Enabling inclusive meetings for the hybrid workplace

Enabling inclusive meetings for the hybrid workplace


Businesses must invest in audio technology to deliver fully hybrid meetings that are productive for all

Joe Debold |

The future of hybrid work is continuing to take shape as an increasing number of meetings are hosted virtually. 

According to a white paper from audio solution provider EPOS and research firm Ipsos, titled The Future of Meeting Rooms in the Post-COVID World, today’s employees now spend an average of over seven hours a week in virtual meetings. This represents an increase of two hours per week in 2021.  

With more businesses looking to take advantage of the time and cost benefits of meeting virtually rather than in-person, ensuring that the quality of those meetings is of the utmost importance. And while high-quality audio is key, finding success in the hybrid working model is about more than just investing in the right headsets. Rather, it’s about having an entire ecosystem of devices – including both audio and video solutions – to enable today’s professionals to thrive in the hybrid world. To do this, organisations will need to invest in technology that both the speaker and listener can have confidence in.  

Our research has shown that 88 per cent of decision makers say that bad audio has caused their company issues, but 77 per cent of those decision makers also think that the right technology can alleviate those problems. This underscores the need for businesses to equip their employees with the right technology so that they can focus their full attention on the content of the conversation and engaging with those involved.  

As we adjust to a new way of working, we find ourselves constantly moving in and out of cluttered sound environments – both at home and at work. Our brains struggle to process the sounds coming from headsets and speakers, as well as people in the room. Such sound environments result in cognitive overload, leading to concentration loss, tiredness and stress.  

At EPOS, we understand that we hear with our ears, but we listen with our brains. So, to perform at our best, we need to help the brain adapt to artificial sound environments. Ultimately, it all comes down to understanding how the brain makes sense of sound. A great audio experience only happens when technology supports the brain’s listening process, helping it to perform as intended.  

EPOS has collaborated with Microsoft to develop a range of speakerphones and video conferencing solutions that help employees worldwide communicate and perform better. In early 2022, we announced our newest meeting room solution, an all-in-one video bar with the EXPAND Vision 5. Paired with its EXPAND Control, the EXPAND Vision 5 is Microsoft certification pending and includes two integrated speakers and four microphones. It is ideal for small meeting rooms and enables businesses to easily control meetings using the large touchscreen display on the EXPAND Control tablet, allowing users to easily join meetings without needing their own laptops.  

Now that we have accepted and successfully transitioned into this ‘new normal’ and the hybrid workplace, it is important to recognise that we have reached a critical moment in time. There is a big opportunity for businesses to really rethink the meeting room and adapt it to fit the modern way of working. By doing this, businesses can create an environment where their employees, customers and partners can all be productive, regardless of their location. The first step is to invest in advanced intelligent technology, such as speakerphone and video solutions, to deliver even richer experiences for remote and in-room meeting participants.  

Joe Debold is vice president of sales at EPOS 

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2022 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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