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graphicstock businessman with city and wireless communication network background abstract image visual internet of things rdzl0x2weig e1613631423910

2021: a new era for corporate communications and hybrid working

By Colin Farquhar, CEO, Exterity

As we move into 2021, we face a starkly different world from the one we did in the first two months of 2020. When news of the COVID-19 outbreak first spread around the world, little did we appreciate the far-reaching impact it would have. A constant need for social distancing, accompanied by a series of lockdowns and other restrictions in countries around the world since early 2020, has had a long-lasting, perhaps permanent, impact on the way that we work.

Now, with vaccination programmes being rolled out in countries around the world, vigilance is still key as new variants of the virus are emerging, and uncertainty means conditions in offices and other workplaces remain in a state of flux. Many businesses have had to shift their world view on digital tools, adding or bolstering IP video and digital signage technologies to help them successfully adapt to the current climate.

With a huge proportion of the workforce now operating remotely, it has become essential to allow teams and employees to stay connected. Yet a considerable number in government, public service, logistics, healthcare, finance, public service, the grocery trade, food service and other essential sectors are still required to be onsite in the workplace. Dispersed workforces still need to receive important company updates, and key workers who need to keep going into their designated workplaces constantly require detailed information on the latest guidelines on social distancing, sanitation procedures and other safety measures. Equipping both the staff still needed in the workplace, and those forced to make home offices more permanent with the tools to communicate better and stay safe as the pandemic evolves, is an ongoing process for most organisations.

For those working from home, what was first thought to initially be a temporary measure to help minimise any additional waves of infection, may at some point give way to a permanent hybrid approach to work, even after the pandemic is brought under control. With remote working taking on a much more significant role in how organisations operate, it is crucial that employees have the right tools to ensure they can stay up to date with the latest company news and announcements, training and government policies. At the same time, those that are still travelling into offices, depots and other sites need to be kept safe, and effective communication on the state of play with the pandemic and what they need to do to stay safe – along with assurances that every step possible is being taken to protect them – is critical. For businesses trying to keep all parts of their workforces informed and engaged, video-based technologies, including IPTV and digital signage, will be essential and underpin all communications.

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Colin Farquhar
Colin Farquhar

We already see many of these technologies deployed effectively in many sectors. In the banking and finance sector, for instance, IP video and digital signage technologies were already well utilised even before the pandemic. The Bank of China offers one such example, implementing an IP video solution to facilitate the live streaming of business channels, allowing employees to stream financial feeds to their desks while ensuring that information impacting the whole group is distributed to screens in public areas. Staff can quickly evaluate transaction risks and keep track of the latest trends and regulations in real-time. This type of rapid, individualised information-sharing is more critical than ever and can be deployed by many organisations to support the business, while also keeping employees abreast of the latest development and guidelines relating the pandemic.

As more people are allowed back into offices, IP video-based technologies – including the secure delivery of content to any device and facility-wide digital signage – will play an increasingly important role in ensuring that vital communications reach people wherever they’re based – especially if they have to remain spread out, even within offices. For instance, Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of news and information for professionals in the financial services, media and corporate markets has an IP video system that delivers broadcast-quality TV and video to over 300 displays in conference rooms and lecture theatres, as well as 2,500 screens and desktops around its London headquarters. This enables staff to keep up to speed with the latest news around the world as events, such as critical developments on the coronavirus vaccine programme, unfold in real time – as well as recorded and internal content.

Certainly, IP-based technologies are more valuable than ever to the healthcare sector – especially in the current climate, as the latest news about vaccinations and information on new strains of COVID-19 is of grave importance. It is now more vital than ever that healthcare workers have easy access to training and information about the latest developments relating to the pandemic – everything from guidelines on vaccination deployment and treatment procedures to updates on new variants and the latest safety procedures. IP video technologies can play a significant role in keeping people connected and updated on the situation as it continues to develop at a rapid pace.

French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi offers a good example of how IP video technologies are used by a healthcare company. Sanofi deployed an IPTV system to provide staff across its Paris offices with quick and easy access to internal communications, as well as news from French and international medical, business and news channels to keep everyone informed of the latest healthcare situations and developments. The deployment of an IP video system means that it can easily distribute information in real time from sources around the world – including news and information relating to COVID-19, with the company involved in the development of a vaccine with GlaxoSmithKline.

The uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic shows no sign of abating and businesses in virtually every sector continue to feel the impact even as news of the ongoing deployment of vaccinations offers hope. Nonetheless, if people have no choice but to go into work at hospitals, banks, warehouses, government facilities, pharmacies or any other essential institutions, digital signage and IPTV are crucial tools in keeping everyone safe and feeling secure. For teams plugging in remotely, using secure IP-based communications that they can easily access, regardless of their location or device, will help keep teams united and informed so they can continue to do their job to the highest standard.  While the latest UK lockdown measures are in place, businesses up and down the country can be assured that their employees are connected and engaged through the use of IP video and digital signage technology.

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