There are many challenges that affect both employee and employer in hybrid working. One of the biggest challenges for remote workers is equity. This manifests itself in a number of ways, from concerns over equal opportunities due to less ‘face time’ with the boss, to feeling less involved or included in meetings when dialling in. The latter is something tech firms are looking to address and why companies like Jabra are highlighting the importance of an aligned home-tech strategy for hybrid working.
Improving equity for remote workers
“There’s a lot of discussion around meeting equity right now,” says Richard Trestain, Product Marketing Manager EMEA North for Jabra. He talks of ‘pixel real estate equity’ as becoming increasingly important. It means everyone in the meeting should have the same number of pixels representing them and those dialling in remotely should not appear smaller on the screen compared to those in the office.
Technology has evidently proved fundamental to the success of the transition to working from home. Now, the focus is how we improve and apportion that technology in a way that is fair and also ensures equity for remote workers.
Trestain has seen how other companies are doing it and innovations that firms like Microsoft are developing. “Meeting rooms are not set up for employees,” he says. “They focus on the table. You have a big long table with a screen at one end where a few people are calling in remotely. That’s not the way it can work in the future. You’ve got to face the screen and have the screen as integral to the meeting as the table.”
The hybrid home office set up
Trestain says another issue for hybrid workers is not having adequate equipment to use at home. It also feeds into the equity issue when it comes to sound and vision quality.
We are all probably familiar with the frustrations with a video call when audio drops out or people appear pixelated or inadequately lit. While there are some simple tweaks we can make as individuals, Trestain says the issue can unfairly impact people’s perception of you.
“Psychologically people think less of you if you have poor audio or video quality. They think what you’re saying is less important, has less gravitas.”
He believes organisations need to think about their tech strategy as a whole, one that aligns with both the home and office setups. In his view, headsets and speaker phones are the key bits of tech to improve the hybrid experience. “You can’t have a meeting where the audio does’t work properly. You can have a meeting with no video but you can’t really with no audio.”
Equipping remote workers with adequate equipment, he argues, also helps the IT decision makers in a business, who “feel the pain” as they have to address the tickets. “If you say the call quality was terrible, they will align that up with who was using what and generally the poor audio quality calls that get reported are attributed to people using non certified headsets,” he explains.
Why technology is fundamental for hybrid working
Technology that was previously designed for open plan office use is now becoming applicable for people who work from home. Noise isolation and noise cancelling technology that means only your voice gets picked up is now applicable for homeworkers who want to block out domestic interruptions, or noises such as lawnmowers or barking dogs.
Trestain says they build their technology to aid three pillars:
- Concentration: Allowing people to block out sound and also have high quality music that aids concentration and focus.
- Collaboration – By giving all participants quality sound and a high standard microphone to allow for more seamless collaboration.
- Flexibility – One piece of tech that can take you from home to office, for work and leisure.
Tech and flexibility
Jabra’s own report into hybrid working found 73% believe having an office space will be an employee benefit rather than a mandatory way of working. It highlights how important the tech strategy for the home workspaces will become.
It will enable remote workers and anybody working from home to have flexibility and empower them to do their job with location independence while being as productive as they were in the office.
“In general, you employ somebody to do a job and if you give them their objectives, you don’t rate their performance on how often they come into the office… Give them the power to make those decisions and you can have a very productive team which isn’t spending all its time commuting into an office because you said so,” says Trestain.
In collaboration with The Remote Work Expo and Jabra
Richard will be delivering his keynote speech at The Remote Work Expo in London on 10th March.