Working without boundaries: can video bridge the communication gap?
As remote working becomes critical in the time of Covid-19, advanced video conferencing technology is set to make collaboration easier for the work-anywhere employee
The world is more connected than it has ever been. Journeys that in years past would have taken months or years can be completed in mere days or hours. This has led to an increasingly interdependent global economy in which information, people and goods flow across the world in complex patterns of activity.
Even before the spread of coronavirus, it was universally acknowledged that the world has become dependent on this model; a car assembled in the UK may have parts designed in Japan, manufactured in China, and adjusted in Italy before they get anywhere near the car itself. In this densely interconnected world, it is important to ensure that the links remain open in order to keep the lifeblood of every economy flowing.
Each different flow has different problems to face and different solutions to those problems. As the world adjusts rapidly to a fast-developing picture of global contagion, it is important to focus on the flow of people and information both within and between different locations and examine how new technology has redefined where we work in the early 21st century.
As circumstances dictate
While many companies have been slow to adopt the concept of decentralised working, on some occasions circumstances may require it. This creates an interesting situation whereby companies involuntarily allow their employees to work more flexibly and therefore provide a unique opportunity for a kind of compulsory experiment on the practicalities of working from anywhere.
The current outbreak of Covid-19 has created such a situation. Due to efforts to stop the spread of the virus, in many regions companies are taking the precaution of asking employees who are showing any virus-like symptoms to not come into work, or, more commonly, shutting their offices entirely for fear of spreading the infection. This has resulted in many of them realising that their businesses are still continuing to function and that they have suffered no ill-effects from the decision to allow their employees more flexibility. Indeed, they have in fact potentially protected their businesses not just from the effects of a new and dangerous virus but also other external factors.
‘No ill-effects from the decision to allow their employees more flexibility…’
The fact that businesses are often still running smoothly undoubtedly comes as a bit of a shock to some companies. Many expect traditional work structures to break down without having people in the office: people to slack off from work, not know what needs to be done and not communicate effectively. However, the range of technological and logistical solutions that exist today allow for a much greater degree of flexibility when it comes to where people work. This latest challenge to traditional work norms has shown that traditional ways of working are largely unnecessary, at least in the short term.
Quality and connectivity
Such innovation can be best seen in providers of advanced video-conferencing technology that bridges the gap between virtual and face-face meetings. Many even refer to such systems as being face to face because the distinction is lost; quality and connectivity is so high that there is little additional benefit to meeting someone physically. This has been made possible by advances in internet bandwidth and cloud-based services that have virtualised the workplace.
The ease of deployment, management and quality of user experiences have elevated cloud-based solutions like Microsoft Teams to the status of essential workplace tools. These are the ‘brain’ of the workplace and an important part of what allows people to work remotely.
Without high-performing eyes and ears however, the brain of the workplace will cease to function effectively. These are not only necessary for the functioning of cloud-based systems, but can also greatly enhance their end-user experience, helping users be as productive as possible despite being away from the office. This is the perspective that Logitech take in their solutions.
Logitech solutions aim to enhance the user experience and work closely with cloud-based services to deliver products that make workers productive wherever they are. This includes technology like LDR in cameras to lighten facial features and work in challenging light conditions.
Logitech’s Brio Ultra HD webcam is a good example of this. This small camera can clip onto a range of different screen sizes and connects via a simple USB. It supports video quality up to 4K Ultra HD and high-dynamic range to ensure it can capture perfect detail in any environment. Lightweight and simple design make this device an easy accessory to add to a workstation and enables working practically anywhere.
Ears as well as eyes
Being able to see people working in different locations is only one side of the problem though. In order to deliver a seamless and high-fidelity remote experience, users need a headset to match. The Logitech Zone headset makes a great accompaniment. Zone is a Bluetooth headset that supports up to 16 hours of listening time and 15 hours of talking time. It has a range of 30m, making this a perfect headset for moving around different locations without having to take your phone or laptop with you.
This enables workers to move more easily around environments they may not be accustomed to working in, such as at home or an airport lounge. Logitech even offers the Brio and Zone as a personal video collaboration kit, giving workers the ability to work almost anywhere and still stay connected.
Designed for creativity
The final item that no remote worker should be without is a keyboard and mouse set. The Logitech MX Master 3 is a wireless mouse specifically designed for creative and coding work. It is precise, quiet and quick to give users a totally streamlined feel to their experience. It is also ergonomically fitted to the shape of a palm with buttons placed for intuitive use.
Logitech also has a range of different keyboards to pair with the MX Master 3, including the MX Keys. This keyboard is made to be highly stable to reduce noise and optimise responsiveness. It is held together with a single metal plate, a construction choice that makes it ideal for resisting the kind of shocks that are liable to occur when working on the move. Backlit keys also aid with typing in low-light conditions and an impressive battery lets it keep going for up to five months.
For workers with less advanced requirements, Logitech also offers the minimalist MK470 combination set of mouse and keyboard. This set is designed around being sleek, quiet and compact. This affords it a high level of mobility and a small footprint that make it perfect for using in small spaces that may not be designed as a desk.
Ultimately nobody can force companies to change their policies when it comes to flexible working. But sometimes it is possible to show them the benefits in a way that they cannot avoid. The coronavirus crisis presents an unprecedented challenge right now but, in the long run, with fewer employees travelling between offices, companies can save money and become more sustainable. With fewer employees travelling into the office, companies can benefit from employees who have not already been exhausted by their commute.
As Nichole Izzo, Head of Marketing at Logitech, explains: ‘The benefits of equipping your teams with the right video tools to work remotely, in a way that feels like colleagues are right in the room with you, are enormous. There is less individual stress and environmental impact, and more productivity as a result of seamless collaboration.’
‘The effects of boundless working may play out in ways we can’t predict…’
Short term, companies will simply have no choice but to support a work-from-anywhere culture. In the longer term, the effects of boundless working may play out in ways we can’t predict. But at least technology like that provided by Logitech can certainly enable companies to try to innovate and try to do something different which may benefit everyone.