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Creating an Adaptable Workplace: An AVI LIVE Panel Discussion

Audiovisual August 10, 2023

By Brad Sousa

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One of the things I enjoy most about my role as Chief Technology Officer for AVI Systems is speaking with other business leaders about how they use technology in the workplace.  

At AVI LIVE, I sat down with Philippe Depallens, VP and General Manager at Logitech, and AVI’s Enterprise Solutions Practice Director, Jason Roberts for a panel discussion that focused on returning to the office. Specifically, we spoke about what having a seat at the table means in today’s hybrid work world, and how to make artificial intelligence a little less creepy. Here’s a recap of this AVI LIVE panel discussion. 

Q: We’re still hearing a lot about the return to office, with some organizations even going so far as to say the purpose of the office is dead. What do you see firsthand?  

A: If you go back to our pre-pandemic office experience, you could go into a conference room, and you would be able to communicate with colleagues worldwide using decent video equipment.  

Then, many of us started working from home during the pandemic and added good, quality equipment. This created more of a face-to-face conversation like you were in a conference room together. And it had an equitable quality about it. 

Now, as people return to the office, they realize the experience is no longer as good or as equitable because you have some people who are at home and others in the office.  

So, what we’re doing at Logitech is looking at how to bring back the equality people experienced when working at home. This means asking questions like: how can we enable better experiences? How can we support the social aspect of coming to the office? And how can we convince people that coming to the office is worth it? I call this “earning” our team’s commute.  

Q: We’ve probably all used the expression “having a seat at the table.” Where is the table in today’s hybrid way of doing business? Because that’s where the influencers will want to sit.  

A: We should no longer worry about where the table is or even if there is a table. What truly matters is our interaction among humans and ensuring technology doesn’t interfere with that.  

For example, my microphone shouldn’t be in the way when we talk with one another, and my connectivity shouldn’t fade in and out. If that happens, you’re suddenly more focused on that than what I’m saying. It’s terribly distracting. 

At Logitech, we take pride in putting humans at the center of everything we do and enabling them to communicate with anyone anywhere. Part of that is staying focused on the purpose of people’s conversations rather than how great the technology is.  

Q: What are some of the things you’re doing from an AI perspective to make the office more consumable and to provide an equitable experience there?  

A: Because we’ve gotten comfortable with Teams meetings where everyone is visually equal, there’s a certain expectation for this environment to exist at every meeting. So, when people returned to the office, the first thing we heard were questions such as:  

  • How equitable is this meeting?  
  • Is there a proximity bias?  
  • If the conversation in the actual meeting room starts getting more intense, is the person on the call being forgotten? Or vice versa? 

We need to learn new behaviors when there’s a duality in conversation, and the devices will have to evolve, too. For example, our new Logitech Sight camera sits in the middle of the table and uses AI to analyze different people in the room. As people have conversations, the camera acts as a producer, taking everyone’s faces and putting them in the same size and shape on the screen. In this way, people working remotely can see everyone around the table just as if they were all on a video call.  

This is exactly what I think AI and other technologies will do in the future. They will remove the fact that someone is in the office and someone is at home and create an interaction and experience that is almost as natural as being in the same room. 

Q: What do we do to make sure that AI doesn’t become creepy? 

A: It comes down to transparency and being as upfront as possible about what we’re doing. If we’re transparent and empower individuals to choose what they want to do or share, I think people will get used to it just like anything else. And convenience always wins over time. 

Q: We are all still learning about how workers want to consume the office. Adaptability is a critical element to making this work. How important is adaptability to you? 

A: As leaders we would seek new team members that had a high IQ. Then we learned to also seek those with a high EQ…meaning those who have a strong Emotional Intelligence. This brings value to the team by understanding how people emotionally processed situations and opportunities. Today good leaders are also seeking a high AQ or Adaptability Quotient. This means how adaptable is our team to change amid emerging situations. High AQ leaders are not derailed by unexpected situations. High AQ leaders understand that to stay relevant to their customers we have to embrace change and adapt to a changing landscape. 

Q: We’ve covered several topics. What’s the one big thing you want people to understand about the evolution of the workplace? 

A: Don't be afraid to iterate when recreating the office for the future. Nobody else has the right answer for your company. Many companies are enablers, but ultimately you need to take the enablement and turn it into what’s right for you.  

What my office looked like a year ago is 100% different than what it looks like today. So, my biggest advice is to iterate rapidly – test, validate, and interact with your users. Slowly but surely, things will evolve for you.  

Want to learn more about modern AV?  

We have a new podcast in the works just for you! In September, we’ll start sharing the “Eyes on Impact” podcast – conversations with AVI CTO Brad Sousa and IT leaders from around the world who happen to be navigating this new era of technology, engagement, and human impact.

Watch for more details about the podcast coming soon! 

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©AVI Systems, Inc., 2023 

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