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June 3, 2022
By Nigel Penny
The world of work and education has seen utter transformation over the course of the last two years, and channel partners have had to be swift to respond. Remote working has been the key driver of this, shifting technology requirements for organisations as they’ve had to cater to a workforce both in the office and at home.
With the hybrid model appearing set to continue, organisations will look to the channel for the right technology to support this. In fact, 42% of IT decision-makers think the majority of workplaces will remain hybrid even after the pandemic.
As such, leaders in business and education have had to be more attuned to the technological needs of their staff and students than ever before, ensuring they’re able to be at their most productive regardless of their location. This has seen a shift in investment toward more collaborative and user-centric tools that help to enhance communication, collaboration and well-being – and channel partners have helped get these in place.
There remains a huge opportunity for the channel to provide technology that ensures everyone from office workers to students can benefit in this new world of work. Here are four trends to help the channel prepare for what this future might look like:
A focus on employee well-being. Working from home has highlighted the shortcomings of office technology, which hasn’t always been designed with the user’s comfort in mind. Employees can’t be expected to be at their most productive when their work setup doesn’t support physical well-being. With almost half of home workers reporting suffering injury whilst working from home due to unsuitable equipment, businesses are looking to invest in tools such as ergonomic mice and keyboards that can keep employees healthy and comfortable, and able to work at their best.
The channel can help. Solutions available include an ergonomic keyboard with a curved, split keyframe which offers better hand-and-wrist posture than a standard keyboard. Input devices such as a mouse can also cause joint and muscle issues, so providing employees with a vertical or trackball mouse can allow them to work comfortably and reduce the risk of conditions such as pronation and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Edtech is on the rise. The use of technology for education has boomed over the course of the pandemic, with schools and continuing and higher education institutions investing in tools to support online learning and minimise disruption.
To make this process as seamless as possible, there’s been an increase in solutions that support students and teachers to deliver lessons, share resources and engage in discussion. There will be more investment in innovative solutions, such as whiteboard cameras that can allow teachers to share content in real time with a clear view of the screen – even when at home.
There has also been a greater focus on peripherals designed to turn devices into effective tools for learning. For example, with the help of a keyboard case, an iPad can be turned into a mini-laptop that allows students to collaborate and learn from anywhere.
In 2022, channel partners will need to focus on their edtech offering and look to provide the education industry with the right tools to help keep students engaged and collaborative, as a hybrid style of learning may continue beyond the pandemic.
A continued demand for video conferencing. Maintaining communication between teams through video has been vital over the last two years. Not only has it ensured that …
… employees could continue to work together productively and effectively, but it has also helped to replicate the sense of connection between employees and teams that comes from being in the office.
At the beginning of the pandemic, companies were looking to make sure home workers had webcams to stay connected. As the return to the office happened, businesses invested heavily in equipping meeting rooms with video conferencing technology to make hybrid working a reality, ensuring those both in the meeting room and at home could be seen and heard in meetings, and collaborate in a way that mimicked face-to-face interaction
Heading into 2022, companies will continue to invest in technology that enhances the hybrid working experience by kitting out more meeting rooms with video. From huddle rooms to large boardrooms, the channel will be tasked with offering the right technology for rooms with varying requirements. For example, larger rooms may need a camera which can pan, zoom and focus on individuals in the room, while huddle rooms may need a smaller or portable camera, which offers quality audio for a small group of people. Personal webcams will also continue to be a focus, as employers want to provide a higher-quality camera than offered by built-in laptop webcams.
Integrated software. In line with the rise of video-conferencing technology, there has been an increased reliance on unified communications platforms such as Zoom and Teams since the beginning of the pandemic. Many organisations have overhauled the platform they use, or invested in one for the first time.
Prior to the pandemic, some organisations may have just used email and mobiles to communicate, or had a platform like Teams that wasn’t widely used. Now that employees have seen the value of instant messaging and being able to join calls at the click of the button, the next step in 2022 will be greater investment into integrating software with video. Companies will want a single platform where employees can message, schedule calls, share files and join calls.
To support, channel partners should look toward hardware that helps to simplify this experience further. In the meeting room, channel partners should consider providing conference room solutions that are accredited to their UC solution of choice and provide an integrated and native experience. This way users can walk into a room, be greeted with the familiar interface, and dial in without friction. Personal collaboration tools such as headsets can also now be accredited, featuring app-specific buttons that allow users to have an integrated call experience.
The requirements for technology by businesses and education institutions have transformed dramatically, catering to new ways of working and learning. The channel needs to support different priorities, like edtech, quality video conferencing and ergonomic home-working tools, to help employers, employees, students and teachers alike be as productive and well-connected as possible.
Nigel Penny is head of sales for Logitech Enterprise UK & Ireland, where he manages and advises the Logitech video collaboration sales department. Nigel has over 25 years’ experience within IT and telecommunications, and previously spent five years at Nycomm as a senior business development manager. He is especially interested in the rise of hybrid work and collaboration. You may follow him @Logitech on Twitter.
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