As we come out of isolation and brush off the rubble of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is no doubt that one of its derivatives, remote and hybrid work, is here to stay. According to Buffer.com’s 2022 State of Remote Work report, 97% of employees want to work remotely, at least part of the week, even after the pandemic. Though they don’t necessarily want to work from home (only 51% want to work from home), they want flexibility in where they choose to work, including coffee shops and co-working spaces. To retain their workforce, business leaders are moving to allow for remote work options as the pandemic wanes.
Still, business leaders have legitimate concerns with a staff that works exclusively, or mostly, remotely. After all, working remotely traditionally allows for fewer opportunities to collaborate, especially the impromptu collaboration that results from casual conversations among workers in the same place at the same time.
Secondly, company culture suffers when employees feel isolated. As a result, employees feel as if they are dispensable independent contractors and less a part of something greater than themselves. Employees who feel disconnected from the company are easier to lose to the highest bidder. We all want to feel like we are apart of something we believe in. Remote work fosters disconnection.
This begs the question, is there a way to have both? Is there a way to have a remote or hybrid workforce that feels connected to the company’s vision yet has the flexibility to meet its needs? How do we embody culture, communication, and collaboration remotely that is as good as being onsite?
One company, Coolpo, says yes. Coolpo’s vision is to design technology to connect remote and in-person teams in a way that makes collaboration seamless. In fact, it’s name reflects that vision. “We came up with the name Coolpo because our products are innovative (‘cool’), and they help connect people (‘p’) and organizations (‘o’),” says CEO Ray Zhu.
Office decentralization is an accelerating trend. Pre-pandemic, main offices in metropolitan areas started to create satellite offices closer to employees’ homes to promote hybrid work, or remote work combined with co-working and collaborative spaces meetings.
Since the onset of the pandemic, online and offline collaboration spaces have become increasingly more common in companies. These are flexible areas within the office that allow hybrid workers to easily switch from office or co-work to remote work from home, and vice versa. We are now seeing more and more co-working spaces for rent near suburban areas and residential communities. Many remote and hybrid workers who wish to work at home or closer to home in co-working spaces have opted to create dedicated work areas when they are working from home. These changes definitely challenge company culture and collaboration.
“We want to help our customers experience the same company culture and teamwork as they did before the pandemic,” Zhu continues. “We aim to redefine online team collaboration through our AI-integrated devices. We have leveraged the latest innovations to provide the business world with immersive meeting experiences and we continue to improve upon these technologies.”
Can a company that designs video conferencing hardware do all that? Coolpo believes it can, and even more. Too often voices are overlooked in the boardroom, especially those of women and other minorities. Coolpo’s technology enables everyone to be heard and recognized equally.
The increasing globalization of the workforce amid a global pandemic proved that crucial meetings do not require plane tickets and jet lag.
“We are now entering into Globalization 2.0 where Coolpo has found a complete change in human resources possibilities,” says Matthew Chou, co-founder and vice-president of global operations. “Globalization 1.0 is about trading, the flow of money and goods, whereas Globalization 2.0 will allow all types of companies to hire employees abroad, breaking demographic location constraints. Workers can work from home or in hybrid conditions because companies already have hardware and software mechanisms for remote team collaboration. We see this trend in certain industries, such as FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), and we expect other industries will soon join.”
And yet, virtual meetings conducted over outdated video conferencing hardware come up far short of in-person meetings. Coolpo’s challenge then was to create a video conferencing solution that is just as good as being there.
Coolpo has designed a video conference camera that is 4K, AI-based, and can highlight active meeting participants through movement and sound. Consisting of four smart microphones, a 360-degree tracking camera, and an all-around-sound speaker, it stitches together a panoramic display of the room using its own Meeting Flex technology, which can be used in conjunction with Zoom, Teams, WebEx , and other conferencing software. Continuous upgrades have included the customization of three focus frames, blocking out unwanted areas, and camera setting controls.
“We believe that the video conferencing industry has three generations of technology,” says Chou. “In the first one, hardware allowed users to merely hear and see others. The second generation produced somewhat clearer sound and audio. The third and current generation offers more realistic and interactive products for immersive online meetings. Products such as the Coolpo AI Huddle Series, Zoom, and interactive whiteboards are all manifestations of this technology.”
Let’s face it. We’ve all experienced Zoom fatigue. Online meetings and remote team collaborations were difficult, if not impossible, for most companies during the pandemic. In a video conferencing meeting over Zoom and its alternatives, getting the right information and general “feel” of the meeting had been almost impossible. After all, at least half of communication is non-verbal. The time has come for a technology that delivers crystal-clear sound and 4K video that communicates facial expressions and body language.
Coolpo envisions a future where people can rely fully on video conferencing to do business. This will only happen when technology is capable of supporting our need for human connection and collaboration. Whether we’re working in-house, remotely, or a hybrid of the two, the human element is essential for employee satisfaction, retention, and ultimately, business success.