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The future of Business communication products – IT Weekly, ALLCIO

How will the pandemic make them more human?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were frequent discussions about the reluctance of young generations-millennials and zoomers — to answer calls and use communication tools with real-time voice communication. Even if this is not realistic in all professions and specializations, it was hardly possible to completely ignore the trend of that time. But the subsequent lockdown, the transition of employees to remote work, and the creation of hybrid jobs returned and radically strengthened the positions of voice and video communication. Moreover, the focus on tools and technologies for real-time communication has become a priority in many business areas.

Voice and video are trending again

Correspondence by e-mail and in messengers has undeniable advantages. For example, they allow you to reliably record the agreements reached, clearly and without ambiguity to indicate the position or summarize the results of the meeting. And they also do not force an immediate response, allowing you to finish the current task without losing focus and reducing productivity. However, when switching to remote work and hybrid schedules, e-mail and messengers have demonstrated their inability to completely replace live communication with colleagues, urgent questions, meetings, and meetings. Voice and video communication in the realities of the pandemic has shown its effectiveness when it requires prompt decision-making, empathy or persuasion, motivation of employees, demonstration of the right emotional coloring in complex discussions, and in cases when a work issue requires collecting and taking into account different points of view.

Taking your work home is not enough

The removal or partial transformation of the living space into a working space is not suitable for everyone. The productivity of some employees increases significantly in the office environment, while it is difficult for others to find a balance between work and personal life when it is combined in one territory. It is impossible to completely exclude the influence of character traits and lifestyle on work productivity in the conditions of a pandemic. Nor will it be possible to reduce the risk of intellectual and emotional burnout, the appearance of a sense of isolation, or the feeling that work is beginning to absorb personal life. However, there is still a way to minimize the negative effects of remote work or a hybrid model. The solution to the problem is to create a convenient and well-equipped home workplace, where an employee would have the opportunity to” disconnect ” from the home environment, use effective tools for work, and would feel his productivity at an approximate office level.

Communication devices: closing the pyramid of needs

For manufacturers of communication equipment and employers interested in high-quality equipment for remote and hybrid workplaces, a new list of tasks has appeared, which should not only take into account the conditions of the pandemic but also aim at the future and the post-coronavirus reality. At the basic level, communication gadgets should be convenient for employees, durable and cost-effective for business owners, and effectively solve work tasks. Hybrid and remote workplaces have added new requirements. New products must be mobile to allow for rapid deployment of the workplace without being tied to the company’s office. Instead of specialized devices for individual tasks, multifunctional all-in-one gadgets are beginning to become popular. And most importantly, the equipment needs to be easy to use and maintain, because, with hybrid and remote workplaces, the availability of service and technical support is significantly reduced.

Prosumerism — an advanced level of requirements for gadgets

After the basic requirements for devices on the part of business owners and employees are closed, an expanded wish list appears. High competition in the consumer electronics and business segment of gadgets has led to the fact that brands now hear their users well and create products where human needs are at the center of attention. In addition to the availability, reliability, and functionality of devices, an important role is played by the user experience when working with devices and related software, attention to responsible consumption issues, and the possibility of reducing the number of devices while increasing the lifecycle. And in general, the course of manufacturing companies towards sustainable development with a reduction of the carbon footprint and ethical production is becoming important for consumers.

Gadgets for business with attention to the person

What will be the next stage in the development of telecommunications equipment? Most likely, we are waiting for devices with high mobility, increased work-life and reliability, capable of” switching ” between office use scenarios and the needs of home workplaces. The modularity of solutions that has not taken root in consumer electronics — when instead of buying a new product, you can upgrade part of it-can show its effectiveness in gadgets for business. Increasing the lifecycle, enhanced customization options, and reducing the carbon footprint are the three main benefits of modular products. And for sure, we will see the appearance of a completely new functionality that was not previously required in the b2b segment. For example, in the conditions of homework, effective noise reduction for headphones and microphones becomes important, and when returning to the office — the “transparency” mode, so as not to fall out of the surrounding world. For video communication, software solutions for image adaptation will be developed, including scenarios of insufficient lighting or hiding the “background” in a home office environment. In general, for all products, we are waiting for the design of increasingly simple and convenient software (perhaps with an eye to the trends of the UI and UX of the mobile market), so that users do not need the help of specialists when connecting and configuring.

We live in a time when we have to equip home offices, master hybrid models, change everyday habits in communicating with clients and colleagues, research for a balance between work and personal life, pay attention to ourselves, others, and the whole planet. At the same time, it is important that both employees and companies take into account the features of the “new reality” when they have to search for and master new tools for productivity, pay attention to the quality of equipment, software, and in general, equipment of workplaces. It is unlikely that in the near future it will be possible to win back the consequences of the coronavirus, so the only right bet will be on adapting business processes and employees to its consequences.

Dmitry Arkhipov

Director of Business Development at JPL Telecom in Russia and the CIS

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