When the COVID pandemic enforced working from home for millions of people for the first time, it made many see their living conditions through new eyes. With routines broken and front doors temporarily barred, we had to break down the mental walls between ‘work’ spaces and ‘home’ spaces.
As a result, some chose to ring-fence areas of their place of residence into working from home-specific environments. Home office sales rose to 30-40% of their norm during the pandemic, and are yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. When the restrictions associated with COVID lifted, many dismissed conventional working spaces altogether, in favour of simply working wherever suited them – within reason.
Recent research carried out by XMOS has highlighted these changes and the shift in the concept of the traditional work environment. More than one in five (22%) workers surveyed stated that they have joined work calls from their beds. Perhaps even more extreme is the 8% of workers who confess to joining virtual meetings from the bathroom!
Whether you label it hybrid, flexible, or remote working, the bottom line is that the future of work is changing – not just a more disparate workforce, but a change in how, and where we work full stop.
Head in the game?
There are obvious questions here that reflect conventional attitudes to work. Surely people can’t be as productive from bed as they are in the office?
Well, according to research from RingCentral, 51% of workers feel more productive when working from home, and 59% report increased productivity; similar research from Ergotron suggests that 40% are now actually working longer hours. Even pre-pandemic, Stanford University produced research that reported a 13% increase in productivity for over 16,000 workers.
The barrier to effective remote work and collaboration isn’t a fad for working from unconventional spaces. It’s that many collaboration technologies aren’t keeping up with the changing needs of the modern worker, falling short when it matters most.
A third (33%) of those surveyed in XMOS research feel that the technology at their disposal doesn’t allow them to make calls irrespective of their location – rising to two in five (42%) for 25–34-year-olds. The workplace is becoming bigger and more nebulous, and many solutions simply can’t keep up.
Now it’s personal
This is a threat to many solution providers in the marketplace, as – in-keeping with the agency that many remote workers now feel over their day-to-day – employees are increasingly aware that poor quality conference calls reflect badly on them as individuals. Nearly half (48%) believe that having to ask people to repeat themselves makes them and their company look unprofessional.
As a result, more than two fifths (44%) report annoyance that the tech doesn’t ‘just work’, while 11% have abandoned specific virtual conferencing tools altogether out of frustration, potentially causing that manufacturer to lose out on valuable business.
In the new-look workplace, these issues are far more than a minor inconvenience. They’re becoming a significant barrier to effective remote work.
Take it from me
The good news is that many of these issues are avoidable. In order to enable businesses to realise their remote work ambitions, product manufacturers must prioritise listening to users.
By creating an open dialogue with the people who use their products on a daily basis, equipment designers and manufacturers will be able to incorporate feedback and develop applications that offer a superior audio-visual experience. Businesses are adopting hybrid and remote working models for the long-term, and need reliable solutions to facilitate effective collaboration and communication between their teams and beyond.
High audio quality is one obvious example on that agenda. With 63% of workers stating clear audio is the most important aspect of any call, features like acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) and noise suppression can have a huge impact on the quality of call taken on the move – or indeed, from an echoey bathroom.
For more on how conferencing solution designers can support remote work and collaboration in a still-evolving workspace, take a look at our Remote Possibilities research report.