Today, work is happening anywhere and everywhere, thanks to remote work arrangements fueled by the pandemic shutdowns.
Half of workers surveyed preferred working remotely
And with more than half of all workers surveyed by PwC preferring to work remotely at least three days a week (even after their concerns from the pandemic fade), the shift toward remote and hybrid work models will no doubt be long-lasting.
Fewer than 20% of executives expect the workplace to be like before the pandemic, and more than 80% believe remote work has been a success for their businesses. I know I’m not alone in the desire to get back into the office, but the idea of being fully in the office every day of the week looks to be a thing of the past.
As telework continues, millions of people seek new ways to stay connected with and participate in company processes. Accordingly, adaptable, innovative, and future-leaning audiovisual technology is more essential than ever.
Innovative AV tech
AV tech remains one of the most reliable solutions for building seamless interfaces between remote and in-office colleagues. What’s more, many businesses already use some form of AV technology — think projectors and video equipment in conference spaces and digital display screens in common areas. So team members already should be somewhat familiar with the basics.
However, the possibilities of what AV can (and will) do extend far beyond most workers’ imaginations.
What are some of the burgeoning trends in AV that are helping solve collaboration and communication problems and move hybrid teams forward? Below are four significant changes that are causing excitement in the AV space:
1. The need for easy-to-use systems. The future of AV tech 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 need to be user-friendly. Ideally, they integrate into workflows so seamlessly that they just become “part of the process.”
A couple of years ago, we often talked to clients about how the typical in-person meeting would start seven minutes late, primarily because of technical complications from getting the room set up for a screen-share or video call.
Over the past 18 months of largely remote work, workers have made massive leaps forward in their understanding of videoconferencing technology. Plus, the technology itself has become easier to use and more reliable.
The future workplace will demand that this ease of use continues. So when you have a 2 p.m. meeting, it starts on time — whether you are physically in the conference room or attending remotely.
2. The preference for touchless tech. After more than a year of worrying about touching communal items, employees and customers appreciate engaging with touchless tech. To be sure, touchless devices aren’t new; they’ve been used for myriad purposes, such as hands-free story walls at children’s hospitals and museums.
The same touchless systems can be developed to make it possible for workers to use bodily actions such as a hand wave to move pointers or draw images on screens.
Touchless 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 expecting them to plug those devices into ports physically, they can use contactless means to connect to microphones and other AV equipment.
As fewer and fewer touchpoints are needed to do their jobs, workers can feel better about coming into the office.
3. A demand for digital signage. It’s difficult to overstate how many uses digital signage can have in the corporate realm. A digital sign can serve a plethora of purposes, right down to acting as wall art when it’s not displaying 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 also can automate tasks, so employees have time to focus on more critical responsibilities.
For instance, some digital signs guide workers and visitors through large businesses and complex campuses. Others offer up automatically calculated team statistics, such as quarterly sales growth, customer satisfaction scores, and live inventory, which eliminates the need for someone to send out reminders and updates manually.
4. A hope for more realistic virtual experiences. Zoom and Microsoft Teams got a massive bump during the pandemic. However, people still complain that meetings with online participants don’t feel as expected and seamless as they would prefer.
AV-tech developers and designers exploring ways to innovate
AV tech developers, designers, and creators are taking these concerns to heart and exploring ways to apply innovations — such as spatial audio — to virtual gatherings.
The concept of spatial audio involves making sounds seem like they’re coming from specific directions. So often, Zoom meetings feel clunky because everyone’s talking at once, and they all seem to be talking from the same speaker. Spatial audio manipulates the volume and placement of sounds to achieve a more natural audio experience.
Already, Apple has made a move to apply spatial audio to its own offerings. As the tech becomes stronger and more dependable, it could be a game-changer for bringing remote and in-office teams together.
By all accounts, hybrid work seems to be here to stay. No doubt improvements in AV tech, such as the ones discussed here, will help usher in an era of seamless processes and systems.
These systems will make leveraging workplace tech a breeze no matter where your teams are located.