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You might not have noticed, but for a long time people have been forced into unnatural formations in order to work in an office. It’s not human nature to be divided into individual cubicles, or to sit along elongated rectangular boardroom tables. None of these mimic the way people naturally come together, which since we discovered fire (and pizza) has been circular. We like to look everyone in the eye whenever possible. It improves communication and makes us feel more comfortable; both being essential to a productive work environment.

Companies are realising the benefit of adapting the workplace to the nature of the worker, rather than trying to force it to be the other way round. Managers tear their hair out trying to drive adoption levels of new technology solutions, but if they aren’t designed around peoples’ needs, then your users aren’t going to pick them up.

Looking up at a small video collaboration screen on the wall can cause eye-strain and fatigue, and even more so if the video and audio quality are poor. We know that video collaboration is more effective than voice alone, but what we do need are centre-of-the-room solutions that allow us to look at each other instead of craning our necks. Collaboration solutions in the middle of the room let those who are physically together work in a natural way, which creates the kind of buzz and energy necessary to inspire everyone.

It’s not just about big rooms; huddle space solutions are really taking off as they encourage people to come together in smaller groups more suited to collaborative working. Not every meeting is board-level, sometimes a concise invite-list leads to the most productivity. Wainhouse Research estimates that there are between 30 and 50 million huddle rooms in the world.

We know that workers are more mobile than ever, and enterprise-productivity mobile-applications give people the freedom to move around and work from anywhere, without compromising on the quality of experience or security. The reality is sometimes you’re going to have to join a call from a train, airport lounge, coffee shop or even a beach.

The workplace of the future is people-shaped because with modern technology, any space can be a workspace. We just need to think outside the box (or boardroom).

Since 2012, there’s a lot of talk around “anywhere working”, but if it’s going to be an everyday reality you really need to think practically about what you need in order to make any space a productive workspace. How many employees could actually complete their job without internet access?

The basic essentials of modern life and enterprise working include; high speed internet connection, mobile signal, and power. That’s before you think about where you access your mission-critical applications; in the cloud, via VPN or remote desktop?

There are some things that perhaps we could do without. In the video collaboration age, we would probably be more productive without access to email as we wouldn’t spend half the day trying to clear our inboxes. How often do you send an email to someone who sits in the same office as you? The rise of video collaboration is having a two-fold positive impact in this instance; it’s ringing the toll for the endless email chains as we begin to rely on video recordings or archives we can easily search, allowing us to get the information as it was imparted in real-time. It’s also encouraging us to talk to each other again. More video means more conversations to the extent that emailing our co-workers begins to feel slow and unproductive, we’d rather just speak to each other!

We can work from anywhere as long as it enables us to speak to our team mates.

 

By Marco Landi, President EMEA of Polycom