How Owl Labs are catching attention in a market that is still unsure about remote working.
Towards the end of last year, the BBC published a piece that claimed that the debate over hybrid working was over. The solution? A mandatory three days in the office with the other two days free to work wherever they like, within reason. Research from Leesman backed up the article too, finding that employees in the United States spent 30% of their working days at home equating to one and a half days a week. Now naturally this isn’t a rule of thumb. However, the trend is gradually falling month on month, year on year from 37% at the start of 2021, to 33% 12 months later. The office appears to be making a comeback. For those with a mandatory office attendance policy, the line to justify it usually revolves around collaboration, communication, and boosting productivity. Last year Zoom came under criticism for introducing a mandatory two days a week policy, saying that the office increases collaboration, a sense of culture and ultimately promotes collaboration and innovation. But where Zoom may be better placed to invest in office culture and ensure workers can maintain productivity levels, Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs, might disagree. “I do think that we are in a weird transition period where companies are trying to still find their way through making this work for them. “There’s 100 million conference rooms in the world and only 10% of them have video equipment that is supporting video, so there’s a lot of room to cover there.” Focusing on Employees With so many meeting rooms seemingly unable to satisfy the needs of the modern worker, one might argue that mandating days in the office is somewhat of a fallacy that could be detrimental to the business. Owl Labs research, along with the great resignation we saw after the pandemic, backs this idea up as employees seem to prefer a flexible work week, and will go out of their way to find one.
“This goes back to listening to employees,” said Weishaupt. “Our research shows that if employees are forced into the office 10% will quit right away, and the third will start looking for a job. So half your employee base is at risk if you make this decision for them. “If I look at Owl, we’ve been hybrid from the start. We’ve always hired the most qualified person, we didn’t care where they were, because we believe that video is key to strong hybrid collaboration, and we want the people here to be effective and produce the best results for the company.” As Owl Labs has hired employees based on talent rather than location, Weishaupt set up the model as a commonsense approach to hiring. “If I look at the marketing team, half of the team is here in our headquarters, and half of them are spread remotely throughout the world. So if I make the statement that you have to be in the office Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, does that mean that the half that is remote doesn’t? It doesn’t make sense for them to come into the office. “I think corporations are still focused on policies and not necessarily technology. When you think that around 98% of meetings will have at least one remote person, you can see that the meeting experience has to translate everywhere so that I’m able to have this same experience when I’m working from home. “It’s also about listening to your employees. It’s about having productive and happy employees, productive and happy people who do better work and have more loyalty to the company. This isn’t rocket science at the end of the day.” Jet Lagged This approach may not be surprising from a meeting room camera manufacturer, after all, it would be the best advert for a business espousing the benefits of hybrid working to chain employees to the office! Yet, as I dig a little deeper, it’s clear that this model for productivity has been born out of experience earlier in Weishaupt’s career.
Frank Weishaupt CEO
I do think that we are in a weird transition period where companies are trying to still find their way through making this work for them.
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