Remote work has been on the rise for years but has remained a minority use case overall in the U.S. and many other countries. Organizations have hesitated to broadly adopt remote work due in large part to uncertainty around its impacts to productivity. Thus, working in the office has been standard in the U.S. since the early 20th century, with live collaboration and face-to-face conversations cited as key drivers behind keeping workers in the office. And for good reason: these two components of the in-office experience aren’t easy to replicate virtually.
Numerous studies published before the global COVID-19 pandemic reported that anywhere from 40-60% of the US workforce worked remotely at least some of the time. While significant, these figures pale in comparison to the levels of remote work that have followed the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which sent the vast majority of knowledge workers to work from home virtually overnight.
Now, as the world begins to find its footing again, companies are beginning to assess their return to work strategies, looking for ways to allow employees to safely return to the office in an effort to maintain momentum and productivity across their now primarily remote teams.
However, the return to the workplace won’t be as swift as the circumstances that changed it. Employees who need to return to the office will trickle in first, as many rightfully cautious employees opt to continue to work from home, creating a dynamic blend of in-office and remote workers. And even beyond the return-to-work transition, the long term balance of remote work will likely look much greater in the post-pandemic world than it did before.
Supporting the ‘new normal’ of workplace collaboration
So how can organizations effectively and economically support the new, more dispersed workforce? And what role will meeting rooms and the technology that supports them play in the post-pandemic workplace?
There is no substitute for live collaboration, and a more dispersed workforce will fuel a greater need than ever for a unified collaboration experience between onsite and remote workers. Solstice Conference represents Mersive’s response to this challenge. By uniting Solstice’s multi-source content sharing with traditional conferencing services like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, Solstice Conference delivers the best of both worlds: the global reach of conferencing with Solstice’s rich collaboration experience. Solstice Conference also wirelessly bridges USB room cameras and microphones to the meeting host’s laptop so room audio and video can be shared into the conference session. The result is a complete room system that enhances traditional video conferencing with true multi-source content sharing.
Solstice Conference is one example of how technology can address the new needs of the post-pandemic workforce, but there are many other challenges and opportunities for meeting room technology to enable the safe return to work and deliver real value to customers in the post-pandemic workplace. If anything, the bar has been raised for meeting rooms and the technology that supports them. The footprint of collaboration spaces in the workplace will likely continue to grow as individual work tasks shift more and more to the home/remote office. And these onsite collaboration spaces will need to support not only seamless, effective collaboration among dispersed teams, but they’ll also need to enable compliance with new health and safety requirements for meeting room density, cleanliness, and hygiene.
Although these challenges will not be easy to solve, they begin to paint the picture of what the next generation of meeting room technology will look like. And through all the uncertainty, one thing is clear: these solutions will play a critical role in the safe, productive post-pandemic workplace.