Are you empowering equitable engagement?

August 16, 2022


Office worker. The descriptive seems almost antiquated in 2022. Work is what we do, not a place we need be.

The workplace has been replaced by an array of workspaces. Yes, the office but also the home and, when we’re on-the-go, the train, the coffee shop, the pavement; wherever there’s connectivity for our device of the moment.

The arrival of hybrid working means we’re doing things differently and doing them better

And hybrid is not just here – it’s here to stay.

In December, Grant Thornton’s Business Outlook Tracker found that nearly 90% of medium-sized businesses had adopted hybrid working.

There’s no need here to discuss the merits of the hybrid model because, through experience, businesses have already recognised them.

The discussion has moved on. Now it’s about how to optimise the model in order to best serve our employees businesses.

Levelling the playing field

When it comes to meetings, it’s about how to deliver equitable engagement, creating a level playing field for all participants, whether they are in the office, at home, or on-the-go.

This involves not only evaluating the design and role of the physical office but considering digital collaboration and communication in the whole.


Everywhere together

Under the hybrid model, the role of the office is to enable and empower.

As such consideration needs to be given to physical configuration as well as which technologies enable equity between in-person and virtual attendees.

Staff, clients and suppliers can be working anywhere and everywhere, but they need be together, interacting, sharing and co-creating equally.

Both Google and Microsoft have invested considerable thought into this, experimenting with flexible working spaces and examining how technologies may be best deployed.

Around the Campfire

The former developed meeting room concepts such as Campfire, a circular space in which in-person participants face both each other and large screen displays hosting videoconference attendees. It’s a design which fosters equal participation.

Discussing the future of flexible working, Jaime Teevan, Microsoft’s chief scientist comments: “The risk of hybrid meetings is that in-person attendees become anonymous faces in a room, while remote attendees are left speaking into a void, not knowing if they are seen or heard, or how to jump in and take a turn.

“If things return to the old normal, we will have missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a new and better future of work.”

The arriving future

Similarly, Microsoft brought a team together in, as the New York Times put it, “anticipation of a future that’s now arriving.” Its research scientists experimented with both office and meeting room layouts and technologies.

This research addressed the importance of non-verbal cues in enhancing understanding and informing conversational turn-taking – minimising participants speaking over each other.

Audio overload, created through single speaker configurations, was also highlighted as a barrier to effective communication.

Here issues may be addressed by spatial and intelligent speaker set ups.

These deliver much enhanced conversational clarity and, coupled with a suitable videoconferencing platform, enable users to catch both verbal and non-verbal cues to inform their participation in dialogue.

Teams work

Microsoft’s research has informed and continues to inform product development, most notably of Microsoft Teams, a product the company argues is “mission critical” to delivering engaged and equitable flexible working.

As an all-encompassing workflow collaboration and unified communications platform sitting within the market-leading Office 365 suite, Teams’ combined functionality means users need access only one app on one device to complete multiple tasks.

The advent of Direct Routing has further enhanced it’s power. This cloud-hosted, low-cost subscription service enables calls to be made and received over any Teams enabled device using existing DDIs.

Display Teams

Microsoft’s research also led to enhancement of Teams Rooms. This digital workspace, which empowers virtual and physical meeting participants to collaborate using any device, anywhere at any time, now incorporates multiple display options.

The increased space amplifies the presence of remote participants, further promoting equality of engagement.

This feature can be further enhanced by partnering with an AI camera.

For example, Poly’s Studio E70 is a 20 MP, 4K,dual-lens AI-driven camera which is able to seamlessly transition between wide and narrow lens. It incorporates PolyDirectorAI speaker tracker technology, an intelligent piece of kit that automatically zooms in when someone is speaking and out when someone nearby makes a contribution

Such technologies ensure that all in the meeting, wherever they are, can be seen, heard and participate on equal terms.

Fluent solution

This can sit within a wider, highly fluent solution which embraces both the latest software and hardware innovations.

This where Avoira’s multi-disciplinary expertise really comes into its own.

Over more than 40 years we have developed a broad range of specialisms, each backed by dedicated teams.

These include unified communications, video conferencing and audio-visual technologies, each backed by expertise in key peripherals such as hand and headsets, monitors and displays.

This breadth and depth of specialist knowledge is vital when you’re looking to enable optimal and equitable collaboration and communication experiences. Meeting your challenges may require specifying and integrating multiple technologies which best suit your specific needs.

Experience & expertise

At Avoira we not only have great experience and understanding of cutting-edge technologies, but the expertise to design and implement powerful, integrated solutions.

This is important because with so many factors and technologies to consider in correctly specifying and setting up a hybrid operation, specialist, vendor-independent consultancy support is vital.

Our specialist experience and expertise can embrace everything from delivering managed cloud services, through advising on the most appropriate cyber security products and protocols and on to specifying the nuts and bolts – the best noise cancelling headphones and handsets for the environments in which your people will be working.

Getting the right advice from the start will not only save you time and money. It will secure you a highly fluent and integrated hybrid solution that best meets the needs of your business, its clients, employees and partners.

Arrange your free hybrid working consultation

If you would like to arrange a free, no-obligation independent consultation on the creation of your optimal hybrid solution, please email us at info@avoira.com or call: 0333 001 5151.

You can also find more details for product types and individual lines via the following links.

• Videoconferencing – click here

• Unified Communications – click here

• Microsoft Teams Direct Routing – click here

• Audio-visual Communications – click here