Technology Record - Issue 28: Spring 2023

92 INTERVIEW Levelling the playing field for those in and out of the office Crestron’s Sam Kennedy discusses how hybrid working has affected collaboration experiences and why technology is key to engaging everyone, regardless of their location 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. “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 BY ELLY YATES-ROBERTS “ We’re trying to make meeting experiences equal for those attending in person and virtually”