Christian Young is a Pro A/V product manager at ATEN Technology Inc., a global manufacturer of KVM and AV/IT connectivity and management solutions. For more information, visit aten.com/us/en/ and follow @ATENConnect on Twitter.
As companies evaluate when employees will go back to the office, if at all, one thing has become very clear: Most employees prefer a hybrid — or completely remote — work scenario. Therefore, office layouts need to be adapted into hybrid workspaces for maximum collaboration and performance.
A popular buzzword you may hear nowadays is ‘hot desking,’ which means desks or working spaces that can be used by many people at different times. Although this option may present some limitations that could be seen as disadvantages — such as not “owning” your own work area and having to follow a schedule when such desk space is available — hot desking benefits from maximizing space and resources efficiency while reducing redundant office real estate.
To make these ‘shared’ spaces more collaborative and user-friendly, the installation of USB-docking stations can create a quick plug-in solution for workers, allowing them to switch in and out of different workstations very quickly.
These docking stations could connect to multiple monitors, keyboard, mouse, printers and other USB peripherals to provide a seamless desktop experience to the employee. On a side note, extra docking stations for the employee to carry with them would facilitate the connectivity from a home office or on-the-go locations. A mini dock or a multiport dock will provide the ability to connect a variety of peripherals, screens and power over a single USB(-C) cable.
Another important issue to consider for this new office redesign is the investment in technology that would contribute to a more efficient work environment. Organizations and integrators will look for office equipment that can maximize employee collaboration from anywhere.
Some equipment, such as presentation video switches, need to include several video ports, allow a larger number of remote or in-person participants, multiple video streaming capabilities and wireless connectivity. They also should include collaborative tools — whiteboards, chat features, video capture, etc. — control capabilities to manage meeting room equipment remotely or on-site and compatibility with videoconferencing applications. Video cameras, microphones, projectors, data networks and company firewalls may require upgrades to meet the new demands.
Another one of the latest trends in the market is USB switches, which enable multiple users to control meeting room equipment. For example, a four-by-four USB switch can allow four users to control four different USB enabled cameras, microphones and devices in one meeting space, enabling remote meeting participants to get a full view of the people in the meeting room.
Even locations with fixed devices or computers that must stay on the premises, such as dedicated computers, may modify to workstations with Keyboard, Video, Mouse (KVM) switches, allowing users to access multiple servers from a single workstation. A new trend on “hybrid KVMs” include USB-C ports for easy connectivity to a laptop while being connected to multiple desktop computers. Adding this functionality to a desktop allows workers to be more productive and mobile.
Lastly, KVMs over IP can be essential tools for critical remote work. Individuals and organizations have been turning to cloud-based software for hybrid and remote solutions, and these can be helpful, but they also suffer from issues that a hardware-based solution doesn’t. Relying completely on software-based solutions leaves individuals and organizations at the mercy of that platform’s bandwidth and security. System administrators and users who need secure access from home require a different solution than just software. Avoid waiting for your remote worker to come into the office to restore a critical system.
KVM over IP means having a direct connection to your PC at your company no matter where you are. With built-in virtual media, these devices also allow for remote file transfers, diagnostic testing, and OS and applications updates and patches. In addition, KVMs can be compatible with platforms including Windows, Mac OS, Sun, Linux and serial devices. Besides connection reliability, a single-port KVM over IP may have features such as dual LAN and dual power for power backup to keep your devices running in case of power failure.
The new goal of hybrid offices should be to maximize space-saving technology, enable workforce mobility and maximize collaboration. The office will play an important role of enabling collaboration and team alignment. The use of technology and investing into solutions to meet the new needs of the hybrid worker will continue to become more important.
Hopefully, this article gave you some ideas for starting points to help envision how your hybrid office will work and how to best enable your workers when in the office and when working remotely. I recommend focusing on enabling collaborative meeting spaces first, as their demand will be greater than before in this hybrid environment.
To transition to a hybrid work model, a company decided to revamp its conference room equipment to fully accommodate remote participants to ensure both their well-being and productivity. To accomplish this, the company required a moderator-enabled A/V distribution and conferencing solution that streamlined accessibility, featured advanced audio functions, and simplified local and remote collaboration and video sharing. This allowed remote workers to feel as engaged and empowered as the ones physically present in the room.
The solution: Offer bidirectional multistreaming that enables content to be shared to and from participants remotely, while the moderator can discretely access any output display to switch content or change settings. Support audio embedding/de-embedding in addition to mixing microphone input with an external analog or digital audio source for seamless interactions between all participants, no matter where they are.
For vendors that supply hybrid office solutions, they need ways to provide solutions that not only increase workforce mobility and collaboration, but enable workers to be productive when working both in the office and remotely.
With these in mind, those in charge of implementing office equipment for hybrid workplaces face a variety of considerations and challenges, including:
Workplaces looking to make the shift to a hybrid environment should seek a vendor that provides a full range of KVM, USB and video switches for hybrid office use. Look for companies that specifically focus on providing enhanced collaboration for remote meeting participants, direct connections for efficient remote working and video up to True 4K for the best visual experience. C&IT