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Crestron Electronics, Inc.

Crestron offers the only complete end-to-end solution with a complete line of hardware and software. Crestron not only connects and controls devices; we integrate and automate all the building systems to provide a connected experience. We deliver integrated solutions for audio, video, IP, lighting and climate control making wiring and installations easier and promoting system integrity.
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Transitioning to Hybrid Work? Start with a Technology Audit
Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2023
Transitioning to Hybrid Work? Start with a Technology Audit

Creating an excellent in-office experience for the hybrid workforce begins with these questions

June 28, 2023 - As more and more businesses think about permanently adopting the model of the hybrid workforce, with its mix of in-person and remote collaborators, the process of that transition can seem overwhelming. As the pandemic triggered wave after wave of "work from home/return to office" cycles, many companies deployed "quick and dirty" communications solutions for their staff: Sticking up a single, inexpensive webcam in a conference room, for example.

Now that the global workforce is moving into a state of "hybrid permanence," the technology needs of most businesses — and educational and government institutions, for that matter — are expanding rapidly. It's become clear that in-person spaces need to be adapted to handle the needs of the emerging hybrid landscape. "Video conferencing is 50% of the hybrid experience, but when people are in the office, content presentation and sharing, scheduling, automation, and control all play a massive role in making a space work for the user," says Crestron's Senior Manager of Sales Enablement John Hesseltine.

Navigating this new reality requires expert advice — and planning at the very outset of the transition. "I think this process is so important because you can elevate the experience with very basic products," says Hesseltine. "These types of questions, the customer's answers, and the resulting solutions can really exceed the specifier's expectations." Simply put: Many of those who need these solutions "don't know what they don't know." (Further reading on these solutions — and more — can be found at the bottom of the article.)

Consider this first step: A hybrid workplace technology audit. It's a simple process, just a matter of asking a series of questions — but it's important to know the right questions. The list below should serve as something of a "starter kit" to help your C-suite and IT departments understand just what needs must be addressed. In fact, these are likely some of the questions (but certainly not all) a technology integrator will likely ask as the new systems are being designed. That technology integrator is vital to any project's success, by the way — they understand how to make every aspect of your hybrid solution work together for a seamless experience, free of glitches and frustrations.

From there, the technology for the hybrid workspace must be included in the earliest planning stages. It helps to think of technology — from AV and videoconferencing solutions to control and automation — as part of a room's basic infrastructure, just as vital as planning for, say, standard high-voltage electrical outlets. Including the planning for tech at the earliest stages prevents later modifications — changes to a space that can be extremely costly.

We've broken the audit into these six areas:

  • Staff and Policies for Hybrid Work
  • The Current Physical Space for In-Office Collaboration
  • The Right Equipment for Hybrid Work
  • Creating the Best User Experience for a Hybrid Work Model
  • The In-Office Experience for Guests and IT
  • Expanding Your Spaces for In-Office Collaboration

Staff and Policies for Hybrid Work

  1. Has your business instituted specific hybrid and remote-work policies?
  2. Have you implemented equipment policies or practices as part of those protocols?
  3. How much of your staff is remote, hybrid, or in-person?
  4. How often do you hold hybrid meetings? How many might be occurring at a given time?

The Current Physical Space for In-Office Collaboration

How many of each of these spaces does your business currently have:

  • Single-occupant desks or offices
  • Small huddle rooms or niches
  • Medium-sized conference rooms
  • Large conference or training rooms
  • Large auditoriums or lecture halls
  • Break rooms, cafeterias, lounges, or other common social areas

The Right Equipment for Hybrid Work

  1. Does each space/room have a display (or multiple displays)? Is it simple for users to connect to each display? How about multiple users connecting?
  2. How many spaces in your business are currently connected for collaboration by virtual attendees?
  3. Are you limited on rooms or collaboration spaces? Do you have a policy for booking rooms? Do those rooms get released back into the pool if meetings are canceled, or there are "no-show" meetings?
  4. Do you have flexible, multi-purpose spaces? Do certain rooms have multiple functions? (For example: Could a cafeteria turn into a "town hall" space that might need to be outfitted to broadcast to remote employees — while also using microphones, speakers, and displays in that room for content?)
  5. Do you have any needs for digital signage? Where? If it exists now, what's the use case? Can or should that signage be adapted for multiple uses, if it isn't already?
  6. What's your current room refresh cycle?

Creating the Best User Experience for a Hybrid Work Model

  1. Do your users know how to use each room? Do they all function similarly? Do you have disparate remotes, keypads, and buttons to control the room?
  2. Can you trigger a meeting with a single touch?
  3. How long does it take meeting participants to share content? Can they accomplish this in under 10 seconds?
  4. Are you standardized on a single collaboration software platform, such as Microsoft Teams® software or Zoom Rooms® software?
  5. Is your equipment standardized across a single brand, platform, or ecosystem? If not, why not?

The In-Office Experience for Guests and IT

  1. How often do guests join your meetings (such as outside salespeople, speakers, or consultants)?
  2. Is your IT team on staff, or are they a subcontractor?
  3. What's your help desk procedure, and how are tickets resolved?
  4. Are you using any kind of scheduling and/or monitoring solutions for the meeting rooms currently in use?
  5. What are your current cybersecurity systems and protocols? Could/should they be strengthened?

Expanding Your Spaces for In-Office Collaboration

  1. Do you expect your business to grow in a manner that will require more meeting spaces? Are they being added to an existing building? Will those meeting spaces be part of new construction or a repurposing (or retrofit) of current spaces?
  2. If you are retrofitting a space, does the room's building materials allow for in-wall cable runs?
  3. Are you working with an architect or interior designer as you expand? Do you plan to?
  4. What's your current Wi-Fi® communications status? How many access points are there?
  5. What have been your biggest pain points when it comes to the design, deployment, or upkeep of technology?