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April 11, 2023
Remember the tagline for the movie “Alien”? “In space, no one can hear you scream.” It may be going a little far to say that’s how remote workers feel when they meet in a hybrid workspace. But, unless a company is focused on providing a productive and equitable experience for all hybrid meeting participants, some workers may feel like they are not being heard — literally and figuratively.
And that’s not OK — not for any business focused on equity and not for any business that wants to remain competitive and acquire and retain talent. Helping customers create equitable hybrid meeting spaces is an incredible opportunity for partners.
Indeed, the future is hybrid. People who work in a hybrid model are happier and more productive, and those looking for a job say working closer to home is a top criteria, according to research from workplace solutions company IWG. Hybrid work is also better for the environment and more profitable for businesses, the research finds.
But an effective hybrid model is about much more than a mix of people working remotely and in a physical workspace, especially when it comes to meetings. While people sometimes complain about the number and length of meetings they go to in any given week, meetings are where ideas are shared and problems are solved and plans are made.
But all of that can happen only if meetings are productive, and meetings can be productive only if they are equitable for all participants.
Meeting equity is the ability for all meeting attendees to be fully seen, heard and engaged — no matter their device, language or experience level. It can be challenging to create equity even in a meeting where all participants are in the same physical space, but those challenges increase exponentially when some people are together in a physical workspace and some are joining from a remote location.
Sara Osterhaus, People & Culture Business Partner at Logitech, notes that it is natural for the people in a room to focus more on each other and less on workers, partners and customers who are remote.
To create a more equitable meeting space, teams should work together to establish a set of guidelines. For example, discourage side conversations that leave some attendees — especially remote attendees — out. Acknowledge all participants in the meeting, and take time to intentionally invite remote participants to provide input.
A set of norms agreed upon by the team will go a long way toward creating equitable meeting spaces, but it’s not enough.
Hybrid work — including hybrid meetings — is video- and collaboration-first. To fully reap the rewards of hybrid work and create equitable meeting spaces, companies must provide not just the right tools for the job but the best tools for the job — in both remote and office workspaces. Yet, three in four people believe their home office setup is lacking at least one piece of equipment, according to Logitech research.
At minimum, companies setting up employees to work remotely must provide high-quality:
External webcams: The webcams built into standard-issue laptops do not cut it when it comes to professional- looking video interactions. In a Logitech remote work study, 65% of respondents said the angle of the built-in camera on their computer is unflattering, making them look bad. Sixty-four percent said the built-in camera makes it look as though they are not looking at others on the call, and 63% said they look better in real life than they do on camera.
High-quality headsets: Sixty percent of the respondents to the Logitech survey said they struggle with poor sound quality through their computer’s built-in speakers, while 66% struggle to hear on calls because of background noise and 58% are distracted by noises in their remote workspaces. Almost half of respondents said they have a hard time connecting their earbuds/headphones to their computers.
Equipment for adjusting physical workspace: Many people in the Logitech survey said they struggle with ergonomics, with 70% saying they are uncomfortable after sitting for long periods during a call. About half of respondents said they experience distractions throughout the day due to the many adjustments they have to make to their equipment, their surroundings and to themselves to more effectively engage in online work.
Onsite meeting rooms must also be optimized to include remote participants. It’s one thing to say that participants in meeting rooms will acknowledge remote colleagues and provide opportunities for them to be heard. It’s quite another to enable that in an efficient and productive way. It takes intelligent cameras that provide both room context and individual speaker views, collaboration capabilities such as whiteboard sharing, participant framing tools that provide more equitable representation of everyone in a meeting, and tight integration with platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Hybrid work is here to stay, but productive and equitable hybrid work requires intention and investment. Partners have an opportunity to help their customers define the hybrid workspace and put people, products and processes in place that will make that vision come to life. For more information on Logitech’s solutions for enabling equitable hybrid workspaces, click here.
This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.
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