When I joined Poly on January 20th, 2020, audio and video solutions were already important, but not considered indispensable to every organization. Then, on my first day on the job, the US documented its first COVID case just outside of Seattle. Nothing could have prepared any of us for the two years to follow.

In 2020, we rose to the occasion of a global pandemic as every aspect of our lives was disrupted. In 2021, we realized that things were forever changing. The big question for 2022: Can we take all we’ve learned – and are still learning – and create a better version of how we work? We have a short window of opportunity to make things better. To reset. It’s incumbent on all of us to usher in better ways of meeting and collaborating. I’m up for the challenge. Are you?

Here are my top predictions for 2022:

All meetings will include a remote participant and a video component.

The pandemic made it second nature to gather via video, and there’s no turning back. As we get back to more in-person meetings, expect every gathering to include two things:

  1. At least one remote participant.
  2. A video component.

Companies that don’t plan for this reality will see a loss in employee productivity and lower overall satisfaction. In fact, they already are.

Organizations will plan workspaces around worker personas and conference room personas. 

Poly has long studied the personas of different work styles, and we refined those personas during the pandemic. Our customers want a similar understanding of the conference rooms themselves. What are the unique attributes of different types of meeting rooms? How can organizations design around not just the size of meetings but the type of meeting, the purpose of the meeting, the presence of remote attendees, industry-specific needs, and more? Expect more thought leadership – from us, certainly – when it comes to defining and outfitting the modern conference room experience.

Organizations will become more virtual than ever. 

The continuation of virtual meetings is a given, but organizations will expand their definition of what it means to be a virtual – perhaps even borderless – enterprise. Do companies really need a headquarters, for example? If so, what is their purpose going forward? And what should they look like as a result? The same goes for regional offices. All physical spaces will need to be reconsidered in terms of function in light of the growing presence of virtual meetings.

Travel will return – at a reduced rate – but it will look different. 

People are hungry for facetime with colleagues and customers in other parts of the world. With vaccinations more widespread, organizations will continue to loosen up restrictions and encourage travel again. But those trips will need to have a clear purpose, like accelerating an initiative, brainstorming, team building or problem-solving. Regardless, all of these meetings will be supplemented with task-specific, virtual meetings.

Hybrid work decisions will impact “The Great Resignation” – for better or worse.

The much-talked-about Great Resignation has companies doubling down on hiring and retention efforts. Unlike the past, the focus shouldn’t only be limited to salary and title. These efforts should concentrate on building a sense of wellness and belonging. Companies that go the extra mile to offer employees workspaces and technology that foster these goals – both in the office and in-home offices – will have an advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining top performers.

The pandemic and remote working forced us to reevaluate how we approach meetings. What aspects of the old ways of the meeting can we leave behind for good? What new lessons can we embrace and carry forward? Smart organizations will put more thought into creating meetings designed to let us do our best work—in a planning meeting, ideation session, QBR or training. To optimize these gatherings, think about three key levers:

  • Preparation: Put more effort into preparing attendees before they arrive. Give them a proper briefing and deeper context. Get them noodling on important questions. Communicate your meeting objectives in advance. These up-front steps lead to meetings where people are truly engaged instead of passively staring at slides on a screen.
  • Humanity: Build more connections in meetings. After months of seeing each other in our homes and enduring a world crisis together, we’re gotten used to sharing more of our personal lives. How do we build on that new comfort level, carving out opportunities within meetings to foster community, trust, and empathy?
  • Purpose: Infuse more purpose into gatherings, whether in-person or virtual. Don’t fall back on old habits. Think carefully about the reason for getting together. Ask yourself if you can elevate that purpose. Carefully consider the best use of time. And find meaningful ways to energize, support and delight the team.

I wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2022!