Technology’s impact on employee inclusion in hybrid work model

Holger Reisinger, Senior Vice President at Jabra

In a world where 63% of employees say a hybrid work model is their ideal work pact, only three in ten strongly agree that their firm provides them with the necessary tech to coact equally and inclusively from anywhere. This is according to Jabra’s 2022 edition of the Hybrid Ways of Working Global Report, carried out amongst 2,800 knowledge workers in 6 countries globally to understand sentiments and motivations in this hybrid working era.

The future of work is virtual-first. With millions collaborating on Teams, Zoom, and other platforms, these digital environments are the new standard for how we connect. In fact, many employees have only ever met some of their colleagues on these platforms.

What were the findings of Jabra’s study?

It is critical that leaders do all they can to get the most out of the virtual workspace, so employees can create more human and authentic relationships with their colleagues.

Professional audio technology impacts meeting inclusivity

Jabra’s research found that users of professional audio devices reported feeling more included in virtual meetings than those using either consumer audio devices or microphones and speakers built into their laptops. Users of professional headsets were 11% less likely to feel left out of the conversation in virtual meetings than consumer device or built-in audio users.

Professional headset users were 14% less likely to report not being able to hear what’s being said in the meeting than built-in users and 12% less likely than consumer device users.

Only 30% of workers are using professional audio devices. As 80% of all meetings are either fully virtual or hybrid, with only 20% happening in person, it’s crucial that employees make the most of them with purpose-built tech. A lack of proper tech may make relationship-building in these virtual environments more tenuous and difficult than it needs to be.

Firms that prioritize meeting equity have higher meeting engagement

Since the start of the pandemic and the rise of hybrid work, the term “meeting equity” has entered the discussion to explore how firms can create equitable virtual environments.

In a traditional meeting room, every participant has a place at the table and has equal opportunity to contribute to the meeting. However, a hybrid meeting setting consists of both physical and virtual meeting participants, so true meeting equity becomes harder to achieve.

Firms that take steps towards achieving greater meeting equity are likely to increase engagement. In fact, 56% of hybrid workers say that their firm prioritize meeting equity, resulting in 64% saying they’re just as engaged in hybrid meetings as face-to-face meetings.

This is compared to only 36% of full-time in-office workers who say that their level of engagement matches that of face-to-face meetings; amongst in-office workers, only three in ten feel their firm prioritizes meeting equity. Leaders need to take decisive steps to address meeting equity, regardless of the primary type of work model their organization practices.

Video increases inclusion and productivity in virtual environments

55% consider their office to be their laptop, headset, and wherever they can get a strong internet connection. But the research found a key, location-agnostic way to impact an employees’ wellbeing and productivity levels: video. 61% of employees globally say they feel more included and present in meetings when everyone attending has their camera turned on.

54% feel they can collaborate more productively on video calls than on audio-only calls. This is why 70% of employees say that standardized professional video cameras would help everyone participate equally in hybrid meetings. Leaders have an urgent need to look into the best tech to inclusively connect all employees and partners no matter where they’re. This will be a vital part of achieving greater meeting equity and succeeding in the hybrid future.

What were the executive’s thoughts on the study?

Holger Reisinger, SVP at Jabra, said: “The way we work has changed forever and the current state of knowledge work requires access to digital platforms and tech to be successful.”

“As such, leaders need to prioritize the employee experience and ensure that they can thrive in virtual meetings regardless of location. It starts with identifying technologies that will enable both in-office and remote employees to collaborate on an equal playing field, so employees can seamlessly move between these places without feeling left out, unheard, or distracted.”

“Only then will employees truly be able to work a flexible arrangement on their own terms and have a stronger emotional connection to both their digital and physical workspace.”

To download the full research report, please visit: https://www.jabra.com/hybridwork/2022