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Can a ‘return to work’ mean we meet like it is 2019?

Can a ‘return to work’ mean we meet like it is 2019?

We sit here with offices closed, remote working having become the norm and meetings being conducted from our home offices, that place previously known as the kitchen table.  It feels like a return to the workplace may never happen.

But return we will  

Some of us have only just got used to home working, but business leaders everywhere are preparing for a return to the office once the lockdown restrictions are lifted.

With that return comes an overriding responsibility on employers to ensure they meet government guidance.  It’s crucial, of course, that the right measures are taken for employees’ physical safety.  But it’s also very important for their psychological well-being.  For commerce to really start to ramp up again, people need to feel safe and confident in returning to the workplace.

One of the challenging areas for organisations will be how meeting rooms are organised.  With clear government guidance around managing occupancy and avoiding the sharing of equipment, how will organisations confidently ensure these recommendations are met?  

There has been a move in recent times away from the traditional board room, that rarely used resource that sat empty for much of the month, to a more informal, more 21st century, huddle space. The trouble is, huddling is no longer an option.

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So can we meet like it is 2019?  

The short answer is no, probably not for some time.  Some experts are talking about the need to socially distance for two years.  But with the use of innovative technology that supports the initiatives the government is demanding, we can certainly hold meetings safely, both remotely and in person.

Take the GoBright space management system.  It provides the foundation for establishing short term safe physical meeting environments in the workplace.

With it, companies can restrict access to certain areas of the building.  The system allows you to close a single desk , a whole room or even make an entire floor unavailable. In terms of managing people meeting together,  it means that impractical huddle spaces and small meeting spaces can be made unbookable and that they become invisible when meeting space is being searched for.

Larger meeting rooms can have their overall capacities reduced to a lower level, allowing chairs to be spaced out at safe distances.   Anyone seeking to book a room will only see those with enough space to accommodate the number of people in the meeting, within strict social distancing requirements.  And the entrants to the room can be counted in and out, with alerts if the maximum capacity is inadvertently exceeded.

Touch free management

Talk about room booking systems and many will think of the touch screen outside of the room. Whilst a useful facility in normal times, this is a functionality that is no longer feasible.  With GoBright, room booking can be handled via a mobile app or desktop.  Usual features such as a map kiosk and room touch screen can have their touch function temporarily disabled, whilst remaining in use as an information display only.  Check-in and room release automation can be carried out via sensor based detection.

As to conducting the meeting itself, there are other complementary technologies to help.  The Nureva Span Workspace software gives you tools for true data collaboration both within the meeting room and with remote attendees.  Because the software is hardware agnostic, each team member can contribute fully using their own device, whether laptop, tablet or smartphone, with no need to share touch surfaces. 

Ditch the desk microphone

To ensure that everyone’s voice is clearly heard, Nureva’s HDL300 audio conferencing system with its 8000+ virtual microphones picks up everyone’s vocal contribution.  It delivers crystal clear audio no matter which direction people are facing, where in the room they are seated or whether they are joining remotely. And it overcomes the need for everyone to lean into a central desk microphone.

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So whilst we may not yet be able to meet like it’s 2019, we can meet 2020 style with the use of carefully chosen technologies.  Select those technologies  carefully and they will not only deliver solutions to short term challenges but also become the cornerstone of flexible working practices that build resilience into any long term workspace strategy.

Access the Government guidance document ‘Working safely during COVID-19 in offices and contact centres’ here.

Clauses relating to this blog can be found on pages 7, 10, 11, 12, 

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