Research Hub > Optimizing Hybrid Collaboration

November 01, 2021

Use Case
6 min

Optimize Hybrid Work Using the Right Collaboration Tools and Technology

As more companies embrace hybrid work environments, it’s now just as important to think about the meeting technology to facilitate that environment.

CDW Expert CDW Expert
What's Inside

As more companies embrace hybrid work environments, it’s now just as important to think about the hybrid collaboration technology that can facilitate that environment. With approximately 50% of workers in the United States actively looking for other job opportunities (according to CNBC), using the right combination of collaboration technology resources to engage employees in a hybrid work setting is essential for retaining talent. Learn more about how the latest innovations in hybrid collaboration technology can take your working environment to the next level and engage employees whether they’re working on-site in an office or remotely. 

Decreasing Your Physical Office Footprint? Take the Opportunity to Reevaluate Your Hybrid Work Technology

As some businesses look to decrease their physical office footprints in the wake of the pandemic, this presents an opportunity to reconfigure your collaboration technology. In the new hybrid work environment, office design and conference room standards have shifted and so have technology needs along with it. While many businesses may have needed to make quick decisions about video conferencing, instant messaging, and other collaboration technology when the pandemic first hit, this is now the time to reevaluate. The latest hybrid technology offerings present an opportunity to make the new work experience better than before.

For example, one customer in the medical supplies industry approached CDW after they decided to downsize their office footprint. This customer knew they wanted to continue using the same main collaboration platform, but they also needed some custom AV integration to make that platform work in the new office space. CDW presented the customer with a statement of work in collaboration with an AV partner to propose a conference room configuration incorporating the right technology. The customer engaged CDW to set design standards and a baseline of meeting space requirements for the new office. This engagement also includes adoption services to make sure all employees are onboarded and comfortable with the new technology. As a result, this customer will have a new hybrid office standard that enables good collaboration both in the office and for those working remotely.

Implementing new technology can be a costly proposition, but this custom AV integration will allow the customer to use their existing collaboration platform and combine that with the new conference room set up. Working with an IT partner on these kinds of set ups can be a great way to ensure that you’re maximizing in-office set ups to keep employees engaged in meetings from all locations without needing to stretch your budget.

By taking a holistic view of hybrid collaboration technology and making strategic decisions about implementation, companies can foster a hybrid work environment that satisfies employees no matter their location. Because employee retention is a priority for many businesses, investing in these new technologies is important to retain talent and make employees feel connected. Likewise, evaluating and improving the in-office technology experience ensures that employees will be satisfied when they return to the office. Because this customer took the time to reevaluate their hybrid meeting set ups, that will likely result in higher employee retention — and your business can achieve that same result. 

Have a Clear Adoption and Communication Plan to Maximize Hybrid Work Meetings

As hybrid collaboration and video conferencing technologies become more complex and roll out new features, it’s important to have a clear plan to educate users on how to take advantage of all they have to offer. Onboarding the technology is not enough; generating awareness and educating employees on how to use the features is key to maximizing your investment.

CDW expert Craig Radloff explains that a phased approach is often best for onboarding new collaboration software or video conferencing features. He suggests identifying power users within your organization who can serve as early adopters and evangelists for the new collaboration features. Once those interested employees understand and use the new features, they can then cascade out that information to their coworkers. These power users are important for driving adoption and making the most of those collaboration tools. 

Establish Guidelines for Successful Hybrid Meetings

Taking advantage of the latest technology to foster successful hybrid meetings is one piece of the puzzle. In order to keep employees fully engaged, it’s also key to establish clear guidelines and standards for meeting etiquette. As Radloff explains, this involves thinking about how to run hybrid meetings efficiently for employees in the office and those off-site. For employees in the office, this might involve setting safety and security standards for conference rooms and imposing capacity limits. New AI technology can be configured outside conference rooms to display when spaces have reached capacity, and it can also be used to update the room’s meeting schedule in real-time.

For both on and off-site employees, it’s key to set consistent expectations. Technological advances for video conferencing and virtual meeting solutions can play a key role in this. Noise blocking technologies can eliminate background noise, custom backgrounds or background blurring tools can make sure employees feel comfortable displaying a tidy space on video. Companies can incorporate standard use of these features into the hybrid meeting plan to ensure that meetings are focused and provide comfortable settings for all involved. 

Follow the Steps to Implement Effective Hybrid Meetings

Let’s say you have already conducted a holistic assessment of your hybrid meeting technologies, onboarded new tools to improve the experience, and established guidelines for adoption and use. Now it’s time to think about what happens in an individual meeting. While a high-level strategy to improve hybrid meeting engagement is important, it’s also key to put those policies into practice. Making sure that every hybrid meeting effectively connects employees is key for engagement and retention. Here are some best practices to implement in a hybrid meeting.

  • Make Sure Audio Quality is Clear – In-office conference rooms should be equipped with high-quality microphones or speakerphones. Likewise, employees joining the meetings remotely should also have the necessary equipment. Consider investing in peripherals, like headsets or Bluetooth speakerphones, for employees logging in remotely. Above all, it’s important to make the audio element an equal playing field for both on-site and off-site meeting attendees so everyone can be heard.
  • Consider Visibility for Remote Participants – Make sure that your video conferencing and meeting technologies are configured so that employees attending remotely can see presentations, white boards, or other materials just as clearly as those attending in-person. That might involve setting up multiple webcams throughout the conference room so remote attendees can view the meeting from different perspectives. Creating equity for all attendees in a hybrid meeting can ensure that employees have all the necessary information and can contribute.
  • Test Technology Ahead of Time – While this might seem self-explanatory, making sure that conference room equipment is ready to go for a hybrid meeting is important. Particularly for meetings with many attendees, troubleshooting the technology ahead of time ensures that employees will remain focused. You will also want to ensure that employees using the on-site technology understand how the virtual meeting solutions work in the space. 

Connect with CDW to Optimize the Hybrid Collaboration Experience and Retain Your Company’s Talent

Taking the time to think about hybrid meeting facilitation from this more granular perspective is just as important as bigger picture decisions when it comes to current work environments. Investing in hybrid collaboration technology at a high-level and taking the time to optimize individual meetings will ensure that your employees remain engaged and supported. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing talent and needing to conduct a costly candidate search.