Nureva and the evolving workplace
There’s no doubt about it, the rate of change in working practices and cultures is increasing. From remote working and dispersed teams, to agile working practices and the flexible use of physical space for activity-based working, the workplace of today is a very different environment to the traditional office set up of even 10 years ago. But is it technology that is fuelling the rate of change, or is it simply developing in response to the new needs that these transformations demand? According to Jon Knight, commercial director of distributor Ascentae, the question isn’t quite that simple.
“In my experience, organisations often invest in technologies that demand teams learn new ways of working, and then wonder why they are not getting the results they had hoped for. But often, there’s nothing wrong with the principles behind the original methods. Indeed, it may be a system that has served the company well for years. What can almost always be improved, however, are the tools used to support those systems, making them as productive and effective as possible.
A great example jumped out at me on a recent visit to the headquarters of one of the country’s most famous accounting practices. A team there was in the middle of a brainstorming session using Scrum methodology. As the need for more space increased, the writing became smaller and eventually they moved from the wall to the recently purchased Surface Hub. This £20k piece of kit was covered in post-it notes! Now the Surface Hub is a great product, but the company had bought one without really understanding whether it could help support their processes or not. In this case, the space that had been designed was just not appropriate for the activity that was taking place.”
So, moving back to the original question, the answer is maybe a bit of both. Cultural changes drive new ways of thinking, but in many cases these can only be realised thanks to the available technology. Certainly, we can identify some key trends that have huge implications for the workplace, with a resulting demand for supporting technology, such as:
- Employees will increasingly work in dispersed workplaces such as at branch offices, supplier or customer locations, home or even other countries. Organisations will still need a centralised office, providing an environment to support a wide variety of needs such as activity-based working, and enable collaboration between the employees.
- The need to keep such workers engaged and connected. Physical distance can be a barrier to working together effectively. To ensure a fragmented workforce feels part of the team, companies need to develop strategies to link together social and work interactions. And crucially the deployed technology should allow remote workers to use familiar methods of working.
- The change in the makeup of the modern workforce. With predictions that the Millennial generation will make up 35% of the global workforce, and Gen Z 24% by 2020, companies need to understand their requirements. Often vaunted as “entitled” it could be argued that workplaces need to change to meet the needs of this huge section of the workforce. A generation who has been experimental and tech savvy almost from birth, it’s no wonder that they get frustrated by rigid and outdated working practices that don’t allow them to use their skills.
- As a result of the above, a move towards more agile ways of working, creating a flexible and productive environment. By creating different working areas within an office, the organisation gives their staff the freedom and flexibility to work where they want, when they want. In fact, up to 18 different activities and resultant spaces have been identified in the modern workplace. The benefit of the right technology is that those multiple spaces’ differing needs can be met with one software platform.
So if we accept that collaboration is a vital element of new ways of working such as agile and activity-based practices, what types of technology can accelerate collaborative processes?
Solutions from forward-thinking manufacturers such as Nureva can do this with expansive, cloud-based canvases and advanced audio conferencing that uses totally new technology. The company prides itself on creating solutions that are incredibly easy for people to use, are adaptable to existing processes and designed to enable the physical and virtual spaces where they come together – in the same room or around the world.
Nureva Wall and Span Workspace are the hardware and software elements of a total collaboration solution. Whether adding notes, using templates, sharing screens or more, each canvas provides up to a massive 200′ (60.96 m) of digital space to visualise ideas and plans. A cloud-based solution, all members of the team have the information they need available on any device.
In a nutshell, the system takes the principle of collaborating with sticky notes and fast tracks it to the digital age. And in the latest updates, users can develop their own templates that integrate into their existing processes such as agile, lean and design thinking. Any member of the team can type or write an idea or task on a note or say more with a text box. They can insert images – perhaps a screenshot of an interface – and annotate over it. Or sketch out a wireframe. All contributions can be made from any device and appear in real time onto the canvas. Individual screens can be shared onto the canvas – and more than one shared screen can be seen at once. Because it is cloud-based, teams can work in real or any time – as the UK team finishes work, their west coast US colleagues can seamlessly pick up the project.
Complementing Span is the HDL300 advanced audio system, available as a single or dual model depending on room size. At the core of the system is Nureva’s unique Microphone Mist technology. This technology fills the room with up to 16,384 virtual microphones, that pick-up voice contributions from anywhere in the room. The technology not only overcomes all the traditional barriers of poor audio but frees up individuals to walk around the room and interact with the rest of the team, unencumbered by lapel mics or loss of clarity. Use of the HDL300 creates a totally natural environment where people can talk to people, not to microphones.
Whilst these innovative technologies are quite new to the market, they are already evolving to keep up with the pace of change. Major new features were recently launched at Infocomm. “Follow me” is a new element within Span Workspace designed to make remote sessions more engaging . It allows all remote participants to see a viewing pane – a selected area of the canvas – highlighted by the person leading the meeting on their own devices, thus ensuring that everyone is looking at the same part of the canvas. The delegates have the option to turn this feature off if they want to explore the canvas independently.
On the audio side, Intelligent Sound Targeting has been added to the Microphone Mist technology powering HDL300. This feature adds new intelligence to the virtual microphones that identifies and ignores persistent unwanted background sounds, for example, air con units, printers and so on. It pre-emptively identifies and eliminates these sounds that can disrupt the audio flow.
The pace of workplace change is unlikely to slow but it seems that innovative manufacturers such as Nureva, with its fresh approach to new challenges, are likely to thrive. In a final word, Ascentae’s Knight comments: “I recently read a LinkedIn article highlighting the companies and individuals who are transforming the industry. It was no surprise to see Eric Yuan of Zoom at number one, and he was closely followed by Nancy Knowlton of Nureva. Every day I see the way Nureva is challenging convention, and that’s why we choose to work with them.”