Pushing the boundaries of the workplace

by External27 Nov 2013
Video technology does not merely bridge distances, but provides the anytime access, face-to-face, personal interactions which are so important in improving organisational communication and successfully conducting business, suggests Nick Hawkins.

Video collaboration is increasingly changing workplaces, as advances in technology and the benefits of real-time engagement with dispersed teams are reaping the benefits of taking collaboration beyond the office environment. Our appetite for increased connectedness is driving innovators to create new ways to bring us closer together, and these new technologies, such as social business, mobility and cloud-delivered services, are the driving forces behind a whole new paradigm for communication that is centered on the power of video collaboration. Today, it's not just about video conferences in office environments; it's about delivering the ability to meet face-to-face in any environment.

This transformation is due in large part to the integration of video collaboration into day-to-day business operations. Consequently, companies are now seeing the value of video collaboration beyond simple savings in travel expenses, to include reducing time-to-market, increasing customer service, improving crisis management, and streamlining decision-making.

At the same time, the generation entering the workforce today, combined with technology advancements are driving a visual and mobile society. The proliferation of tablets and smartphones are driving trends such as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) whereby employees collaborate the way they want with any device, over any network, and from any location, enabling them to still stay connected to the workplace and colleagues.
Trends such as BYOD and flexible working demonstrate a shift that is seeing more and more people demand the same standards of reliability and usability on their personal devices, as they would on their traditional work-related hardware and software-based applications. Subsequently, the opportunities for companies to take video collaboration beyond the boardroom or traditional work environment by establishing a mobile and more flexible work culture have now multiplied. This is particularly due to a rising need for more flexible working arrangements and to accommodate newer workplace structures, such as a surge in freelance and contract workers[1], and ‘hot-desking’.
These collaborations are made all the more meaningful through the adoption of video technology, which does not merely bridge distances, but provides the anytime access, face-to-face, personal interactions which are so important in improving organisational communication and successfully conducting business.
Mobility benefits
Flexible ways of working are being increasingly adopted in workplaces resulting in far reaching benefits. These benefits include retaining a better talent pool, more productive and efficient workers through the improvement of employee work-life balance, reduced real estate and operating costs for organisations, an improved continuity of operations and a reduced carbon footprint.

In addition, mobility is now being seen as key to bringing about change and improvements to existing business processes. In Human Resources for example, the deployment of enterprise mobility solutions can make the hiring and training process more efficient, reducing time and cost by conducting interviews over video. Mobile video applications available on smartphones and tablets have made this not just an easily adopted method, but also more accessible outside of an office environment.

The benefits of enterprise mobility can consequently be summarised to simply mean the ability to do so much more. Whether that’s speaking to different customers in different time zones in the space of one morning; having the time to pick up children from school and attend a meeting in the same afternoon; or providing live reports and conducting remote inspections from project sites while conferring with team members at headquarters – mobility solutions easily allow remote workers to be fully participating members of any team collaborations without location ever being a deterrent.

Adopting a mobility strategy

Adopting mobility and flexible working in an organisation can now be considered a critical requirement in staying ahead of workplace trends, and indeed the competition. In the modern workplace, mobility and flexibility can be seen as key drivers in retaining talent, and benefiting the organisation overall from resulting boosts in motivation, staff morale, customer service and productivity. Add to this, the savings in real-estate and capital investment by instilling a ‘hot-desking’ policy for employees who prefer to choose where they work from. 
As competition increases and resources shrink, more businesses can reap the benefits and values of a mobile workforce. Enterprise mobility is therefore becoming increasingly important as businesses can leverage advancements in technology for more productive business. With more workers on the move than before, mobility and flexible working solutions can genuinely
transform the way people work.

About the author

Nick Hawkins is Senior Director Advanced Technology at Polycom
[1] Regus report: Flexibility Drives Productivity, February 2012