Remote work has been the norm for quite some time now, but with regulations becoming less stringent we find ourselves asking the question, “is hybrid work the new norm?”.

This year’s Digital Transformation Expo + Unified Communications Expo featured some amazing tech brands, addressing the challenges and possibilities of hybrid work. And by the looks of it, we are not saying goodbye to 9:00 am remote meetings just yet.
Speakers representing companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Zoom discussed how technology is currently being developed to overcome the challenges of hybrid work.

In particular, Microsoft discussed how Audio Visual (AV) technology helps to make hybrid work sustainable. Microsoft Teams is currently looking at how they can utilise AV technologies and AI to make meetings more interactive and easier to participate in for remote workers.

For example, AI-powered active speaker tracking would allow cameras in a room to detect who is speaking, zooming in for a closer perspective. An important part of hybrid work is having an equitable experience for both remote and in-person attendees. Intelligent cameras and centralised AV systems are used to overcome this challenge by detecting who is speaking, or about to speak, to let everyone in the meeting know (regardless of whether they are at the office or at home).

Another highlight from the event was the Midwich stand, which had an impressive display of audio and visual gadgets. Attendees could play around with Zoom’s new DTEN me device made specifically for the home office experience. To overcome the difficulties of integrating meeting materials within the online experience, the device also supports interactive white boarding and document annotation.

Unmissable at the event was also Sennhaiser’s Teamconnect ceiling 2. This audio device uses beamforming technology to pick up noise from any part of a room and deliver the highest quality of audio. It can even follow the voice of an active speaker.

More importantly, the big tech players are harnessing the power of AI to change what meeting rooms of the future will look like. What we have seen at the Expo is a convergence between hardware and software. Where software’s ability to interact with the physical space ends (although applications are getting SO much better at understanding information), smart gadgets will pick up and allow for a more immersive hybrid work experience.

Let’s face facts: 83% of workers prefer a hybrid work model and 63% of high-growth companies have already adopted flexible work. According to the BBC, 43 of the UK’s 50 biggest employers will not bring back staff full-time. Hybrid work is here to stay and people want it to stay.

And today, we are in the right place and time for this shift to take place! The need to be “in the office” is slowly fizzling out, as technology steps in to power the future of work, changing the offices of tomorrow.

Anita Goga, Communications Growth Associate at Made by Giants