Over the last few months, we’ve been working on upgrading our meeting space on the Plaza in Kansas City into a complete hybrid solution. It’s an important project because remote and hybrid work isn’t going away. A survey by Capgemini Research Institute shows that one-third of companies expect 70% or more of their employees to work remotely in the coming years.
Hybrid work requires different tools and technology than on-site or fully remote work. People need to be able to move seamlessly from home to office and back again. You may have meetings or events where some employees are together in a conference room while some are on a video conference. While the virtual experience may never be completely on par with the in-person experience, you want to narrow that gap as much as possible.
I don’t want to get too specific on the technologies we’re using—in many cases, we’re still investigating and evaluating solutions. However, I thought it would be helpful to share some considerations to keep in mind when setting up hybrid workspaces for your team members.
Providing a virtual setup at home
When offices shut down in early 2020, many people brought their office equipment home or used personal devices to perform their company work. While everyone did what needed to be done in a crisis, that haphazard approach isn’t viable long term.
We recommend that firms provide everything from the desk up. In other words, employees provide their desk, chair and other office furniture while the firm provides the laptop, camera, screens, etc.
A uniform setup makes it easier for your IT team to assist when needed and ensures your team members have exactly what they need to connect to their workflows and with each other.
Providing a collaborative space in the office
When people are on-site, they still need to be able to meet with employees and clients wherever they are in the world. So how do we create that collaborative space?
At the most basic level, employees need a camera, microphone, and a computer or laptop that can connect to Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
But larger meetings with both in-person and remote attendees might need a little more thought to be truly collaborative. Some ideas to consider include:
Video displays—TVs or projectors and screens—to bring remote attendees’ faces into the room
Audio systems so on-site people can hear remote participants
Microphones to capture audio
Cameras that intelligently track speakers
Remember, the size of the room matters. A big conference room needs a big solution, while a small conference room with a single table doesn’t need to be that elaborate.
Chances are, you’ve been in a meeting with a handful of in-person participants and one or two people calling in on a conference phone. In most cases, the people calling in have difficulty hearing what’s happening and knowing who’s speaking. Meanwhile, the on-site attendees forget about the caller.
Putting some thought into your hybrid meeting setup can help avoid that disconnect by leveling the playing field for all employees regardless of where they might be.
Could your firm benefit from getting firm management and IT leaders in alignment?
The Boomer Technology Circles are a peer group of firm and technology leaders in the accounting profession who benefit from aligning IT and firm strategy and building valuable long-term relationships with solution providers and peers. Apply now to start building confidence in your firm’s technology decisions.
As a Technology and Business Analyst for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Chris Rochford leverages a diverse background in web development and technology consulting. His role involves managing Boomer Consulting, Inc.’s internal technology, as well as researching how new and emerging technologies can be leveraged internally and for our external clients.
Before joining Boomer Consulting, Inc., Chris spent 15 years in tech, doing web development for state and local government agencies and commercial clients.