Meetings in hybrid work environments

Meetings in hybrid work environments

Insights from Wes Harper

If there was one positive thing that came from the separation period from our workplaces it was that using video calls to remain connected and maintain our sense of belonging became more common. Sure, we all knew about Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etc., but video meetings became a daily thing for us. We had to virtually open our homes and personal spaces to people, sometimes even into our bedrooms (big thanks to the platforms that gave us the blurred background option)!

I’ve had the luxury or austerity, depending on the day, of working remotely since 2011. I was accustomed to various types of virtual meeting experiences long before our extended disembarkment of the office. While how and where we meet has changed, the human need to connect and be included remains. We still need to see each other, share ideas and have social interactions that feel as natural as possible.

If you’re an experienced remote working nomad you have likely been in a meeting or two where you are listening to the person who “has the floor” but two other teammates start a side chat. Now, these two are likely talking about work but they think that they are being quiet enough that no one hears them…just a heads up, we hear you and we see you! You see in that situation as a remote participant I am trying to process what the presenter is sharing while trying to ignore the side chat going on. That makes our brains work a lot harder than they have to and we likely miss some things being shared. This can lead to physical reactions like fatigue and increased stress levels which impact our overall wellness.

That makes our brains work a lot harder than they have to and we likely miss some things being shared. This can lead to physical reactions like fatigue and increased stress levels which impact our overall wellness.
- Wes Harper, Director of Distribution Development

We desire clarity in meeting experiences, we need to be able to see and hear everyone attending. We need technology solutions that can adapt to the visual and auditory variables of different meetings held in shared spaces. In our humble opinion, hardware should be designed to create a more enhanced and engaging meeting experience for hybrid work.

We appreciate hardware that is simple for anyone to purchase, set up and even easier to use with a single screen tap to start meetings. There are new features available that can digitally define the meeting space and avoid distractions that aren’t a part of the meeting automatically.

Additional intelligent features to consider are where the camera focuses on who’s in the room regardless if they are sitting, standing or moving around. Things like this help remote participants to focus on who’s talking and see the expressions of everyone else like they are actually there in the space. 

Like technology’s flexibility the furniture to which it sits on, mounts to or nests in needs to be just as adaptable. It’s our view that furniture should be the support vehicle for technology, it should provide accommodations versus require integration. I think we all expect furniture to last a lot longer than technology therefore the furniture needs to provide opportunities for us to adapt at the same pace technology does. We would encourage you to check out Kaleid, Fleet, and Obeya, these product families demonstrate abundant flexibility while having plenty of space to accommodate technology as you can see in our working showrooms. 

We don’t have all the answers of what the workplace needs to be for now and there is a good chance it may never be a specific set environment moving forward. So, it’s important that we think about the people occupying the space as well as the people connecting into the space virtually. The good news is, there are many solutions available now that can deliver high quality experiences, easy to set up and best of all, easy to use. We are big fans of flexible furniture and technology!

Wesley Harper
Director of Distribution Development

Wes Harper is a passionately curious contract furniture lifetime enthusiast. As the Director of Distribution Development, he spends his days leveraging the combined 25+ years in the dealer and manufacturing roles he’s had to challenge complacency and remove hurdles between OFS and the people they serve. You can find him working with the marketing and technology teams to develop new digital tools that lower transaction costs or meeting with customers in the field to learn new ways to save them time. He was the recipient of the Robert H. Award, unanimously selected by his peers for his “can do” attitude and willingness to tackle any tasks thrown his way. When not at work you would likely find him spending time with his family, working in his wood shop or chasing his golf ball into the woods.