Gartner’s recent report, “Forecast Analysis: Remote and Hybrid Workers, Worldwide” estimates that in 2022, remote workers will account for 53 percent of the U.S. workforce. “A hybrid workforce is the future of work, with both remote and on-site part of the same solution to optimize employers’ workforce needs,” said Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner.
Knowledge Workers Unite
Knowledge workers have demonstrated they are productive working from home, and many have voiced a preference to continue working at least some part of the work week remotely. A Forbes January 2021 article boldly headlined, “Companies are Shedding Their Real Estate Footprint in Droves (opens in new tab).” While corporations reconfigure workspaces and downsize, surveys suggest that workers want to have the ability to interact in person for ideation.
“Employers will be faced with several challenges, such as keeping workers motivated and connected,” said Julie Johnston, founder of VisionLoft Events located in downtown Indianapolis. “In addition, new staff who might not have an opportunity to meet colleagues in person will need to feel a sense of belonging.”
With a decrease in the office footprint, there is a greater need for intentionally planned, all-team collaboration events for connection and creativity. “The intent of these meetings may be strategic with goals of increased collaboration or to create meaningful team experiences,” Johnston added.
In a recent Steelcase study, “Changing Expectations and the Future of Work (opens in new tab)”, five critical employee needs were identified that will change the overall work experience: safety, belonging, productivity, comfort, and control.
A Vision and Maybe a Crystal Ball
“The intent of these meetings may be strategic with goals of increased collaboration or to create meaningful team experiences.”
Johnston possesses a deep working knowledge of how teams collaborate, how they move and interact within spaces, and how various technologies help facilitate meetings and idea-sharing. As the director of Learning Spaces at Indiana University (IU), she has designed award-winning interactive classrooms and other collaboration spaces.
In addition to her full-time position at IU, in 2018, Johnston and her husband opened VisionLoft Events (opens in new tab). Located in downtown Indianapolis, Johnston describes VisionLoft as a “high-end digital space designed specifically to facilitate collaboration and ideation.” Of course, nobody knew that two years later, her vision would become a necessity to help now disparate teams connect in meaningful ways.
“VisionLoft is a vibrant and festive space that creates an atmosphere conducive to support creativity while also feeling like home, where guests can convene around carefully designed soft seating arrangements,” Johnston added.
The impact of the pandemic has increased the workplace focus on employee wellness. “We have intentionally improved the biophilic designs to incorporate creativity and overall wellness into the meeting space,” Johnston said. “Additional plants were added to the space, and a variety of music playlists were created with a variety of moods in mind.”
The VisionLoft space incorporates two types of Epson LightScene projection devices to display various personalized content on the floor and black wall for an event. “Each event is personalized to incorporate the team’s values in a variety of ways, including quotes, videos, logos, and imagery,” Johnston said.
“When VisionLoft was designed, we knew we needed to provide clients with the flexibility to access a variety of content from a variety of sources,” Johnston said. Crestron’s DM NVX provides an agile system that enables event coordinators to easily route its clients’ content to the desired interactive wall displays, dual-screen projectors, and high-end glass whiteboards via the handy Crestron app. The system also uniquely equips VisionLoft with the ability to accommodate a variety of special requests, including bringing in virtual participants during a creative meeting.
“Today, collaborative events must enable hybrid connectivity,” Johnston explained. “Meeting spaces will increasingly require user-friendly, stable, and ready-to-use technology with opportunities to leverage collaborative technologies in the cloud to continue conversations remotely after the face-to-face event.”
Greenlight Guru, a quality management software company, has leveraged VisionLoft to convene meetings during the pandemic. “We had a need to hold dynamic executive meetings and were faced with the challenge of remote team members in critical meetings,” said Greenlight Guru’s CEO, David DeRam. “VisionLoft’s technology and space provided an ideal fit for us. The technology allowed us to have a large screen that managed the Zoom connections and another screen handling the collaborative materials. The space allows us different options for layouts and the size of the team. This allowed us to be creative and courageous in multiple strategic planning sessions at VisionLoft.”
The Future of Collaboration
As the workplace evolves, VisionLoft will continue to seek new, creative technologies and ways to ensure that its clients’ needs are addressed, including safety, belonging, productivity, comfort, and control. Check out the space here (opens in new tab).