Shure, IDC Uncover ‘Secret’ to Productive Hybrid Employees

Shure, a manufacturer of audio solutions known for quality, performance and durability, commissioned premier global market research firm, IDC, to conduct a study on the challenges facing organizations in the age of hybrid work. Analyzing attitudes from more than 600 interviews across China, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, the research assesses what stands in the way of successful hybrid working environments.

Effective hybrid working environments are few and far between. The research uncovered how organizations can position themselves better to handle modern-day working environments and optimize day-to-day communication, company culture, employee and client experiences and team satisfaction.

Globally, organizations realize that many current set-ups are not effective; 94 percent of respondents expect hybrid meetings to remain a pillar of work, yet more than 50 percent are pushing for a full return to office to improve corporate identity and collaboration.

Organizations want to improve collaboration and believe a full return to office is the solution; IDC research says otherwise and indicates that a return to office is not the only answer.

Data show businesses overlook opportunities to improve the employee experience regardless of location, and that an investment in high-quality audio results in more collaborative and flexible ways of working.

“Hybrid meeting environments became the new normal in recent years, and it’s apparent that they’re here to stay, but organizations still are not equipped with the tools needed for effective communication — even though many have tried. As a result, employees are left discouraged and disengaged, creating a cycle of frustration. It’s critical that from the very top of the organization and down, employees are using the right technology that enables them to communicate the right way,” said Robin Hamerlinck, chief information officer at Shure.

“Sourcing the correct audio equipment is the first step, and a step that puts all employees on the same playing field, so that meeting equity is achieved,” Hamerlinck continued. “As a leader in audio conferencing and communication, we commissioned IDC to address these audio challenges and prove that it is possible for both employers and employees to thrive in hybrid environments.”

Many hybrid meetings have challenges. At the executive level, this can trigger a demand for a complete return to office to enable effective collaboration. This is where the great mismatch lies.

According to the IDC InfoBrief, a full return to office, or a fully remote workforce, fails to capture the value that can be realized with hybrid work, which can enable effective communication with colleagues globally. But hybrid technology must work repeatedly.

When a hybrid system fails to work, employees are left frustrated. When asked about the main challenges of hybrid work, respondents highlighted:

  1. Poor communication and collaboration abilities
  2. Distracted employees and low attention levels
  3. Technology shortfalls that impact collaboration

While audio quality is not the only concern raised when specifying solutions for a hybrid environment, audio quality has an impact on individual and group productivity.

Research by Eryn J. Newman and Norbert Schwarz, found poor audio quality causes listeners to perceive the speaker as less trustworthy, less intelligent and less likable. In addition, the content being presented is seen to be less important.

Scientific research underscores that high audio quality leads to increased trustworthiness and suggests the person with the best audio quality will probably be considered the meeting’s best contributor if others have not optimized their equipment.

Additionally, companies at a higher hybrid maturity level are more likely to have invested in better audio quality equipment, resulting in an enhanced hybrid working experience:

  • Of organizations that are thriving financially, 72 percent use professional audio equipment
  • Of those who see stable economic performance, 63 percent are using professional audio equipment

The right technology serves to optimize the work experience, and organizations that can identify and break the cycle of frustration can improve overall morale and satisfaction. Marginal gains of quality audio influence organizational reputation. Organizations that invest in audio can see a significant impact from the first meeting to the last:

  • Team Motivation – 94 percent of respondents believe that technology investments can help recreate the natural flow of face-to-face meetings, contributing to team motivation
  • Productivity – 90 percent of respondents say it enables and encourages meeting equity to help achieve more productive and meaningful work
  • Employee Retention – 90 percent of staff see it as an investment in their future at the company
  • Organization Image – 90 percent of respondents say it impacts the way staff and clients feel about an organization
  • Employee Well-Being and Happiness – 73 percent of respondents say it makes them feel valued, appreciated, and more capable
  • Heightened Agility and Decision-Making – 49 percent of respondents say it improves decision making

Once organizations identify and accept the cycle of frustration, purchase decisions and technology implementation become critical. When hybrid and remote work environments took hold, organizations pursued quick fix purchases that failed to include key stakeholders in the decision-making process.

The result of poor, uninformed decision-making is inadequate audio solutions that do not work for the benefit of employees. These solutions now must be replaced with technology that enables productive work environments.

When procuring professional audio equipment, 65 percent of respondents said price was the most important factor for organizations planning to use audio and 52 percent said audio quality mattered most. However, for organizations that already use professional audio equipment, the number one priority shifts to audio quality – 64 percent of respondents said audio quality is the most important factor whereas 58 percent of respondents said price.

Regardless of location, research shows that not investing in audio is as consequential to the organization in terms of a slow erosion of critical functions and capabilities. By investing in audio, organizations will see more collaborative and flexible ways of working, as well as greater engagement from remote and hybrid employees, customers, and partners.

To discover additional insights and learn more on how to resolve key challenges of hybrid working, download the IDC InfoBrief sponsored by Shure here.