As offices around the world begin to reopen, businesses are grappling with the prospect hybrid working like never before.
Some reports suggest that as many as four out of five businesses could adopt a hybrid model with some huge enterprises – such as Ford, Microsoft, Citigroup and a host of tech firms – planning to do so.
A crucial component of this new hybrid model will be working from home, but there are a number of elements that are different about home offices
Home workers have to tackle challenges that aren't typically present in office environments, and much of the IT equipment that people have had home are not best equipped for dealing with these challenges.
For example – consumer headsets typically don't deliver the best quality audio, while many laptops are known to have below-par cameras.
Then there are environmental factors, with makeshift home offices lacking the quality of lighting seen in offices, making video calls difficult.
It's also inevitable that when users at home they'll have to handle the occasional personal issue, perhaps dealing with children and pets.
All of these challenges have played a vital role in how Yealink has built out its product portfolio for the hybrid age.
For example, the vendor describes its WH6 workstation series as something of an all-in-one office.
It includes a DECT headset, speakerphone, USB hub and phone charger and is plug-and-play, avoiding any complex installations – which is important, given that home workers will not have an IT team on-hand.
The multi-device element of the workstation gives workers a choice of how they collaborate when working. For example, workers at home may choose to work in different rooms because they're not tied to a desk in an office.
The integrated speakerphone and earphone that feature in the WH6 Series mean that a user can switch the earphone or speakerphone arbitrarily according to the situation, which can relieve ear fatigue. This avoids the need to purchase multiple devices to switch between, and also lets users roam while on a call.
Good quality audio and video is crucial for any meeting, no matter where it is taking place. But this can be more difficult to achieve in the home office.
Achieving this is becoming more complicated because of hybrid working – with some participants in an office, some at home and some on the move. The device is plug-and-play and can be managed from Yealink's USB Connect application.
Yealink has also built innovations designed to tackle environmental challenges.
Lighting, for example, can become a problem at home in dimly lit areas – compared to bright offices.
Yealink's UVC webcam uses Smart Light technology to optimise images, even in low lighting. It also performs exposure compensation around the user's face, making sure they can be clearly seen.
Similar challenges exist in the audio space. The murmur of an office environment is expected on calls, but the abrupt sound of a dog barking or someone knocking on the door can be distracting when participating in a meeting from home.
The Yealink WH6 features advanced noise cancellation which the vendor says can eliminate most unnecessary noise, providing clear sound quality and transmission.
While the future of hybrid working may still be uncertain, what is clear is that technology is the key to making it work for everyone.
Devices that are mobile, high quality and effective to use are the best starting point – especially when working remotely or from home.