Sam Kennedy, senior director and product evangelist for Crestron, was recently tasked to give a keynote address at the “Digital Workplace Experience Summit,” a virtual event staged by the online publication Reworked. In the keynote (which is still available here), Kennedy neatly sums up a challenge a lot of businesses are confronting: How do we match the remote-work experience when a hybrid employee comes to the office for critical in-person collaborations? How do we “make the commute worth it?”
Kennedy suggests that there’s first an employee perception that needs to be understood by those facing that issue: “Work’s a thing I do, not a place I go.”
That concept informs what’s at the heart of making the hybrid workplace, well, work. “We have to provide a frictionless experience for the employee that comes in the office,” Kennedy notes. “We have to provide them with a one-touch ‘join-meeting’ solution whether they’re remote or attending a meeting in-person.”
The concept of unified communications is fairly new to many. As Kennedy notes, “In the pre-2000s, there was little adoption of UC. Video conferencing was an option in only 7% of businesses before 2019.” The pandemic, of course, changed all that. “Now, we have data from Forbes that tells us fully 74% of companies are utilizing a hybrid work model,” says Kennedy.
But “quick and dirty” solutions aren’t the answer. “You can’t just toss a webcam in a room and call it a day,” says Kennedy. “You have to think about every space, who’s using that space, what they’re using it for.” Kennedy offers a step-by-step map for deployment: “First, you need to figure out what platform you’re using: Is it Zoom? Microsoft Teams? Or is it a bring-your-own device situation?” From there, consider what each space will need specifically to its size and function, what devices will be deployed there, how you’ll handle scheduling that space, and what other disparate locations need to be connected. As each question gets answered, the need for an ecosystem that delivers a consistent experience for everyone — everywhere — becomes increasingly apparent.
The Winning Combination
For a perfect example of all of this, Kennedy points to an organization with a business model that demands top-quality hybrid work solutions: the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One™ Team. “Think about what you’d need to connect an operations center in the UK that covers 60,000 square kilometers with courses that are scattered all over the world,” says Kennedy. Collaborations with HQ in real time with near zero-latency is vital. It goes beyond sending vehicle telemetry back to the home office (although that’s a crucial element).
“What about getting race video back to the staff? To guests, maybe advertisers?” notes Kennedy. And keep in mind that F1 races are held in venues from Bahrain to Great Britain, Singapore to Spain, Miami to Monaco. Race day situations are high-pressure, high-stakes affairs that need technology that can meet the moment — without fail. “It’s the kind of operation that demands maximum reliability. This stuff just has to work,” says Kennedy.
The various parts of the F1 hybrid experience are much like any you’d find in a “slower-paced” environment (pardon the pun). High-quality, immersive video displays can perform myriad functions for an outfit like an F1 team: conferencing, wayfinding, race-day video — it’s all about making that display as immersive as possible in a variety of applications. Clear audio, the right light, proper cameras, rooms at HQ automated to react to occupancy and use cases are all part of the mix.
“When all of these things are working properly, when they’re interacting as they should and everyone feels engaged, an interesting thing happens — the user isn’t thinking about the tech at all,” says Kennedy.
“When it’s working perfectly, the technology just seems to fade away into the background.”
Find more info on how Crestron helped the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One™ Team achieve its collaboration needs with Crestron Flex video conferencing (and other solutions).
Find more info the Digital Work Experience series of summits.