The global pandemic may have forced companies to dive into remote work and hybrid office models, but the forced experiment has proven to be a success. In fact, 83 percent of employers categorize their shift to remote work as “successful.” The takeaway is clear: The question isn’t if companies will embrace the hybrid office, but rather when the transition will be complete.
“Hybrid teams have become table stakes,” says Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs, a leading collaborative technology company. “Flexibility in where and how they work is now what employees expect. Our day-to-day work lives have been fundamentally altered, and there’s no going back.”
Hybrid here to stay
It’s clear that fears surrounding employee productivity in remote scenarios were unfounded. Owl Labs recently conducted a survey that found 75 percent of remote employees maintained or increased their productivity while working remotely.
With remote work here to stay, the traditional workspace will have to evolve. “Offices will serve as destinations for collaboration,” Weishaupt predicts. “Employees will return to work in waves, if at all. A desk per employee is an idea of the past. And all spaces will need to be wired for collaboration as the expectation that all teams will be in the office, all at the same time is no longer a reality.”
The right tech
Weishaupt thinks the shift to hybrid offices has many benefits to offer. “Think: a larger recruitment pool, employee retention, a recruitment tactic, and company cost-savings. After realizing the benefits and choosing to implement hybrid work policies, companies will now need to solve for keeping employees connected, productive, and collaborative, wherever they may be,” he says.
Ensuring that employees will still be able to engage, collaborate, and easily share knowledge will require a new approach to the physical office space — but also a new investment in technology.
Owl Labs has deep experience in building collaborative technology, with much work in 2020 rooted in education. “In the education sector, face-to-face interaction was crucial,” Weishaupt notes. “Engaging students, many K-12, can be a challenge on a ‛normal’ day in-classroom. Administrators, teachers, and IT leaned on the Meeting Owl technology to bridge the in-classroom and virtual learning divide. The feedback was overwhelming: students could see their peers, virtual students could easily and actively participate, and teachers could continue teaching the way they have always taught, rather than having to focus on where the camera was in the classroom.”
Weishaupt says companies exploring hybrid workplace policies need to think about three key aspects.
“Be remote-first,” he says. “Think about those that might not be in the room, to ensure they can actively participate and that no good idea is left unturned. Set new expectations. Allow employees to work from where [they are] most productive and implement clear hybrid policies.”
The final key is choosing the right technology. “Communication tools and video technology are the new key drivers to successful teams,” Weishaupt says.
Owl Labs makes several immersive, collaborative video products that offer 360-degree perspectives, like the Meeting Owl Pro, which was named one of the Best Inventions of 2020 by TIME Magazine. “That creates active collaboration for teams, leading to more engagement and deeper thinking,” notes Weishaupt. “Our 360-degree camera, mic, and speaker powered by our proprietary technology autofocuses on who is speaking in a room or space resulting in a near face-to-face experience.”
From Weishaupt’s perspective, the shift to embrace hybrid work is all an upside. “When companies implement a remote-first mindset, employees will feel the inclusivity outside in, and be energized to actively contribute,” he says. “We know the deep connection video can provide both professionally and personally. With the right tools and technology, your team’s collaboration can thrive. Tech shouldn’t be limiting or obtrusive, but rather additive and serve as the foundation for deeply connecting experiences.”
To learn more about offerings from Owl Labs for empowering a hybrid workforce, visit https://owllabs.com/.