Today, work is done anywhere and everywhere, thanks to remote work arrangements fueled by pandemic closures.
Half of the workers surveyed preferred to work remotely
And with more than half of all workers Polled by PwC who prefer to work remotely at least three days a week (even after their pandemic concerns fade), the shift to remote and hybrid work models will certainly be long-lasting.
Fewer than 20% of executives expect the workplace to be like it was before the pandemic, and more than 80% believe remote working has been a success for their businesses. I know I’m not alone in wanting to get back to the office, but the idea of being completely in the office every day of the week seems to be a thing of the past.
As telecommuting continues, millions of people are looking for new ways to stay connected and participate in business processes. Consequently, adaptive, innovative and forward-looking audiovisual technology is more essential than ever.
Innovative AV technology
AV technology remains one of the most reliable solutions for creating seamless interfaces between remote colleagues and in the office. Plus, many businesses already use some form of AV technology – think projectors and video equipment in conference spaces and digital display screens in common areas. Therefore, team members should already be somewhat familiar with the basics.
However, the possibilities of what AV can (and will do) stretch far beyond the imagination of most workers.
What are some of the burgeoning trends in AV who are helping to solve collaboration and communication problems and advance hybrid teams? Here are four major changes that are causing excitement in the AV space:
1. The need for easy-to-use systems.
The future of AV technology shouldn’t be so complicated that only people with IT-related degrees can understand how to use the systems.
Instead, AV devices, tools, and solutions should be easy to use.
Ideally, they are so seamlessly integrated into workflows that they simply become “part of the process.”
A couple of years ago, we often talked to clients about how the typical in-person meeting started seven minutes late, mostly due to technical complications when setting up the room for screen sharing or video calling.
During the last 18 months of largely telecommuting, workers have made tremendous strides in their understanding of video conferencing technology. Also, the technology itself has become easier to use and more reliable.
The future workplace will demand that this ease of use continue. So when you have a meeting at 2pm, you start on time, whether you are physically in the conference room or attending remotely.
2. The preference for contactless technology. After more than a year of worrying about touching common elements, employees and customers appreciate interacting with contactless technology. Contactless devices are certainly not new; have been used for countless purposes, such as hands-free walls of history in children’s hospitals and museums.
Non-contact systems using bodily actions
The same non-contact systems can be developed to enable workers to use bodily actions such as a wave of the hand to move pointers or draw images on screens.
Contactless AV can also be applied in a less obvious sense for employees who bring their own devices, such as laptops and tablets, to work. Rather than waiting for them to physically connect those devices to ports, they can use contactless media to connect to microphones and other AV equipment.
As fewer and fewer points of contact are needed to get their jobs done, workers can feel better coming to the office.
3. A demand for digital signage.
It’s hard to overstate how many uses digital signage can have in business. A digital sign can serve a myriad of purposes, even acting as wall art when it does not display messages.
Of course, when digital signage is used as a communication vehicle, it can send and display information in real time to every department, facility, warehouse unit, or other remote location.
Digital signage can also automate tasks, giving employees time to focus on more critical responsibilities.
For example, some digital signs guide workers and visitors through large companies and complex campuses. Others offer automatically calculated team statistics, such as quarterly sales growth, customer satisfaction scores, and live inventory, eliminating the need for someone to manually send reminders and updates.
4. Hope for more realistic virtual experiences.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams took a major hit during the pandemic. However, people still complain that meetings with online participants don’t feel as expected and smooth as they would like.
AV technology developers and designers are exploring ways to innovate
AV technology developers, designers and creators are taking these concerns seriously and exploring ways to apply innovations, such as spatial audio, to virtual meetings.
The concept of spatial audio involves making sounds appear to be coming from specific directions. Very often, Zoom meetings feel clunky because everyone is speaking at once and everyone seems to be speaking from the same speaker. Spatial Audio manipulates the volume and placement of sounds for a more natural audio experience.
Apple has already made a move to apply spatial audio to their own offerings. As technology becomes stronger and more reliable, it could be a game changer for bringing together remote teams and in the office.
By all accounts, hybrid work appears to be here to stay. Improvements in AV technology, such as those discussed here, will undoubtedly help usher in an era of integrated systems and processes.
These systems will make leveraging workplace technology a breeze, no matter where your equipment is located.
Image credit: laptop-gadeae; provided by the author; Thanks!