From the percentage of in-office workers, to social distancing, and other measures to help keep everyone safe from contracting COVID-19, recommendations for returning to the office have been laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local governments for various phases of reopening. As the pandemic is demonstrating that it’s not letting up, some companies are going back-and-forth between phases. Many are reopening to Phase IV levels, some are retreating to Phase I, and others are continuing to work from home. No matter the phase, it’s clear that flexible, scalable, and seamless collaboration will be keys to success going forward.
IT professionals have an opportunity to be proactive and help ensure not only the safety of employees as they return to the office but also to connect, enhance and facilitate seamless collaboration between the new in-office and remote, hybrid workforce.
In mid-March 2020, when all but essential employees were mandated to work from home (WFH) because of COVID-19, the use of video conferencing platforms Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and others soared to unprecedented levels of usage. Employees developed confidence using these intuitive conferencing tools from their laptop and consequently want to continue with the same easy experience in the office.
As the pandemic continues, and a return to the office is unfolding it is clear that the hybrid workplace is here indefinitely and could well be permanent.
In response to the new hybrid environment and workers' desires to use laptops and various video conferencing platforms in the office, IT professionals are looking for a simple solution that will also provide wireless presentation capabilities and built-in security measures. This paradigm shift is called Bring Your Own Meeting (BYOM).
BYOM embraces the fact that the laptop will be the epicenter for all collaboration, and where video calls, presentations, meetings, and remote conversations are seamlessly initiated. BYOM will facilitate the connecting of not only in-office and at home workers, but also workers located around the world from headquarters to satellite offices. In the new normal of today and the future, the laptop has become the window to the world.
Recently Tim Albright, a contributor to AV Technology, and President of AVNation, hosted Barco’s Lieven Bertier, Segment Marketing Director, Workplace, during a webinar titled “Bring Your Own Meeting.” The following are paraphrased excerpts of Bertier’s comments from the webinar. Check out the full 60-minute recording here. And be sure to watch for the next five articles in this series.
CIO’s are faced with several challenges as they quickly prepare for the new hybrid workforce. With limited budgets, CIOs need to ensure that workers have access to better technology and better tools to collaborate with in-room and remote participants.
As workers return to the office, one of the first challenges is how to move from conferencing tool to conferencing tool. There will be socially distanced face-to-face meetings, as well as meetings on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx and other platforms. There are many tools and solutions being used. Attending and hosting meetings on various video conferencing platforms might be easy on a laptop from home, but this must become equally easy in the office.
The second challenge is that in the office, meeting spaces are often set up with different brands of displays, cameras and microphones requiring different settings, not to mention needing to have the right adapters and connectors. Oftentimes software needs to be installed or updated to present. Connecting users’ laptops to in-room peripherals has always been a top challenge for IT professionals, and has been recently underscored.
The third challenge is that workers have become familiar with and embraced the laptop and they want the in-office experience to be as easy as it was while working from home using just their laptop.
All of this leads to frustrated employees when they return to the office remembering why it was easier to work from home. Whether it’s choosing their own conferencing platform, or a preferred operating system, the fact is that during the lockdown, everyone embraced new habits, and a key thing is it all starts from the laptop.
Bertier says, “The funny thing is that this is something that we discovered at Barco before the pandemic, and we called it “Bring Your Own Meeting.” It addresses, “Why can’t I use my preferred UC platform, on my preferred OS, with any room setup? We already introduced it as a concept.” In 2012 Barco introduced ClickShare.
Employees can walk into a meeting room, plug in a ClickShare Button, and wirelessly and automatically connect to in-room displays, speakers, microphones, screen share a presentation to the display, and use Zoom, BlueJeans, Microsoft Teams or several other conference platforms and host or join the call from their laptop.
The easiest way to enrich your team’s video conferencing is by enabling users to use their own laptop, preferred UC platform, and the existing room peripherals effortlessly. It should be a cost-efficient approach, and eliminate the need for meeting-to-meeting IT support.
The COVID-19 pandemic will only accelerate the need for better collaboration, and it will also increase the need for empowering end users to work how they want to work. To allow them to Bring My Own Meeting (BYOM) to the workplace. “In other words, my laptop is my window to the world, and I want to bring my own meeting,” says Bertier.
Keep an eye out for The New Hybrid Office, the second article of six in the series, BYOM: The New Normal in Today’s Workplace.