Author: Brendan Strain
Latest posts by Author: Brendan Strain (see all)

With hybrid work becoming the new norm for many, effective hybrid collaboration is more important than ever. The pandemic jump-started an already existing trend towards remote and hybrid models of work, and there’s no sign that it’s slowing down.  

While hybrid work is preferred by many employees and employers, it’s not without its challenges. Collaboration, especially asynchronous collaboration, remains a challenge. In addition, the increase in endpoints and personal devices being used remotely challenges the security of hybrid work.  

Read on to learn about the newest hybrid collaboration technology that’s addressing these challenges head-on.  

 

Work From Home is Here to Stay — And it Needs Improvement 

The experts agree that work from home and hybrid work is here to stay. In a review of the Future of Work, Microsoft cites a study that says 47% of workers preferred a hybrid model, and 32% preferred to work fully remotely.  

Despite the desire to stay remote, effective hybrid collaboration remains a pain point for employees. Distance may reduce the awareness of activities happening in the office and may make it more difficult to ask for clarification or help.  

Trust is key to facilitating hybrid collaboration. Employers need to trust that their employees are using their time productively, and employees need to trust that their time is respected. Tools that show who is working where and what contributions employees are making can help foster that trust.  

Meetings are crucial to hybrid collaboration, but they also present one of the biggest pain points for hybrid workers. Hybrid work has exponentially increased the number of meetings in an average day.

Scheduling meetings back-to-back contributes to stress and decreases engagement and focus. Features that automatically schedule 5-10 minute breaks in between meetings can help reduce these taxing effects.  

Participants in a 2021 study indicated that the most important features for most meetings were voice and sharing screens — but not video. In meetings that required trust building or conflict resolution, however, the preference was for everyone to have their video on.  

Another point of friction in hybrid collaboration is how workers use different devices. As workers move from office to home, they are often using personal and office devices to facilitate effective hybrid collaboration. The use of different devices brings up connectivity concerns as well as potential Internet of Things (IoT)  security threats.  

While most hybrid (and in-person) workplaces are using tools like Teams and Zoom, they’re not using them to their full potential.

Hybrid collaboration technology should facilitate synchronous and asynchronous collaboration across multiple channels and media, as well as reduce the frictions that multiple meetings and devices introduce into the day of a hybrid worker.  

 

Hybrid Collaboration Technology: What’s New and What to Watch  

There have been countless innovations over the past three years as hybrid collaboration has become how we work on a day-to-day basis.  Here are some of the newest hybrid collaboration technology to consider leveraging for your team.  

Gallery View  

Zoom Rooms Smart Gallery and Teams Gallery View allow remote participants to better view people that are in the room. The camera sends unique video feeds, each focusing on a different face in the room. The effect allows participants to have more lifelike face-to-face meetings.   

Whiteboarding  

Asynchronous communication is just as critical for hybrid collaboration as video meetings. Whiteboard functionality in Zoom, Teams and WebEx all allow participants anywhere and anytime to add their contributions to things like sketches, outlines, Gantt charts and more. To date, this is a relatively untapped feature that can go a long way for hybrid collaboration. As more organizations build out rooms systems, expect this type of hybrid collaboration to become that much easier.  

Meeting Notes and Summaries 

The Microsoft report notes that AI can be a powerful tool in creating summaries of important discussions in meetings and helping to uncover patterns in communication.

We all know how challenging it can be to take notes while leading or participating in a meeting, so AI-driven transcription allows for better collaboration during the meeting as well as after. Players like Dialpad, Microsoft and Zoom all stand out when it comes to this functionality.  

Smarter Meeting Scheduling  

Microsoft Outlook has responded to the difficulty of back-to-back meetings by introducing smarter meeting scheduling. When this new feature is turned on, meetings are automatically scheduled with a 5-10 minute break between them.  

Hybrid collaboration is easiest for workers who are used to working from a desk and entirely online. Collaborating with “deskless” workers — such as frontline health workers, construction workers, and drivers — can present more of a challenge, but there are an increasing number of solutions for this group as we see more innovation in the market.
 

Finding The Right Solutions  

Hybrid collaboration is the foundation for the new way that we work. The key is finding solutions that reduce friction between in-office and remote work while setting company-wide (and team-level) guidelines for how to best work together.

Our Unified Communications and Collaboration experts can help. We work with the top providers in the industry and can help you plan, design and implement your hybrid collaboration project. Contact us to talk to an expert.