Faiz Rehman Abbasi, National Business Head, India & SAARC (Collaboration), Barco

Faiz is Sales Leader for Barco’s collaboration portfolio representing India & SAARC region. Demonstrated history of working in unified communication and SaaS industry. Experience in Sales & Business Development, Channel Strategy & Management, Business Unit Management, P&L Management, Expense Management and Contract Management.

 

The rapid move to digitization on account of Covid-19 has been unprecedented. To ensure continuity, businesses globally were forced to adopt remote working almost overnight. In these testing times, technology has remained a vital link between business leaders, employees, customers, and supply chains. In the reboot that we are now looking for, the debate is no longer whether remote or hybrid work is feasible. The pandemic has proved that’s it’s not only feasible but also practical and efficient. Chief Financial Officers are unlikely to give up on the substantial savings from the reductions in business travel and smaller workplaces that remote working made possible during the pandemic. Employees may also have gained by moving to less expensive locations, or by saving on a daily commute. It’s a win-all deal, and the future of work is hybrid.

Thanks to technology, we have adapted well to the new reality. However, this is a world where collaboration may be asynchronous, happening anytime, and it is far more efficient to interact with teams over the right sight and share technology. For hybrid work to truly work overtime, we need to fundamentally reimagine work, and rethink collaboration and meetings. We need to redesign our workplaces to accommodate in-office employees and remote engagements. We need to ensure our platforms are redesigned so that everyone can attend seamlessly and without technical glitches or cumbersome connecting wires. During the meeting, the whiteboard should not only be visible to all, but even the remotest worker should be able to substantially add to the process.

We need to step in time with the right technology, to ward off the unpleasant outcome of the remote worker feeling isolated, or being denied equal benefits. Along with installing the right tech, we need to rethink our digital security, with robust firewalls to keep bad actors at bay.

Most formal tasks happen digitally extremely well. Daily meetings, online training, and even conclusive talks at the end of a transaction can be done over visual sharing technology. What’s challenging is the desire for colleagues not to miss out on opportunities for physical interactions, questions of bonding, isolation, connection, job security, access, culture, and control. These are issues that will be handled by HR teams over time. There is no one size fits all, and then move ahead requires empathy and caution, to take the business, the entire process as well as employees into due consideration. The right mix of remote, hybrid, or office-based work will keep changing for some time as organizations determine the appropriate balance to move ahead.

For the remote worker, visual media is important, to share path-breaking changes, daily progress, good news, bad news, and so on. Businesses have to look into the technologies and working practices that are needed to deliver truly flexible working. We are all now desirous of an accelerated growth period, to offset the deep economic challenges brought by Covid. Business continuity is essential and that requires adopting new paradigms of working and communicating, with the right digital tools.

According to a Barco research, moving ahead, 33% meetings will be in-person and 29% of meetings in the future will be hybrid. The report also suggested that 62% of meetings will take place in meeting rooms indicating increasing office optimism and eagerness to return to the office. This means offices will need more video-enabled meeting rooms to allow participation from remote workers. We have to make the working environment hybrid-friendly, and this can’t be seen narrowly from a meeting and virtual conferencing perspective only. It’s also about a new way to work and a new office environment that all are happy to be in and contribute substantially. The new model must-have technology that’s simple to install and in sync with new requirements. There’s also the need for reliable after-sales service and support.

The new vision must be communicated and piloted well. When dealing with hybrid teams, small connections count. The opportunity to discuss, share, connect, mentor, and network are vital attributes of a thriving office.  A hybrid workplace with the right connection tools enables that all.

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