope of an eventual return to normalcy, the resulting effects will be felt for years to come and some of our previously normal activities will be permanently modified, especially in the workplace. In fact, a Gartner survey of company leaders found that 80-percent plan to allow employees to work remotely part time and 47-percent intend to allow employees to work remotely on a full-time basis, even as employees return to work after COVID-19. This shift in workplace organization has already and will continue to demand the assistance of technology to ensure efficiency and success. Changes to the workplace will involve a higher level of control via tech with a focus on ways to enhance the safety and wellbeing of employees as well as to maintain and improve productivity.
Zoom and Teams meetings are a regular, if not daily occurrence for most of us since March of 2020. Zoom reports that it experienced a jump from 10 million meeting participants in December of 2019 to over 300 million in April of 2020. With a newfound acceptance and understanding of the flexibility that virtual meetings afford, it’s clear that they are here to stay. As a result, the technology that supports this method of collaboration will continue to be in high demand.
Within the workspace this new virtual world will demand more personal huddle spaces to allow employees to meet with limited distractions and background noise. PTZ cameras can automatically zoom and pan on speakers no matter where they may be in a room. Employees will require headsets and cameras for meetings that may take place at their desk. Conference rooms will need to be Zoom and Teams ready with easy to access content sharing available for on-site employees.
In a world where people are now very health and safety conscious, the ability to have full integration, management and automation of building functionality such as HVAC, lighting, and security is fast becoming a top priority. With more hybrid and remote workers sure to be a much larger part of our workforce going forward, the ability to maintain a more energy efficient facility by automating lighting or HVAC to turn off when sensors indicate no one is in that area, will save time and money.
Digital signage will play an important role in alerting employees to new safety protocol or other pertinent information. Large monitors located in the lobby, break rooms, conference rooms, as well as other common areas, can quickly disseminate updates. Additionally, they can provide schedule information for meeting rooms or other areas and assist in traffic flow to eliminate crowded hallways and maintain social distancing.
The At-Home Workplace
While most of us have been making do with our laptops to join and host virtual meetings, there are a host of tools that can be used to enhance the meeting experience. Larger monitors or dual monitors allow for a better view of those partaking in the meeting as well as the ability to have a better view of shared content as well as meeting attendees simultaneously. Headsets allow for clearer audio and help limit distractions, while lighting sources can provide a clearer view of attendees to allow for a more natural feel.