Three years on from the first Covid lockdowns, is the on-going conflict between working from home and returning to the office, coming to an amicable end?
Global video conferencing manufacturer Boom Collaboration feels peace might finally be on the horizon, as a clearer and more consistent picture begins to emerge.
Texas-based Boom Collaboration was founded by Fredrik Hörnkvist and Holli Hulett in 2020, ironically right in the middle of the pandemic! The company initially saw an explosion in demand for USB home working devices but is now witnessing a 40% rise in office video bars plus a 32% growth in high performance PTZ cameras and expandable audio devices, this year.
Office real estate apocalypse
“Through these interesting, challenging and evolving times, from lockdowns to hybrid working, conferencing has been at the fulcrum of dramatic changes in daily and working life; how people interact and communicate, almost from anywhere,” Hulett explained.
“In many ways there’s no going back to how we were before in an increasingly AI-driven world.”
She says the impact on the office property market has been particularly hardest hit with the true costs yet to fully emerge.
“There are widespread reports of a $500 billion ‘office real estate apocalypse’ where the effect of remote working in the US is even worse than expected,” she highlighted. “But what is in little doubt is how offices around the world have had to restructure to the ‘new normal’ creating more huddle room facilities to accommodate more video meetings.”
Hörnkvist, who recently visited the UK, noted: “We know these trends are mirrored around the world with one in five Londoners estimated to be working remotely, while four out of ten balance working from home with going to the office. Three-quarters would leave their job if they were no longer able to work from home for some of the week, according to one recent study.”
But he feels ‘it’s a lot more complicated argument than just wanting to work from home’.
“There’s still a ton of companies pushing hybrid and in person. Maybe the real estate crash will not be that bad. Time will tell.
“Some companies at first were looking to go full remote but now they have requested staff to come back. Some went full time whilst others prefer hybrid. Some will never go back. It’s kind of a mixed bag. The key is to be flexible to maintain their culture and retain a happy workforce.”
Going full remote can be difficult to achieve, according to Hulett. “Even here at Boom we are a relatively small team dispersed across many miles but we all value getting together in person on a regular basis when we can. There’s a balance.
“Face-to-face meetings and direct human interaction on a regular basis matter and add value in so many ways. There’s social interaction as well as business benefits.
“However much some people want to work from home in terms of a work life balance, they still need to be face-to-face regularly, rather than just being isolated. Obviously high performance video technology offers a compelling alternative.”
She continued: “One of the main arguments I used to hear from friends is, what is the point of being in the office if my colleagues are not there so I end up on a video call anyway that I could have made from home?
“Regular patterns of behaviour are being formed with people in the office with key colleagues when they need to be, and working remotely too. This can boost business productivity and smooth any friction between departments.”
Hulett concluded: “Over recent years there seems to have been a constant battle between the office or hybrid work. But it doesn’t need to be that way. There’s a benefit to both and that’s certainly the view of many of our customers around the world.
“Our portfolio is built with tomorrow’s meetings in mind. We offer future proof solutions with solid components and technology to stand the test of time. From all-in-one-systems to multiple video camera mixing controllers and full room solutions.
“We recognise quality makes a huge difference. It really matters. That’s why we went straight into 4K picture resolution for example. 4K is the future. It’s about continually raising the game and raising the bar. Our flexible technology covers all bases.
“Wherever people are working the latest video conferencing technology can help. The battle is over. There’s no war. Peace is being restored.”