Keep remote workers connected — and engaged

Early in the pandemic, all of us had to adjust to working from home. We struggled through the kinks of being on video calls, while putting up with bad lighting, worse internet connections and the occasional pet who decided to be part of the proceedings. After all, it was a temporary situation, right? 

Now here we are, 20 months later, and facing a brave new world of hybrid work and how we are perceived as professionals. Poor setups for remote participants, like bad lighting, distracting backgrounds and poor audio, are no longer tolerated in the same way. As a result, whether employees are working in the office or at a remote location, businesses need to ensure that worker performance and engagement — along with their health and well-being — are all being considered in order to create better workplace experiences.

Steven Lang

One way for organizations to bring hybrid teams together in a way that allows every employee to contribute equally to the discussion at hand, regardless of where they are located, is through presence equity. Presence equity simply means that remote and in-person team members have the same access to information, and can speak and be heard easily by all participants.

Without presence equity, remote workers can easily feel like their contributions are not valued in the same way as employees physically at the office. This can lead remote workers to feel disengaged, which, in turn, can result in reduced productivity. If the situation persists, it can also cause these frustrated employees to start looking for job opportunities elsewhere, where they believe their contributions will be regarded as more valuable. In a world in which attracting and retaining good workers is becoming harder than ever, this situation cannot be tolerated if a company is to maintain its competitiveness.

In no uncertain terms, better hybrid experiences lead to better work. A good experience can be defined as productive meeting time spent discussing ideas and finding solutions, rather than wasting time trying to get A/V equipment and settings to work correctly. To get there, organizations should consider the following:

  • Offer in-person employees a variety of spaces to give them choice and control over where they work. From huddle rooms equipped with videoconferencing technology to pods with enough privacy to take a call or join a videoconference, people need the ability to choose the best space for the task or meeting at hand.
  • Provide easy-to-use A/V solutions that ensure everyone looks great and sounds clear on videoconference calls. Consider technology solutions that offer the same experience for both in-office and remote team members. Microphones and speakers in meeting rooms need to capture and transmit clear audio solutions into and out of the room. Monitors and video solutions should be placed in areas where in-person and remote participants can view the content being shared.
  • Consider A/V and collaboration solutions that allow workers to use their own devices and meeting features. This enables employees to minimize contact with shared devices and easily connect to meetings on your organization’s standardized platform.
  • When using analog tools in-office, position these tools to ensure there is no glare, so content can be viewed by remote participants. 
  • Provide remote workers with home office solutions, such as an ergonomic chair, work tools and video conference kits with headset, mics and ring lights to ensure they have the same comfort and productivity as in-office team members.

Technology has always advanced rapidly, but the pandemic has driven innovation forward at incredible speeds to accommodate users’ needs. To keep pace, it is essential for organizations to prioritize technology upgrades to ensure employees have the flexibility to remain engaged and do their best work, regardless of where they are working.

Steven Lang is CEO and president of dancker, a leading interior solutions company that fully integrates architectural, furniture and technology solutions as a one-source provider and logistics manager for corporate, education, government and health care facilities.