18 - May - 2021
New Technologies for The Conforming Workplace.
As the nation and our communities are witnessing increasing numbers of citizens becoming fully vaccinated, organizations are beginning to accelerate their plans to bring their workforce back into their office spaces. Recently the goal was announced to achieve at least one shot in more than 70% of eligible citizens arms by July 4th.
The expectation is that by the 2nd half of 2021 we will return to more normal life. After over a year of remote working, hybrid learning, and observing pandemic related precautions, significant progress has been made in flattening the curve and creating vaccines. This is allowing many states and large cities, to relax the restrictions and forecasts show a wave of economic confidence for both consumer and corporate business in the second half of 2021. In planning their return to work, some companies are considering a full return while others are considering hybrid mode.
In a recent white paper, Because One Size Doesn’t Fit All, we introduced the concept of The Conforming Workplace as a solution for the post-pandemic workplace. The Conforming Workplace is an approach to creating a workplace that combines furniture, architectural products and technology solutions to make the workplace more fluid to meet the needs of the workforce rather than forcing the workforce to fit the space available to them.
Most market research studies and industry forecasts project a shift in the role of the workplace to one that is more oriented to more collaborative activities among the employee base while allowing the workforce to continue some degree of work from home flexibility where they are more efficient in focusing on their independent tasks.
This will present new challenges and opportunities for technologies to continue to support the necessary connectivity and professionalism—in the office and at home—in order to enhance long-term productivity. In The Conforming Workplace, spaces will morph into a variety of uses throughout the day and across the weeks.
At one point in the day, people will be working at their desks in their respective workstations. Later in the day, they’ll push the tables together to form an impromptu collaborative space. At moment’s notice, they might choose to patch in a colleague who is working from home that day in by Zoom. While in-person collaboration and meetings will continue to return to more normal times, Zoom and other videoconferencing will certainly continue. You’ll want your workplace to be capable of adjusting to those changing acoustical environments.
Agility Rules the Day
Certainly, organizations will continue to have a certain number of various sized conference rooms where monitors, cameras, microphones and all of the other requisite technologies will be installed. Now, with an increased number of collaborative spaces throughout the workplace, the ability to wheel in those same technologies for an impromptu meeting will become increasingly more important to support the productivity of the team using these spaces. And, setting up private offices and workstations with the necessary monitors, speakers and microphones to accommodate videoconferencing with co-workers, customers and suppliers will enhance the productivity and professionalism of your employees.
The Acoustical Dynamics of the Office Will Be in a State of Flux
Between open collaborative spaces, various areas of your workplace taking on multiple roles, and the likelihood of numerous videoconferences occurring simultaneously, the acoustical dynamics will be constantly changing. For those working at their workstation in close proximity to a collaborative space, they’re going to prefer sound masking that will allow them to remain focused on their work.
Using the example above where workstations convert into a collaborative table, that space will need more open acoustics for collaboration and the ability to dampen acoustics to avoid disruptions when employees are trying to focus on their independent work. And throughout the day, with the likelihood of having multiple employees on videoconferences, the sophistication of sound masking and managing the changing acoustical dynamics in the workplace will be vital to allowing the collaborators to collaborate while accommodating the need for focus among employees who are trying to get work done.
Upping Your Work from Home Game
How many times have you been on a video conference where someone put the shared document on their external monitor and they’re looking at the monitor so their head is turned away from the camera on their laptop? You’re wondering to yourself, are they paying attention or are they scrolling through Instagram or shopping online. New technologies that integrate displays, cameras, speakers and microphones that are Bluetooth enabled will allow your employees at home to avoid those awkward circumstances.
There are a whole host of tools and products available that can help organizations successfully implement a post-pandemic workplace that enhances collaboration, preserves the ability to work independently and improves employees’ professionalism when working from home.