Build Culture and Connection in the Hybrid Workplace With Telepresence Robots
Updated: Sep 26
Originally published by Training Industry.
Almost every company has remote (or hybrid) workers or visitors needing access to their space and/or people on a regular basis. Telepresence robots enable hybrid work uniquely because they offer an immersive, meaningful experience for remote employees while providing a seamless and smooth interaction for those on site. Hybrid work and learning, regardless of how companies are choosing to apply it, is about having both remote and on-site options for attendance.
Historically, remote workers have felt isolated and disengaged, often thinking:
What am I missing before and after the meeting starts and ends?
Am I adding enough value?
Does my input matter as much as the input from those in the room?
The essential shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a change in mentality that has helped remote workers achieve identity and agency. But significant challenges, both culturally and operationally, remain as the workplace transforms. Workplace and learning solutions must offer accessibility, sustainability and flexibility in order to be effective moving forward.
Video Conferencing Isn’t Enough For team collaboration and for training, “normal” video conferencing can sometimes get the job done, but in many instances, it leaves something to be desired. Conversation about avoiding video meeting fatigue and burnout continues.
From whiteboard creative brainstorms to quarterly town halls to finalizing a pitch, there are many situations where remote employees on static screens do not truly benefit from the same experience as their in-person counterparts. Using a mobile telepresence robot to “teleport in” is something different. It offers a dynamic, immersive and customizable experience for the user. Mobility, custom views and user-friendly interface let remote participants share in the space and collaboration process as if they were physically there.
Mobile, Safe and Customizable The ability to move autonomously, safely, and effectively through a physical space is powerful. Users can have peace of mind with telepresence robots that have sensors for cliff detection and collision avoidance, and they also do not have to drive the robot when there are pre-defined destinations mapped for the robot’s autonomous navigation.
More natural movement can make the difference between engagement and disengagement. Being able to travel through spaces, move closer to join a spontaneous conversation, or position yourself for a better view unlocks a new level of virtual access to people, space and content.
Fully autonomous telepresence robots remove stress from both users and on-site participants by moving how and when it makes the most sense for the situation, whether it be a guided tour of a hospital, an all-hands meeting, a new product training or a quality control check on a factory floor. Bringing independent mobility to telepresence goes beyond “video conferencing on wheels.” It opens doors to experience collaboration and facilitates communication in more natural, nimble ways that give people a sense of autonomy.
Promoting Choice and Well-being Interaction and human connection hold limitless personal and professional value. Remote-first employees might be more productive in a non-office setting and prefer a more flexible approach — not because they do not like interacting with other people — but because this is how they work and learn best.
The juxtaposition of productivity and mental health with rapidly evolving situations form our experience in the workplace. A new light is shining on how happiness, wellness and a sense of autonomy over how we work and learn are driving better business outcomes.
Talent Retention and the Presence Disparity Gap Talent retention is more of a challenge now than it has been in years’ past, and the hybrid work model is accelerating choice, preferences and workplace challenges. Telepresence robots give remote workers choice and presence in a physical environment, promoting easier and more natural interactions. Feeling a sense of belonging, recognition and contribution goes a long way toward improving employee satisfaction and loyalty.
We are faced with many (perhaps too many) unknowns in today’s business environment. For instance, how will the pandemic will continue to shape the workplace? What does hybrid working really look like? There are myriad models in play right now, and it’s hard to tell which one will work for each organization. How should we engage over video meetings?
The balance of defining and maximizing business outcomes while supporting teams with the most appropriate tools is critical. What technologies can shorten sales cycles, or drive immersive customer and team engagement? How can we enhance site visits and give teams a sense of belonging in a realistic way? These are critical themes to consider.
Telepresence robots bring the opportunity to satisfy a range of preferences and expectations from remote workers (and learners) to fruition. Empowering people to be present, spontaneous and in control of their workplace interactions is both an operational and cultural draw. Feeling a sense of belonging, recognition and contribution goes a long way toward improving employee satisfaction, recruitment and retention.
The bottom line? If better connecting and empowering your remote workers and learners makes your business more successful, telepresence robots should be a consideration.