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No substitute for office life

Barco ClickShare is advising businesses to invest in technology to support hybrid working environments post-COVID-19

Lockdowns across the world have transformed attitudes to home-working, causing businesses and their employees to reassess established working practices and question the need for dedicated office space.

In March, as home working en masse evolved from theoretical possibility to real-life experiment, people quickly realized its benefits. For workers, these include better work-life balance, time and money saved on commuting, more flexibility. For employers, less need for expensive office space and the freedom to recruit from a wider area.

In time, the novelty of working from home has gradually worn off and people, as they always do, have begun to miss what was lost and long for a return to the office. Just not every day.

In a global survey of 1,750 white collar workers conducted by Barco ClickShare in September, 49% said they enjoy working from home now less than they did at the start of the pandemic:

*42% feel it stifles their creativity;
*37% miss office social life;
*37% find it harder to collaborate when working remotely;
*29% find contributing to meetings difficult; and
*28% complain of being easily distracted at home.

As well as uncovering the shortcomings of home-working, Barco’s survey highlights the value of office working for collaboration and team-building:

*45% find it easier to work with colleagues in the office;
*45% like the social aspects of office life;
*44% value ‘water cooler moments’ for spontaneously sharing information with colleagues.

For these reasons, in the future, employees want to spend a maximum of two days a week at home. Just 15% want to continue to work from home full-time once coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.

So called hybrid working, where people spend some days at home and some days in the office, is emerging as the preferred post-pandemic workstyle, with employees retaining the flexibility they crave and employers gaining scope to save money on office space.

Better collaboration
Barco ClickShare points out that in order to maximise the benefits of this way of working, businesses will need to invest in new technology, which, in its area of specialism, means collaboration solutions that support hybrid meetings involving in-person and remote attendees.

One of the surprising findings of Barco’s survey is a clear preference for formal rather than ad hoc meetings, suggesting that the trend for informal huddle spaces might be on the wane. Three quarters (75%) of those surveyed said they prefer scheduled meetings over impromptu ones, with 50% expressing a preference for formal meeting rooms.

After standard meeting rooms, video conferencing rooms are the most commonly used collaboration spaces in offices. Three quarters (77%) of respondents use video conferencing rooms at least once a week, with 28% using them every day.

Not surprisingly, video conferencing technology is the most popular area for investment, identified as a priority by one in three workers.

Bring your own meeting
The ‘Bring Your Own Meeting’ trend that was growing before COVID-19 – where employees want to use not only their own devices but also their preferred conferencing solutions – has continued apace during the pandemic.

Indeed, Barco’s study shows that the laptop is now the single most important work tool for employees:

*77% say they couldn’t bear to be parted from it while at work;
*56% prefer to host video calls from their laptop, compared to 19% who prefer in-room systems and 18% who like to use their smartphone;
*54% still use their laptop camera even when they are in a meeting room, despite growing use of in-room cameras (projected to grow from 30% to 40% in one year’s time).

A better experience

While 49% of respondents still say that collaborating remotely with colleagues, clients and others doesn’t come naturally to them, the number of people who believe meetings have improved over the last 12 months outstrips the number of those who believe they have got worse by a factor of nearly two to one.Moreover, the expectation is that technology will continue to improve meetings in the future, with 56% saying apps for joining a video conference in one click should be available within the next year (if they are not already). Voice recognition technology, software for remote co-creation and Instagram-style filters for video conferencing are expected by most within two years.

Business Info Magazine & Site is Published by Kingswood Media 2022