3 ways that smart technology improves remote working
Charles Groenhuijsen talks with Remco De Kramer (Senior Product Manager Modern Work at Microsoft), Joost Jetten (Head of Enterprise Benelux at Logitech), and Bart Kerkhof (Channel Account Manager at Poly) about the changing role of technology and how smart tools improve the quality of remote working.
Last year, the Covid pandemic became a huge accelerator for digital growth. When a large percentage of the worlds’ knowledge workers were forced to work from home, the adoption curve of smart communication tools skyrocketed, both in the home office as well as in the traditional workplace. This created an opportunity to be more effective and productive, and at the same time proved the importance of human connection.
We discuss three ways in which smart technology influences the quality of remote work:
Technology promotes inclusivity and equality
As social distancing regulations became more strict, a lot of people would have missed out on a lot of meetings if it wasn’t for the right software and equipment.
The growth in usage of platforms like Microsoft Teams illustrates this. From 35 million users logging in daily before the pandemic to 135 million daily active users at the end of 2020. And because of smart features like integrated whiteboards or automatically recognizing when somebody in a meeting starts to brainstorm on a whiteboard, everyone (attending remote or present in the room) can participate at the same level.
Technology restores balance
Smart tools make it possible for modern employees to have a healthy work-life balance by being able to work from anywhere at times of their choosing. At the same time, there is a need for human contact. As Joost Jetten puts it, “people always need to be part of something and be able to collaborate”.
That’s why a hybrid workplace -where some people work from home and others are present in the office- is the perfect example of the way technology restores the work-life balance by giving people a choice in when and where to work.
Joost Jetten continues, “if you have the right equipment to collaborate, with video or interactive technology, then people will have that choice.”
Smart technology improves our user experience
When team meetings were still called teleconferencing, it often happened that online meetings suffered from bad audio and video, of course resulting in a suboptimal experience for attendees.
Remco de Kramer states: “in real life, first impressions are really important, this applies to virtual meetings as well, so if you’re in a meeting with poor audio and video, this really changes the perception a customer has of your company.”
This has changed tremendously with the usage of more professional equipment like headsets, cameras, smart controllers, and the arrival of sophisticated meeting software.
Intelligent meeting rooms
Meeting rooms got a lot smarter, “It’s not just a meeting room with a video screen anymore” according to Remco De Kramer. Nowadays, a meeting room can notify attendees that too many people are present in the room (to practice social distancing) or know when all attendees are present, and the meeting can begin.
Hardware manufacturers like Poly and Logitech already started integrating artificial intelligence into their products to improve meetings and video calls. Examples of this are self-learning cameras and active noise cancelling headsets. Both Joost Jetten and Rob Kerkhof expect that in the future, AI will be even more prevalent in meeting rooms.
Simpler, smarter technology
Features like proximity sharing, automatically keeping people in the video frame during a meeting, or equipment like smart controllers made remote collaborating a lot simpler. So simple that it now can be applied to every office and be operated by everybody.