Technology Record - Issue 28: Spring 2023

116 INTERVIEW Equity, engagement and comfort Jabra’s Aurangzeb Khan discusses how businesses might deliver the best possible hybrid meetings with equitable experiences for those working in the office and remotely BY ELLY YATES-ROBERTS Workplaces have changed significantly in recent years. From entirely officebased operations to fully remote, and now a combination of the two in hybrid working models – businesses need the tools to help them adapt to this new landscape. Aurangzeb Khan, senior vice president of intelligent vision systems at Jabra, highlights a finding from the firm’s own research – that 67 per cent of the companies surveyed are adding more collaboration zones and redesigning their office spaces into ‘super offices’ that enable next-level collaboration. Jabra's research also found that today’s workforce is split between office and remote working. “The majority (80 per cent) of meetings are hybrid, and there are often more remote participants than not,” says Khan. “However, many of these interactions are focused on sharing ideas, building relationships and getting things done, so you need a physical space that facilitates that.” Effective technology is essential to delivering these reimagined spaces. “Hybrid meetings can be incredibly productive and have saved us over the past few years,” says Khan. “Despite being thousands of miles apart, individuals across the world can collaborate very effectively, enabling businesses to operate as usual. “A critical ingredient to delivering this is highquality audio and video, which offers a more natural experience. If I sound or look odd, there’s a cognitive dissonance that causes participants to lose focus and struggle to concentrate.” In its study, Jabra found that approximately a third of respondents said they didn’t feel included in meetings. Nearly half said hybrid meetings work, but they are not as good as in-person interactions. “If you can’t be seen or heard in a meeting, you are not an equal participant,” says Khan. “It’s a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. This is why the technology is so important. We intuitively absorb additional information in a conversation from people’s facial expressions and their body language. We pick up cues and signals on the quality of communication, but this relies on people being visible. Meeting equity is important because it enables our instincts about communication to work.” With this in mind, Khan believes that ‘super offices’ will be designed around modern collaboration devices, systems and technologies to facilitate that higher level of equity, engagement and comfort that we’ve always had with in-person meetings. Done right, hybrid meetings can even supersede in-person experiences with the ability to share information in real-time. However, many businesses struggle to manage their various systems and software – they can become oversubscribed with technology that doesn’t fit together. Jabra is helping businesses to overcome this issue by tightly integrating its solutions with Microsoft services, particularly Microsoft Teams. “There was an older paradigm of grab what you can and make do with what you have,” “ Good technology pays for itself very quickly”