B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro
B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro

Episode · 5 months ago

Improving Productivity in the Hybrid Workplace


How do you enable your hybrid workforce to be productive no matter where and how they work? 

With hybrid work firmly the norm, now is the time to find out. 

Shelby Skrhak speaks with Chris Thorson, senior director of product marketing at Poly, about: 

- Tips for approaching remote work technology

- How companies should choose the right work approach for them

- How Poly’s workplace personas help businesses find the right solutions

- How videoconferencing technology is driving productivity   

For more information, contact the Ingram Micro Poly support team (polymd@ingrammicro.com) or visit poly.com.   

To join the discussion, follow us on Twitter @IngramTechSol #B2BTechTalk  

Listen to this episode and more like it by subscribing to B2B Tech Talk on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher. Or tune in on our website

...mm hmm. You're Listening to B- two B Tech talk with Anger Micro the place to learn about new technology and technological advances before they become mainstream. This podcast is sponsored by the ingram Micro one event. Dream of possibility craft the future and think of the things nobody else has. Our customers arrive as individuals but quickly become one. Let's get into it. Welcome to VTB Tech Talk with ingram Micro. I'm your host shall be scare hawk. And my guest today is chris thorson, senior director of product marketing for poly chris welcome. Hey Shelby, thanks for having me here. It's great to have a chance to visit with everyone. Yeah, definitely. Well, so today we're talking about productivity in this hybrid workplace. But first let's talk about how we got here. So When the pandemic began in 2019, many companies of course had to pivot very quickly to allow its employees to work from home. But sometimes that you know that quick pivot maybe came at the expense of videoconferencing quality or you know, security, ease of use, cost, all of those different factors. But I understand that Polly uh then known as Plantronics has worked remotely for more than a decade. So I guess what lessons or poly especially well suited to share with its customers at the start of this remote work revolution, if you will. Yeah, it's crazy how far we've all come. And it's true that the phone is literally ringing off the hook at the beginning of pandemic of people saying, how do I do this and how do I get my people enabled and what I got to think about. And it's true that we've been a huge user of video for years and years and years. And so we wanted to start sharing this. And so I wrote a blog which I would we can attach to, I'm sure somehow to the recording here, but just giving people some idea of what is it, you know, what do I need to have? And I think people forget that not only you know, you've got to have a nice place to work and not everybody has the luxury of having a private office that they can go to, but everybody can get access to some great technology to make for a better experience. What do I mean by great technology? Well you've got to have a great mike. You gotta sound the best because you know, first and foremost you've got to be heard whether you're on video or whether you're on an audio call, making sure that you can capture all of the sound and articulate all of the consonants. That's really where people's tongues get, you know confused whether I said a C or a D or you know, so having, having a good audio and mic system is going to help make sure that you're well hurt. The other thing is to make sure that you don't have all these background noises. We've got technology these days where my dog is barking in the background or off to the side. I...

...mean literally it will cut that sound out by using multiple mics? I can hear, oh, this sound is in front of me or this sound is right on the, my boom mic and the sound is not. And then the other thing on video is, is making sure you've got great lighting. I think that's a, that's an important thing is, is get delights kind of in front of you not coming from the back, get a great quality camera that's going to be high definition if possible. And hopefully if you're in a space that you might disturb somebody else, you know, wear a headset so that, you know, you're not blasting your sounds and interrupting those others that might be in the room. So that's just a couple of the idea is that things that we've learned that's, that's kind of, I think a lot of people have learned by now, but really important stuff definitely. Well, I'm glad you mentioned some of those specific technologies and the challenges that are associated with them. I want to come back to some of those those points there. But you know, it occurs to me that, you know, now that we are two years later, uh, companies that have kind of started to shift again and now they're starting to look at what their new normal is going to be. So should they bring everybody back in the office, should they let them stay remote is their hybrid, that's maybe the right approach. So what do you hear from companies that are trying to decide this? And I guess what advice do you have for customers themselves or resellers that are speaking to customers and companies that are really at a loss for what the quote unquote right approach is Yeah, I mean the fact of the matter is Hybrid is here and Hybrid is here to stay and that's not a bad thing. It's just it's a change. And really the pandemic just accelerated a trend that was already happening more and more employers and employees were getting comfortable with the idea of people not being in the office every single day for some jobs that's going to continue, that people just staying at home for other jobs. I know a lot of people creative types uh you know, in my marketing organization, like we want to get back to the office because we want to collaborate. Even engineers like they want to collaborate, they like to have their time to work and do their own things in their quiet space, but there's something to be gained from getting people back to the office. So Hybrid is definitely going to be here to stay. And the challenge then becomes not only for, you know, people deciding on what's the right technology, but also people deciding on what those buildings will look like when you go back right, It's got to have the right mix of spaces that allows for collaboration. That allows for private work, that allows for people to get together in groups and get together in groups safely and getting the right technology and each of those environments I think is the challenge for us. And so give people space, get products in there that can be easily cleaned. That's something people are gonna want to share environment. Think about why people are coming to the office. Are they coming to collaborate? Probably or they coming to do private office? Are they coming to meet with customers or meet with partners? Make sure you've got collaboration technology in the room, whether it's white boarding stuff or hey, guess what? Now? The other half of...

...your people are going to be at home have an experience where they walk into that room and they can easily use the technology, it looks like it's a familiar interface to them. They're not intimidated by it because I think a lot of corporations have older video gear sitting in there that they haven't used in a long time and probably been sitting there collecting dust for two years now. What are they gonna do with it? Well, it might be time to upgrade some of that stuff and make sure it's really super easy to use so that when people come back, they have a great experience the first time. Well, yeah, I mean that's, you know, I, I remember before the pandemic when I was before I was working remotely and working independently. I was in an office and I was in that environment where if you were that unlucky unfortunate one that had to work from home, maybe something was happening, maybe something was going on where I needed to be at home instead of in the office and there was a meeting, oh my gosh, you were at such a loss, you didn't know what was happening. You know, there was just such a, you know, office first mentality, office native mentality that uh, you know, oftentimes I was just on someone's cell phone, on speaker basically. And uh, it was, it was, it was painful to see what it's been and then now to see how far it's come. Well, it's true. I mean the second the remote worker was the second class citizen, right? It's like, oh yeah, I forget that there's somebody out there. Well now we've all had the experience of being the remote worker and I think people are gonna be a lot more empathetic to hey, did you know, chris was on the remote today, Did he get a chance to speak? I would hope that were much more empathetic to that and include those people. Likewise, for the people on the far side, we're going to learn and we've already seen with some of our technology that, you know, looking, you know, when you put the Hollywood squares up for brady bunch of you, what do you want to call it, right, When one of those views is the conference room view and everybody is the eight people that might be in that conference room are packed into all that one little tiny view. That's not such a great experience for the people on the far side either. And so we're looking at technology of how do I bring those individuals by using digital cameras? I can cut out those eight different individuals, I can bring them up into the forefront, give them their own square. And so everybody becomes equal and that's where we as Polly are trying to go is create equal meaning experiences that the guys in the office can see everybody remotely, the guys remotely can see everybody individually and I can really have a face to face interaction that's just like being there at least as close, it's never as good as being there in person live, we're not kidney anybody there, but I want to be as close as I can and remove all those distractions because just thinking about distractions in your day to day work, you're distracted. It takes minutes for you to get your focus back. So let's make sure that people are focused on the task at hand. Exactly. Well, so I read a little bit about how Polly creates workplace...

...personas to really help find the right solutions for for businesses. So can you expand on that and I guess give us some a few examples of what these personas are. Yeah. So we went and conducted some research pre pandemic and actually during pandemic and we've we've tried to get people to project of what it'll be like going back. Although, you know, that's, that's somewhat hard to do. But we look at the uh, the work styles of people that are out there, you can kind of break it down generally into about a different work styles. And that accounts for, You know, 92%. A majority of the way people work. What do I mean by that? Well, you'll you'll see names like, you know, the remote worker. Okay. We all know what that is now the connected executive, right? They've got all the high tech stuff they like to have the latest and greatest the office traditionalist. Right. And they like, look, I'm just looking for my desk phone and I'm not using the latest and greatest technology or the Corridor Warrior, the guy that's at the office, but they're up and moving and remote around. And so we've broken the market and the use cases down to all those types of users. And we said, what's the right tech for each of these guys because in some cases, yeah. That Corridor warrior, they really probably want a headset type of solution, something that they can wear something that's mobile and wireless and allows them, you know, to use their preferred device of choice. Like it's probably gonna be their mobile phone and more people are using that versus you know, you've got the, like I said, the traditionalist that is, look, I just want my space and I'm at my desk and most of the time maybe I'm doing accounts payable accounts receivable or I'm on the phone and I'm making calls or maybe as I said, that connected executive and they might have three different places that they work out of at any given time. In some cases they might be in the car, some cases they might be at their home office and they need a big screen with great audio. Maybe they like to stand up and move around. Or maybe they've got a little side table where people come in and sit down and visit with them when they're in their workspace. So we've kind of looked at each of those personas kind of categorized, you know, what are their preferences. And we didn't just like pick this out of the air. We actually did surveys, We actually asked people how do you work, You know what, you know, what percentage of the time do you operate like this that or the other. And so that was able to classify them kind of like being a scientist, classify people into different groups and then say based on that. Here's what we find most of those people use all that research we have is is available. You can go download some of our white papers and learn more about these different personas and more importantly, what's the right way to talk to those people and for all the folks out there, you know, what's the right way to sell into those different environments with the right products? Well, yeah, I think that's a great talking point then for, you know, for our partners that that might be listening and thinking, okay, well, you know, a executive might be coming to a v A R you know, whatever the reseller partner is and only have a very general idea of what they need. Uh,...

...they don't know really the classifications of those workers, they don't know how many people are going to be remote all the time, how many are going to be extremely mobile in the office and others that are, you know, want to get back to their desk in their phone and their, you know, their chair and basically stay put. So, so I guess having that research than really enables deeper conversations and I guess solution, finding conversations. Right. That's exactly it. It's about having the conversations. They're great ways to get the conversation going with customers. And the big takeaway is, there's not a one size fits all approach, right? It is different strokes for different folks. You've got to have a nice big portfolio. That's why we have such a big portfolio might say, well you just have three headsets. I know some of the other guys that have been new entry, like, oh, we've got a wired to wireless and uh, you know, and what other type? Well that doesn't cut it when you realize all the different things that you might have to connect to all the different preferences or you got your long hair, short hair. Do I want a boom mic? Do I not want a boom mic? Do have one here. Do I want both ears noise canceling or not? Like you know, we have all those products, not because we just want to make a lot of stuff. We have those products because people really use these things in different ways and we like to have a solution for every work style and that's what it's all about. The personas, lead you down that to discover what are those right work styles and then you as a as a seller can walk in there and say, look here's for these people, I'd recommend this and for these people, I recommend that because otherwise frankly customers don't want to weed through all those choices. Right? That's hard. We've got a solution finder up on our dot com site that you can go through and it asks you these questions and leads you down a path and gives you a quick, you know, here's the right recommendation from our perspective for that particular user. So some of those kind of qualifying questions would be are are you in a very noisy office or you know maybe where is your include like where your desk is located, those things, those kinds of things and also work style questions about, you know, would you prefer, you know, single or dual layer wearable wireless? Do you need to walk, you know how far away from your desk might you need to walk? And that tells us, you know, do you need a deck type solution or a bluetooth type solution or whatnot? So yeah, definitely go check that out. It's it's a it's a good reference and a good resource for folks. We get a ton of hits on it if you're not using it, A lot of people are so get out there and check it out definitely Well. So you know, let's talk about web or what this hybrid work place looks like in terms of this specific video technology. Can you go over some of the basics then of um I guess maybe the, the best selling the highest profile or maybe some of the the products that a lot of companies end up choosing as their right solution and then can we talk about how this type of video conferencing technology can really help...

...drive productivity because I guess that's the bottom line, right? It is the bottom line, right. I started off and I alluded earlier that it's got to be easy to use and they were going to get one shot when people start to come back into the conference room for them to have a good experience and say this is as good as my experience at home because right now everybody's figured out their home office setups and that's great if they come to the office and it's harder to do work in the office, they won't come back. Some might argue, well that's a good thing because I can shut down my offices and and save some money on real estate. Uh yeah, that might be true, but we're also seeing the great resignation going on right now. And one of the, one of the factors in that is just, you know, people want to get together I think, and I think companies that get this right are going to be encouraging of their, of their employees to come back in the office and get together and intermingle, I think they're going to have better employee retention. So I think that's the argument for getting this right. When it comes to the technology, there's a couple of choices that people have to make and it really comes down to and I'm talking video technology right now. What kind of method do I want to connect? There's a whole, we have a whole class of products that are for the person that says, I just want to plug in using a USB connection and be done with it right. Whether I'm at home or whether in the office literally come in with my laptop, I plug in the USB and I'll have to set just like you would with a webcam to set up my mix and my speakers for each of my calls. And then for that call, let's say I'm in the room, I'm using my USB and my computer is, is the brain. And when I leave I unplug everything and I walk out, some people that's a cheaper solution to go with, a lot of people are choosing that because of the ease of use and if you're employees are willing to take a little time to learn, it's not a bad solution. We've seen a lot of that in education where teachers in the classroom and they want to call in, they can easily do so by connecting up. And we've got this great smart tracking capabilities will track the teacher and follow the person. They don't have to, they don't have to be uh manually adjusting remote controls and that kind of stuff. So that's, that's kind of on the, on the low end of things. But when you start getting into more traditional conference rooms, people don't want to walk in and have to plug in and unplug every time. Or they may be they want to be answering the email while they're on the call, like they did at home and they don't want to dedicate their own device. So for those folks, we've got this class of products are all in one video bars and they have actually a PC built into that video bar. So it's got the camera, it's got the microphones. It's got the speakers, it's got a PC. And all I gotta do is plug it into your monitor. And now when I walk into the room I may have a panel that sits on the desk and it's connected to the calendar. I've booked the room and the room just says, hey, is this christmas meeting? Do you want to press the joint? I press one button and now I join very simple user experience. You can also have it. So you see the whole calendar of the room...

...for the day, the next person books their room and away it goes. So that's nice about having the compute built into the room at all times the interface can either be our own polly interface so that you can jump between one platform or next. Or sometimes it may be the zoom interface or the team's interface that just sits resident on there. It's a little bit of different uh, excuse that you order in the background to make that happen. But fundamentally the same. And the kind of, the other way people do this is instead of having that all in one easy to deploy video bar across the monitor, They may have what's called integrated room. And that's the traditional video system where I might have a camera up front. I might have different ceiling microphones hanging down. I might have different speakers built into the wall. I might have an integrated to the shades and the lighting and the scheduling system outside and those are usually your boardrooms and those costs a little bit more to do there maybe a little bit more complicated to set up. But you can make the user operations seem very seamless and easy. So that's really some of the choices and it kind of depends on what size room, what kind of technology are connecting to and what kind of user experience that you want to have. So I know there's a lot. Yeah, well that's not exactly exactly. And then that means personalized solutions basically instead of a one size fits. All right. Well, so as we start to wrap up our episode today we always close with this question of our guests and that's where do you see technology going in the next year? Well in the in this video space in particular, a couple of things I think are going on one, you're seeing a drive down on on pricing, you're seeing more people going with some of the USB type of solutions and the all in one type of solutions and those tend to be a little cheaper than the traditional integrated room solutions. So we're seeing that we're seeing from a technology standpoint, more automatic framing and tracking solutions where as I said, I walk into a room the camera tracks me as the active talker will zoom in automatically onto my face. The next person starts to talk and it zooms onto there. We in our world call this our Director ai technology. So it just does it for you. We're now going to see more of that coming from multiple cameras and angles. So instead of it just being from the one camera at the front of the room, I might have 234 cameras in the room and whatever the system figures out is the best front shot of my face. It will grab that one and automatically track and frame me. We also see an improvement on the scheduling applications and integrating that finding rooms and choosing rooms and what's available. That's going to be an easier task. Let's see more digital signage on the screens so I can push out information to employees quickly when I'm there. That's just some of the...

...some of the things and then they'll be things about. You know, I know it sounds a little big brother ish but room counting, environmental situations of making sure that room is safe, like alert. You've got more than six people in this room. We've deemed it to be a six person room. Uh somebody needs to get up and leave and go back to their desk. I could see that taking off for people being more interested in making sure that we're adhering to our own policies when when it comes to room uh on the personal side on home office side and video we'll see continue to see higher resolution cameras will continue to see more all in one devices and we'll continue to see prices drop so that people can get better technology on their desktop and hopefully there's a greater awareness of the importance of high quality audio and high quality video. So that's what I see. Yeah, absolutely. Well how can our listeners find out more about what they talked about today? Well first you can go obviously to our www dot polly dot com site, but really a great play for this audience is going to be to contact their ingram policy support team. So there's there's a email address that they can reach out to Polly MD at ingram micro dot com. And also check out the vendor store ingram. That's gonna be a great way for you to learn more information about us and get any of the questions that you have answered because we're always there to help. Fantastic. And maybe with some of this better uh better audio and video conferencing technology, we can finally get rid of that person that just has their phone on speaker. And that that's that's the that's their video conferencing setup. And so any little thing in the background silence is everything I look forward to the day where those those are a distant memory. Yeah, we've got some great tech to noise block tech and director ai tech and audio fencing and a lot of things that we can do, but you're right. Sometimes people just need to need to hit the mute button. Well, thank you so much chris for for joining me today. Thanks for having me Shelby. It's been great. And thank you listeners for tuning in and subscribing to B two B tech Talk with ingram Micro if you like this episode or have a question, please join the discussion on twitter with the hashtag B two B tech talk. Until next time I'm Shelby scare hawk. You've Been listening to B- two B tech talk with ingram Micro. This episode was sponsored by the Ingram Micro one event. B two B Tech Talk is a joint production with Sweet Fish Media and ingram Micro to not miss an episode. Subscribe today on your favorite podcast platform. Mhm.

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