Ready to huddle?

Certainly, the practice of distance and self-isolation is one of the absolute trends in 2020. Almost everyone whose job description allows it and who has the corresponding infrastructure in his own four walls is shifting a large part of the daily work routine to the home office.

This development is forcing companies to rethink the long-standing proven methods of collaboration and in particular, to rethink the topic of cooperative working. Approaches for such change management are already available as a concept in many companies. But the compulsion to let concepts merge into concrete implementations has never been as great as it is today. Let us examine some of the developments that could define the meeting of the future after zoom video conferencing and Skype.

Based on trend research and the publications of large consulting firms, the office of the future will primarily be a place for networking and exchanging ideas. Presence time in the company must be used productively. "Quiet work" is done at the desk at home.

This hybrid model has already gained popularity in the course of the current COVID 19 pandemic. Since humans are social beings and social interaction is the basis of almost every company's success, many believe that the combination of working at home and in the office is the way of the future. In this model, laptops and smartphones as well as video conferencing software are used to interact. In this way, everyday work and meetings can be done remotely and physical visits to the office can be made as needed. In other words, the meeting room becomes part of our home. There are some reservations about the hybrid model. Most of them relate to an unhealthy work-life balance and discrimination against fringe groups, such as employees without adequate Internet access.

Small and informal meeting rooms, known as huddle rooms in the jargon of planners, can be increasingly used here. They are not too large and have a loose seating arrangement. The need for communication equipment is also minimal. In most cases, a single screen or whiteboard is sufficient, as smartphones and laptops are the primary source of communication for the modern employee.

As the number of end devices per employee increases in most companies, uniform communication systems are essential. Meeting and conference rooms require the necessary UCaaS equipment and software to ensure that employees can join meetings from any location. Operating unified communication products in a cloud infrastructure ensures that uniform and compatible software is used. Only in this way does Workspace 4.0 become a holistic concept.

The models and methods discussed so far are now absolutely practical, but concepts involving the use of artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) for cognitive collaboration are still far from becoming the norm. The added value of such solutions is gigantic, since AI, AR and VR would facilitate the exchange of ideas like never before. Visualizations in VR and AR would allow a deeper explanation of concepts that might not have been possible in the past. In addition, VR can help those in remote locations to participate in meetings by placing them in virtual conference rooms so that the experience is close to an actual conference meeting. The equipment required for this may be expensive right now, but it could revolutionize the meeting of the future.

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