Sam Kennedy on levelling the playing field for those in and out of the office

Sam Kennedy on levelling the playing field for those in and out of the office

Crestron director discusses how hybrid working has affected collaboration experiences and why technology is key to engaging everyone, regardless of their location 

Elly Yates-Roberts |

Traditional meetings that saw individuals gather in one meeting room are a thing of the past. That’s the view of Sam Kennedy, senior director of product marketing at Crestron. “The world has changed over the past three years,” he says. “Today’s meetings almost always require some external participant that isn’t in the room.”  

Videoconferencing solutions such as Microsoft Teams have created an environment that facilitates distance collaboration, enabling colleagues to work together effectively and productively from the comfort of their own homes, or other non-office locations. Despite this, the meeting room isn’t entirely redundant.  

“Before the pandemic, there was a drive towards open spaces and away from conference rooms,” says Kennedy. “But we are now seeing that those returning to the office are coming for collaboration; to meet with others. To facilitate this shift, businesses need more collaboration spaces; rooms that allow focused conversation and prevent distraction to those in the meeting and others in the workplace.”  

However, meeting rooms must be equipped with the right technologies to deliver equitable experiences for those in and out of the office. “Crestron offers a range of products that help businesses to level the playing field between those meeting up together in one space, and those joining virtually,” says Kennedy. For example, Crestron Flex Room Solutions offer standardised packages to use in small, medium-sized and large meeting rooms. Each integrates with Microsoft Teams software and delivers a combination of Crestron Flex products, software and services such as the XiO Cloud and Crestron Flex Care. 

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Crestron Flex Room Solutions offer standardised packages to use in small, medium-sized and large meeting rooms

“Modern practices centred around flexible work patterns and digital technologies are changing decisively from first movers in business to the mainstream,” says Kennedy. “Early experiments and iterative explorations of hybrid work are being replaced by broader adoption and implementations as employers work on developing standard practices.”  

In fact, Crestron’s latest report titled Tackling the Modern Workplace by the Numbers found that 84 per cent of employees regularly have at least one remote participant in their meetings. “The dynamic of a meeting changes as it becomes hybrid, and trends like these are accelerating the need for decisive strategies that foster productivity and collaboration,” says Kennedy.  

With hybrid working showing no sign of disappearing any time soon, Kennedy believes that meeting equity will continue to be a major theme that drives technological innovation over the coming years. 

“We’re trying to make meeting experiences equal for those attending in person and virtually, so that everyone is more engaged,” he says. “I think we’ll see a lot more trends around making meeting room technologies easier to deploy, use and scale. This is increasingly important because businesses want and need to turn every room into a meeting room. Organisations are asking themselves how they can drive consistency for all users so that they don’t have one experience in one room and another experience in another. A consistent experience drives adoption.”  

All of these topics and more will be discussed during Crestron’s Modern Work Summit 2023, which will take place in Madrid, Spain, on 23-24 May. “The event is centered around the tipping point where many companies are in their journey towards a dynamic, digital workplace,” says Kennedy. “It aims to inspire IT managers, facilities representatives and human resources leaders to proactively rethink the modern workplace.” 

The event will also cover the cultural shifts and realignments of today’s organisational climate. Notable speakers will highlight how the physical workspace is being repurposed and redesigned and will reveal the technological factors that are pivotal in transforming how we work. 

Representatives from Microsoft, Intel, Gensler, Jabra, Accenture and Wainhouse Research will present their latest findings and learnings, while keynote speaker Philip Ross will outline a manifesto for ‘unworking’. The concept highlights unlearning old habits and rituals established for an outdated office and creating new ones fit for an age of digital technology, design innovation and diverse workforces.   

Swedish journalist Andreas Ekstrom will discuss his ideas on how to organise changes for the future of the workplace. His keynote will discuss the balance between liberty and control, independence and detailed coaching. He will consider how we make decisions in the digital workplace and how we are inventing a new idea of collective work while not being together in the same room.   

Ekstrom says: “These are the most difficult challenges for the digital decade and the Modern Work Summit will be a fantastic forum for our presenters and attendees to think forward on how to address these challenges. During the event, I’ll challenge the attendees to think, analyse and reconfigure the skills they already have.” 

This article was originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription

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