A note on the human side of hybrid
Plain as day, you can see the impact. Search #workfromhome or #remotework on any social media platform, and you’ll find witty videos about what workers are doing in their remote 9-5’s: taking meetings in the Starbucks drive-through, turning on- and not turning on- their video camera, using tongue-in-cheek corporate jargon in their daily lives. Clearly, the hybrid workplace has entered the forefront of daily life. It’s a changed human experience from the 9-5 offices of before.
With a change in human experience comes a change in human need from our collaboration technologies. Keeping these needs front and center while choosing the enterprise technologies that power our hybrid work is a must. Particularly speaking, the need for choice and flexibility, and the need for adaptable technologies that enable hybrid collaboration.
A call for choice requires consistency- and integrity- powered by software
Cisco’s first-ever Hybrid Work Index shared that 64% agree the ability to work from anywhere, versus coming into the office, directly affects whether they stay or leave a job. An overwhelming call for flexibility means that technology must be equally intuitive, functional, and manageable wherever work gets done. It’s a result that is only achieved when the array of devices you use throughout the day are connected through one software experience. As I’ve championed before, Webex Devices build one consistent collaboration experience wherever you work. It’s a consistency that can only exist when intelligently designed hardware is married to powerful software. That means the same user experience from your mobile phone when you’re joining from the car, as from your desk device when joining from your home office. Every experience, seamless and effortless, no matter where or how you work. And, as employees return to the office, the same experience for employees gathering in a conference room as for the folks that couldn’t make it in to the office that day.
But consistency requires more than the ability to access technologies from anywhere. For example, let’s say someone is taking a meeting from the waiting room of a car dealership. If the camera has a glare from the window directly behind them, or if the microphone picks up distracting background noise, collaboration starts to get complicated. Miscommunications occur when you can’t see facial expressions or nonverbal signals clearly. Thought flows get interrupted and users get stressed when audio is inconsistent. Hybrid work requires consistency and integrity. It’s why our full product portfolio, from our conference room devices to cameras and headsets used at home or on the go, are designed with intelligent features that keep the integrity of face-to-face collaboration, regardless of where you work. Our hardware and software unite to eliminate common challenges like echo, background noise, and distorted sound, which minimizes fatigue and mental strain- a human reality of long stretches of video conferencing.
The hybrid reality of multiple calling and meeting services
Such human realities are what we are solving for. In fact, it’s what drives our design from the start – a human-centered approach to deliver human experiences. Like the reality of different meeting and calling services. One of our customers, a large health insurance company, shared the concept in a nutshell: “80% of our meetings are on our preferred internal platform, but the last 20% are on everything else.” You can’t dictate the platforms that your partners and customers are using… and technologies need to function in that 20% of other meeting and calling scenarios. Imagine a cell phone that only worked with one carrier… it wouldn’t be acceptable.
Webex devices are designed for interoperability– users can alternate between Webex, Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams meetings throughout the workday, without the need to mass-deploy a third-party solution. Admins simply enable the third-party meeting service, and users can enjoy our unique device features like innovative noise removal and ‘optimize for my voice,’ regardless of meeting type. And with the newly launched RoomOS 11, collaborators get an optimized user experience across multiple meeting types- with flexible layout options, app-based task switching, and flexible screen layouts. It’s an all-new user interface that simplifies multitasking and collaboration to allow people to work together in an intuitive way, wherever they are.
A new interface to suit a new way of working. Because human experience has changed, and now hybrid work is at the forefront of our daily lives- and at the forefront of conversation. I saw a #hybridwork TikTok the other day that praised the new workplace- being a weekend warrior, romanticizing starting new hobbies after work, nodding at the work/life balance that the new 9-5 can provide. That is what we are striving for- the kind of inspiration that leads to TikTok videos. Work experiences that invoke positivity in the new normal, and intuitive collaboration that inspires.
May 12, 2022 — Shawna Anthony