One thing the pandemic hasn't changed: work revolves around meetings. What has changed is that most of those meetings are now virtual, which puts more pressure on the technology to keep everyone connected. Consequently, the same Artificial Intelligence that we depend on to make life easier with our smartphones is now putting the smarts into smarter collaboration. And it's doing so with devices that are equally at home whether your team members are working at their kitchen table, on the road or back in the office.
Many of the largest companies in the world have already made commitments to this new age of flexible working. Streaming service Spotify has announced that their employees will be able to work from anywhere they choose, whether that be their local café, a friend’s home, or even a holiday resort.
And this isn’t just a lockdown offering, but their new way of working going forward. This pandemic has accelerated the understanding of what technology makes possible; the idea of going back to the office five days a week now seems quite archaic.
Disruption is only natural
We’ve also learned a hard lesson about preparing for the unexpected. Environmental commentators predict that we will now experience a new pandemic every ten years, and phenomena like fires and floods suggest that climate change may now be having a direct effect on our daily lives.
Uncertainty has always been a dimension of working life. Now, we’ve learned that agility and flexibility are outstanding defenses against the impact of the unknown.
Agility begins at home
Homes have had to adapt fast to remote working. Desks are usually smaller and there is often only room for one screen.
Many users have had to learn quickly too and technology has had to bridge the gap between home and office, not just with good network connections, but with devices that can cope with less tech-ready environments.
Tough enough for the home office
Homeworkers need reliable devices which are easy to use and won’t require frequent messages to IT for off-site support.
At the same time, the equipment needs to be robust and have the ability to withstand the wear and tear of being moved about much more than it has been before.
Some people have had to work in two or three different rooms during the course of a day at the virtual office. This is also why devices need to reduce in size to become more portable.
Teams-ing up in the Zoom boom
Perhaps the most visible sign of technology transforming our working lives is the boom in video calling and conferencing. Even events have had to become completely virtual.
Suddenly, the quality of video and audio, and the integration of platforms such as Microsoft Teams, have become critical concerns.
Ideally, working collaboratively with tools like these involves two screens – one for the call, one for the applications the users are working with.
Where space is at a premium, this is not always a practical option. As we move out of lockdown, and people move between different locations for work, portability will become still more of an issue.
A Smarter view of collaboration
The Lenovo ThinkSmart View is an example of a solution that has come into its own during lockdown and is set to become a standard for remote and mobile collaboration in the future.
It’s a compact, dedicated device for Teams or Zoom calling, with a built-in mic and camera. It works as an extension of a PC or laptop, freeing up precious screen real estate for any work required during a call.
Don’t wait for the next pandemic
Commentators may or may not be right about the likelihood of another pandemic, but we really should not need another one to understand the value of a more flexible way of working together.
It was already possible, and now necessity has overcome the last cultural barriers to adopting the technology that enables secure, reliable collaboration in almost any circumstances.
The winners now will be the organizations that strike the right balance between home and office, and who invest in the infrastructure to make the new future of work productive and sustainable.