While the amount of time spent in the office may be decreasing, savvy leaders are looking to create a better environment for face-to-face collaboration.
To enrich the collaborative and meeting experience, a robust integrated technology toolkit is a must. Let’s explore how technology has a place in this ever-changing landscape.
Hybrid working – pros and cons
The clock is not turning back any time soon to the regular five days a week in the office. A nuanced approach and recognition of the pros and cons is key to making it a success.
Hybrid working brings many benefits:
- Improved productivity
- New digital skills
- Improved access to employment
- Reduced commuting and travel costs
- The paperless office
At the same time, there are downsides:
- The social deficit
- More complicated communications within teams
- Work intensification
- Lost opportunities for on-the-job mentoring
- Concerns around well-being
The importance of more quality face-to-face time
It is often overlooked that hybrid working contains an element of office working – for many as much as 60% of their working week is spent in the office.
For workers at the beginning of their careers extended periods of homeworking can have an adverse effect as they lose valuable training and development opportunities. They lose the chance to observe from senior colleagues how they should perform their role.
With no oversight and no-one to show them on the job, it is possible that new hires will pick up bad habits or make expensive mistakes due to a lack of on-the-job mentoring.
A lack of face-to-face time also impacts on the ability of new hires to learn the necessary soft skills or to navigate the company culture which is so important for future career development. These skills are challenging to learn virtually.
For new hires, time spent in the office is a great way for them to make connections and engage in casual conversations where they can learn more about the company and organizational culture.
For young people in general, working from home can be challenging as they tend to live in smaller and shared accommodation that may be inadequate for sustained long-term homeworking. For this group more time in the office provides more peace and quiet while giving them access to better resources and mentorship.
For all staff, time earmarked in the office is important for staff well-being as they get to make vital social connections. Time spent face-to-face make decision-making a much faster process than the back and forth of emails.
Leaders are recognizing the importance of employee experience in terms of decision-making – according to a recent Gartner1 research piece it was a top priority for 67% of respondents.
Designing the ideal collaborative experience
The challenge is to create an office which people want to attend and that is going to meet their needs going forward.
The concept of workers going to “my office” is shifting to them going “an office” – with the expectation that they can work anywhere.
For team working, organizations are also thinking in terms of neighborhoods where staff can sit together in a community and collaborate freely.
With the rise of hybrid working, the nature of meetings has changed with the need to be able to locate, book and use smaller rooms that are equipped with video conferencing facilities. Also, with fewer people in the office the case for smaller meeting rooms is strengthened.
As Steelcase have noted, the shift in corporate thinking is moving away from trying to simply fit more people into less space and to them being more efficient to being more about creating a diverse space focussed on community. A more human approach.
The role of technology to create the ideal working day
An integrated technology toolkit which encompasses a meeting room booking system, desk booking software, visitor management, digital signage and Outlook/Exchange integration is key.
Ideally, staff need to be able to book meeting rooms, services and desks easily in one seamless process
The Rendezvous toolkit addresses many key challenges:
Measuring space utilization – a meeting room booking system integrated with sensor technology can offer fresh data-driven insights into how the meeting space is being deployed today while offering insights into how it might be used in the future. For example, if the meeting rooms are being primarily used for small video conferences then a decision could be made to repurpose the larger rooms into smaller units of VC-enabled rooms.
Maximizing space – by the same token, you don’t want staff booking boardrooms when a small meeting room would be more appropriate. Built-in business rules in the meeting room booking system prevent staff booking rooms that are inappropriate for the number of attendees.
A comprehensive booking experience – the Rendezvous meeting room booking system is designed for hybrid working as it enables staff to locate and book rooms even across multiple locations. Double booking is a thing of the past!
Offering a great digital experience – mobility is key for today’s hybrid worker. Whether it is a meeting room booking system or desk booking software, the experience for staff needs to be mobile-first. A whole day’s worth of meetings can be easily booked with a few taps and swipes. Desks can be easily booked using a floorplan.
Mitigating against no-shows – no shows can be expensive and frustrating. Thanks to the meeting room booking system this is no problem as meeting rooms can be auto-released to people who need them. Integration with digital signage enables staff to book these vacant rooms on the fly. All the guesswork of identifying a vacant room is removed.
Organizing video conference enabled meetings – the nature of meetings is increasingly virtualized. Meeting room booking systems now come equipped with full integration with Webex/Teams/Zoom enabled rooms so staff can simply walk into the room and start the meeting automatically thanks to full start and end point integration.
Outlook/Exchange integration – thanks to integration between Outlook and the meeting room booking system, attendees are always kept in the loop of any booking, changes or cancellations.
Service provision – a key component of the meeting room booking system is being able to order catering and A/V services to provide the best possible meeting experience possible for visitors and staff alike. A simple drag and drop interface makes light work of organizing food and equipment.
Booking desks – allocated seating is a thing of the past. The desk booking software makes booking desks on a mobile app a simple process especially combined with floorplan booking. Features such as colleague search are vital in today’s uncertain workplace.
Visitor management – integration between the meeting room booking system and visitor management creates a seamless visitor experience. Entry passes with QR codes are emailed automatically to guests so they can enter the premises swiftly. Front desk staff can concentrate on making them feel like VIPs.
Wayfinding and digital signage – visitors can navigate to where they need to be and see at a glance when their meetings are taking place or if there have been any last-minute changes. Integration with the meeting room booking system enables staff to order additional catering from within the meeting – useful and efficient for any last-minute requests.
The NFS view is that hybrid working brings about many opportunities to enrich the meeting experience.
With the right technology you can create a wonderful experience where staff can freely find and book the right meeting space at the right time in seconds on their mobile device.
For the leadership team, an advanced and integrated meeting room booking system offers a wealth of utilization data which can drive future real estate purchasing and configuration decisions.
We have produced a number of free resources to help you – check out our recent ultimate guides to meeting room booking and space utilization for more ideas.
Gartner Using the Enterprise Value Equation to Make Return to Workplace Decisions