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The Hybrid Workplace: Why remote workers are frustrated and how to fix it.

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Equipping remote workers with the tools they need to succeed

The workplace isn’t a building — it’s an entire ecosystem of people working at home, in coworking spaces, coffee shops and in the office. As organizations embrace flexible work, the home office needs to be an extension of the corporate office.

Technology has enabled people to work remotely for more than a decade, but the pandemic has brought it into sharp focus as entire organizations went remote and started using video conferencing for every meeting. People are now realizing the challenges of remote collaboration if not done right. In a recent survey on the future of work, 98% of the workforce said they are frustrated with their experience with video meeting at home – there has to be a better way.

Another survey showed the top two challenges for remote workers experience are (1) collaborating with colleagues and (2) a sense of loneliness from not having face-to-face time with peers. Let’s take a look at how you can maintain the company culture and a sense of community through the technology remote workers need in the home office for the hybrid workplace to be successful.

Keep the culture and community

When it comes to extending flexibility, one of the concerns organizations have is maintaining culture, community, and productivity. After all, if a sense of purpose and culture diminish, it can lead to a lack of motivation and ultimately, higher turnover. Without connection to the company purpose or community, employees are more likely to feel isolated.

The hybrid workplace addresses these concerns in 2 ways:

  1. Working from home doesn’t mean you can’t have face-to-face time with you colleagues. A cornerstone of the hybrid workplace is connecting people through video. Collaboration devices in the home office make face-to-face collaboration the norm which helps reduce feelings of isolation and promotes authentic interactions. When you work face-to-face, you build trust and meaningful relationships.
  2. The hybrid workplace isn’t an all-or-nothing approach to remote work. People can choose to work remotely on the days they need to focus or go into the office or work from a local coworking space for a sense of community.

Collaboration is just one aspect of job satisfaction. True, authentic interactions and connection to peers is important to every employee. A video first culture makes connecting face-to-face with friends and colleagues easy. Once people are comfortable with a video-first culture, they can easily reach out to a buddy for a quick chat for work and non-work-related topics.

As we’re immersed in remote work, it’s more important than ever to experience natural and authentic interactions, as though we are meeting in person.

Encourage face-to-face collaboration

Technology has advanced to the point where virtual collaboration not only rivals in-person meetings but surpasses it in many ways with built-in intelligence. It takes the right tools — video conferencing software and a laptop alone won’t cut it. Enabling every employee with a full-featured, intuitive collaboration experience that allows them to message, meet, call, share content, cocreate and collaborate from anywhere is a foundational requirement for the hybrid workplace.

Choosing a collaboration platform

The most important choice for powering remote teams is choosing the right collaboration platform. When looking for the right solution, consider the experience. Can you extend the same capabilities to remote workers and in-office workers? Can people easily switch between messaging, calling and meetings? If a whiteboard is created, can it be accessed by the entire team, anywhere? Can people expect the same experience from technology whether they are at home or in the office?

Choosing a provider that works seamlessly wherever people are will lead to higher efficiency gains, streamline your deployment and management, and lead to a greater overall return on your investment.

Collaboration technology for remote workers

Attending back-to-back meetings on your laptop causes poor posture, fatigue, and poor collaboration experiences from background noises and low-quality cameras. In the survey mentioned above where 98% of workforce said they experienced frustrations with video conferencing while working from home, the top frustrations were from the audio experience, long hours spent on their laptop and concerns about the appearance of their background.

While many organizations believe a laptop is good enough, it’s apparent that remote workers need better experiences.

Video Conferencing Software

The journey to the hybrid workplace starts with your technology choice. Do you have the right functionality that provides advanced features that make it easier for people to connect, collaborate and work? Choosing a platform that has intelligent features like noise suppression, virtual backgrounds, and a meeting assistant that can capture notes and take action items will help ensure that the meeting stays productive, everyone pays attention and people remain productive and informed after the meeting.

See how Webex deliver better remote experiences

Messaging

While face-to-face is best for connecting with colleagues, there’s always a lot that goes on behind the scenes to get work done. Reuters recently highlighted a study showing 40% of people who use email to communicate at work, rather than texts or instant messages, often felt lonely. There are better ways. Messaging applications are replacing the overflowing inbox. Quick face-to-face meetings are replacing phone calls. We’re living in a new age of communication where being authentic and connecting with people over distances isn’t just easy, it’s necessary.

Business Headsets

59% of workers say a high-quality headset would improve their meeting experiences at home. Headsets are a key element for high-quality audio especially in shared spaces, and it’s important to realize that business and consumer headsets are different.  Consumer headsets primarily focus on sound quality and user experiences, while business headsets also focus on voice quality, ease of integrations with collaboration platforms, and manageability and support by IT departments. Business headsets are the “virtual backgrounds” of audio with advanced features, such as active noise cancellation and background noise reduction, that help people stay focused and productive by reducing background disruptions.

Video Conferencing Devices

Dedicated video conferencing devices promote fatigue-free, natural experiences and offer high-quality, face-to-face interaction with the same collaboration capabilities you’d expect to find in the office. They are AI-enabled to help remove the friction points, suppress background noises, and provides blurred or virtual backgrounds to minimize distractions. The meeting happens on your video device, so your laptop is free from processing the audio and video while simultaneously running the meeting software—no overheating devices, no distracting fans; just a stellar experience.

Empowering teams to engage in creative collaboration while working remotely is a challenge. Whiteboarding software can help, but the experience can differ depending on what tools each person has at home. Video conferencing devices with touch-capabilities can create an experience where everyone feels like they are in the same meeting room with face-to-face interactions, dry-erase markers, and sticky notes. Your ideas become evergreen, every inspirational, whether they’re in their personal office or a meeting room.

It’s not one-size fits all strategy

Different types of work require different types of collaboration capabilities. Determining which employees need which capabilities isn’t an easy task and will take analytics to continually optimization. Outfitting every home office with high-end collaboration solutions can get expensive and if they go unused, it’s an unnecessary expense. A good starting point is to determine which groups require an experience that is similar to in-office meeting room experiences. Equip those employees with a collaboration device that will allow them to co-create, share ideas and enjoy a high-quality experience throughout their day. And if an individual contributor has few meetings or is more likely to connect to their colleagues on audio-only meetings, supply them with a device that will be cost-effective while meeting their needs.  

Choosing the right platform and device for you

Providing remote workers with the right technology is essential to business continuity, but the organizations that emerge stronger from the pandemic are the ones that are thinking strategically, with a long-term vision for the future of work. Building the foundation for the hybrid workplace in the first phases will ensure that your organization is well positioned to adjust and excel in the years to come.

Intelligent workplace solutions from Webex supports the modern workforce. From the home office to the boardroom, displays, sensors, AI, and automation deliver technology-driven experiences and accelerate transformation to keep workers safe and productive.

See how you can improve collaboration and keep the community in the hybrid workplace with Webex.

Read the next blog in the series, or jump around:

  1. The hybrid workplace blueprint 
  2. Planning the safe return to the office  

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