“11 Ways the Integration Business Will Change This Decade” is a wide-ranging analysis by NSCA board members of the future of integration, originally published in the special Pivot to Profit+ section of the Q3 2021 edition of our quarterly trade journal, Integrate. This column discusses the importance of adapting to post-pandemic collaboration.
Customers are shifting to a hybrid/remote work culture, which changes demands post-pandemic collaboration requirements
Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, COVID-19 has fundamentally changed how Americans work.
The pandemic forced people and businesses alike to fully embrace the work-from-home movement, and, at least from the employee perspective, they liked what they saw. I have seen a number of different articles all with the same basic message: A big portion of the American workforce is not interested in going back to their desks. An article in USA Today put the number of employees willing to change careers rather than return to the office at 30%. Forbes backs this up: Employees looking for new jobs list remote work second behind wages in terms of decision criteria.
Employers are clearly getting the message, as a recent survey by MSNBC indicates that 9 out of 10 businesses plan to have a work-from-home option as part of their return-to-work plan.
The most striking number in the articles I have read is that between 20% and 30% of Americans are now looking for a work-from-home position. That’s important: Nearly 1 in 4 employees is going to be remote, and that means every meeting space in a facility has to support remote participation.
Enter video-based conferencing, with Microsoft, Zoom, Cisco, and many others offering budget-friendly solutions to turn every room into an online collaboration space. With 1 in 4 employees working remotely, every conference room, regardless of size, is going to need to support online and post-pandemic collaboration.
Opportunity, however, is never without challenges. In high-end spaces AV integrators are used to, features were often just as important as budgets. Smaller rooms are different. Price, reliability, consistency, and ease of maintenance are huge concerns for customers. Capitalizing on this type of work is all about efficiency: delivering reliable rooms as a value while maintaining profit margin.
We’re already seeing this start: One of our largest customers just commissioned a remodel of their main campus as part of a return-to-work plan. They increased their conference room density by 300% and every room supports video.
This puts integrators in a great position to capitalize. Customers are hesitant to take on these types of spaces themselves. If we can provide a painless, cost-effective answer to their post-pandemic collaboration needs, the opportunity looks to be nearly endless.
Andrew Russell is the director of technical services for SVT. He works closely with Josh Shanahan, CEO of SVT and immediate past president of NSCA