Offices are coming back to life around the world as COVID-19 restrictions ease and workplaces become safe to re-enter. As we now have the option to go back to the workplace, things are going to be very different.
As we get comfortable with the NEW workplace, we will start to realise that common practices in the office, especially meetings, will be different and present new challenges for employees.
Here at MOQdigital, our offices are open for staff who are COVID-Safe and would like to come back in, and we have found that people prefer to split their time, working some days in the office and others days at home. Because of this, meetings are different. In the past, 95% of our meetings were in person as we were working in the office full time, with the occasional person having to call in remotely. For most people, working remotely presents a new reality for our meetings. When everyone is working from home, the meetings are seamless, and everyone engages with the screen as that is the only channel to communicate with colleagues. When everyone is in the office, we can interact physically and read cues to continue the meeting. But as we move through this COVID-19 period, the playing field stops feeling even. How do we keep all participants feeling engaged in our new meeting format while split between in person and remote?
We spoke to Andrew O’Leary, our National Practice Manager for our Converged Communications and Security practice about how he thinks we keep our staff engaged and what he thinks the future for meetings will be. Andrew mentioned that software like Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex will be key for meetings.
Andrew suggested that choice of software between Microsoft and Cisco is often dependant on your existing investment and future strategy. From a meetings perspective, they’re very similar applications, however each offer their own unique benefits once you extend into other areas of the platforms and further into their respective ecosystems.
Webex has strong compatibility with traditional meeting room technology and works exceptionally well across different branded devices, as well as being highly integrated with Cisco Webex meeting room systems. For the meetings where the majority are in the office on laptops, Microsoft Teams is great to use as Teams provides a one stop platform, or “hub for teamwork” for instant desktop collaboration, chat and connection, which is highly integrated into the Microsoft 365 suite.
Andrew also suggested that the future could incorporate more room booking devices. In meeting rooms before COVID-19, people often book reoccurring meetings and then promptly forget about them, leaving the room empty when it could have been used by someone else. In a post COVID-19 environment, meeting room real estate is at an all-time premium, demanding efficient utilisation. Having a room booking system allows people who are in the office to RSVP on a device and let people know if the meetings are happening. If they aren’t in the office, you can take the room and forget about that reoccurring meeting that has no one present.
Our future of working is going to be very different, and we have already seen some major changes. We have succeeded at working from home, and unified communications software has assisted in building connections. We will need to learn how to engage in meetings regardless of their location. Our practices in the workplace will be different, which is the new norm we will have to adapt to.