The remote and hybrid workplace has expanded significantly over the last few years. Major companies like Twitter have adopted a permanent work-from-home policy, while other organizations are experimenting with hybrid schedules that vary from one or two scheduled remote days per week to only gathering in person “when needed.” While these changes have been in large part driven by COVID-19, remote work has been gathering steam for several years now. Widespread adoption is expected to continue well into the future.

And it’s not just Silicon Valley tech companies and white-collar businesses that are adopting variations of work from home. Telemedicine allows physicians to treat patients without an office visit and, for specialties like mental health, both the provider and the patient can often do everything they need to do from home. Online courses, training sessions, and webinars, like those offered by ADI, can be a major boon for teachers and students alike. The opportunity to further expand connection and collaboration into domains that used to require having a physical office, classroom, or meeting space is vast.

Installers, dealers, and other low-voltage professionals have a key role to play in this changing landscape. As companies, organizations, and individuals implement things like remote policies and work-from-home schedules, they will need technology that can get the job done. That’s where you – the integrator – come in.

In this article, we are going to discuss two key aspects of the hybrid-work/work-from-home transformation where integrators have a real opportunity to guide the customer. The first has to do with home office setup. The second has to do with meeting the customer’s video conferencing needs. Ideally, this discussion will give you a basic framework with which to approach the new and exciting world of remote work.

Home office setups

Most remote workers, even the nomads who typically tote their laptops to a nearby coffee shop, will want/need a home office. As an integrator supporting remote employees, you will want to consider a few factors:

  • Does the technology give the remote worker everything he or she needs from an AV standpoint? For some kinds of work, an entry-level laptop with a 13-inch screen is more than enough to get the job done. For other kinds of work, say game design or digital content creation, the employee may need a high-end monitor, premium headphones and more sophisticated solutions.
  • Does the remote worker have the right network setup? Home layouts vary, and not everybody plans their home around where the DSL modem is installed. Larger houses or residences where the home office is a detached garage or carriage house might need a mesh Wi-Fi network in place. Other remote workers might be value shoppers as far as personal tech goes, only to discover that their entry-level wireless routers keep dropping them off during video chat. Integrators like you have an opportunity to advise (and profit) in these situations.
  • Will the worker be comfortable? Wearing a headset twice a week is a different proposition than wearing one eight hours a day. Here it can be helpful to understand what the client’s staff will be doing from a physical standpoint and advise the client accordingly.
  • Is the technology being protected? Uninterrupted power supplies (UPS), surge protectors and the like can carry an organization’s tech investment a little further than it would otherwise go. Additionally, implementing the right cybersecurity tools makes tremendous sense when dealing with remote employees who are not using a corporate network infrastructure. Protecting their tech also gives you an opening to earn recurring revenue.
  • Is there an opportunity for amenities? Maybe you can hook a remote worker up with a desk bike, a designer lap desk and an espresso machine while you’re at it. Competition for high-skill workers can be fierce and in-person companies frequently offer amenities to lure people in. Why should working from home be different? This is something that integrators who deal with certain types of residential construction can readily incorporate into home-office design.

Creating the Right Video Conferencing Experience

A second area where integrators can play a vital role is in ensuring that video conferencing lives up to expectations. Again, there are a few baseline questions to ask yourself when supporting these jobs.

  • How demanding is the conference environment? Much of the workforce has gotten accustomed to rather informal Zoom meetings, Microsoft Teams sessions and Google Chats. However, certain organizations may need to collaborate in a more polished way from time to time, which opens the door for higher-resolution web conferencing cameras, better microphones and stronger pro-AV products across the board. Additionally, some organizations will do things like hybrid conferences where the audience is partially remote, partially in-person, which means that integrators will need to accommodate the in-person and the digital experience all at once.
  • Is conferencing accessible? A typical executive might jump from meeting to meeting to meeting over the course of a day, sometimes on different technology platforms and through different devices. It makes tremendous sense to watch the market for solutions that promise interoperability, collaboration between major conferencing platforms and faster performance across the board.
  • Are conferences secure? For some businesses, secure conferencing will be of marginal to no importance. Other types of organizations regularly discuss business strategies, trade secrets, patient information that falls under the domain of HIPPA-compliance rules and a whole gamut of confidential subjects. Additionally, entities ranging from religious groups to government agencies might find their private meetings targeted by protestors. As video conferencing becomes more central to the workplace, incidents like hacking, industrial and corporate espionage, and people showing up to meetings uninvited are likely to increase. Therefore, integrators will want to have a keen understanding cybersecurity at the software, hardware and process level.
  • What kind of IT infrastructure do they have? One of the consequences of remote work is that there is less demand for commercial real estate, which means that many businesses and organizations are pivoting away from the dedicated server rooms and other corporate IT infrastructure pieces of the past. For these customers, cloud-based video-conferencing solutions may be the way to go. Other entities may have different preferences and needs.
  • Can the customer benefit from AI? More and more manufacturers are incorporating AI functionality into their video conferencing products. AI can schedule meetings, take notes, track interactions, identify participants by name, assist with pre-meeting preparation and, in short, carry out the kind of low-level tasks that would otherwise be left up to a living person.

The trend toward work-from-home and hybrid work policies creates a range of opportunities for integrators like you to build lasting business relationships, demonstrate your expertise in your industry and market, and improve your bottom line. Are you ready to get started?

Office and Work-From-Home Solutions