Technology Record - Issue 26: Autumn 2022

128 I NT E R V I EW Creating a happy hybrid workforce AVIXA’s David Labuskes explains why organisations should focus equally on people, technology and change management when migrating to a hybrid work environment BY R E B E CCA G I B SON Before the pandemic, people accepted that they had to work in the office every day but now they have spent months successfully doing their jobs from home and enjoying the comfort and convenience this brings, most do not want to go back to the way things were. “Many senior leaders are biased towards the traditional office-based working model because their experiences have taught them that collaboration is easiest when everyone is in the same physical space,” says David Labuskes, CEO of AVIXA. “However, the proliferation of new audiovisual (AV) and other digital technologies is making it easier than ever to communicate and collaborate in both hybrid and fully virtual environments. So, rather than reverting to the old model because ‘that’s what we always do’, businesses should capitalise on the opportunity to reinvent the workplace and design an operational strategy that enables employees to remain productive and efficient at home and in the office.” While many organisations worldwide are moving towards a hybrid working model, some are struggling with the myriad of challenges it brings. According to Labuskes, this is because they tend to fixate on technology and disregard other key components of a hybrid workplace. “Businesses should start by identifying employees’ needs and preferences, then evaluate the type of tasks they perform and finally determine which technologies would empower them to complete that work in a hybrid setting,” he advises. “It’s important to ensure they provide the optimal working environment for every employee, whatever their job roles or preferred work style.” One of the biggest challenges is to find solutions that facilitate easy, equal and reliable connectivity between employees, particularly for collaborative discussions and meetings. “We’ve all experienced fully virtual meetings, been a remote attendee who had to frequently interrupt conversations to remind people to include us, or been physically present and struggled to engage equally with in-person and remote participants,” says Labuskes. “These conversations can become awkward and stilted due to technology issues or because it’s difficult to maintain natural interactions when people aren’t sitting at the same physical table.” To run a successful meeting that equally involves all participants, businesses must integrate high-quality audiovisual (AV) devices and technologies and carefully consider the layout of the physical meeting space. “Essential components include cameras, microphones, audio pick-up devices, microphones, loudspeakers and multiple displays, all of which must be placed in optimal locations around the meeting room so everyone can easily see, hear and maintain eye contact with all attendees,” says Labuskes. “ If employees know why they should be in the office, they will be more likely to return happily”