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Collaboration in a hybrid office: A return-to-work checklist for employers

A return to the office and renewed opportunities for in-person collaboration are finally in sight for businesses and their employees.

But pre-pandemic approaches to managing and equipping office spaces are no longer sufficient in 2021. Now is the time for companies to start planning how to safely and efficiently bring employees back to the workplace. 

To help local executives plan for the return to the office, OBJ and sponsor Interactive Audio Visual teamed up to explore the tools every employer needs to safely return to a collaborative workspace.

This is an edited transcript of a discussion between Interactive Audio Visual sales manager Brent Riskie and OBJ publisher Michael Curran. To hear the full interview, please watch the video above. Prefer an audio version of this podcast? Listen to it on SoundCloud or Spotify.

CURRAN: How can employers manage their office capacity when employees start to return to the workplace?

RISKIE: There are several ways – and several platforms – that give employers and employees control over their workplace. We’ll likely see the wider adoption of apps that allow employees to book a workstation, which will enable an employer to decide how many seats they want available on any given day and control how many people are in the office. It can be a really efficient way to track how your workspace is being used and ensure everyone is staying safe. 

CURRAN: Brent, help us understand how offices can connect to remote employees or clients for meetings.

RISKIE: If your office currently doesn’t have AV technology, there are some inexpensive and efficient ways to connect a hybrid team. Soundbars, for example, can come equipped with microphones and a camera. If you simply mount it below a TV, your office can have a very simple but high-quality conferencing solution without blowing the budget. Taking things one step further, we can even implement QR codes to allow employees to connect to the systems, making them touchless and safer for shared spaces.

CURRAN: Let’s talk about air quality as well. Many companies might think they can’t control air quality since they lease their office space, but IAV has some systems that can help with this.

RISKIE: We have an in-room air cleaning system that can purify the air space and provide a peace of mind for employees. There are systems that you can integrate into your HVAC system as well, but more inexpensive options can sit directly in the room, which is a great visual cue that the office is safe. They are very quiet, and can reduce airborne particles such as those related to COVID-19.