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Return to Office Toolkit

Key communication and collaboration considerations to design your strategy for success

Set up your team for productivity in the age of hybrid working

In the Deloitte 2021 Return to Workplaces survey, 68% of executives reported that they intended for their corporate workforce to operate in a hybrid model. This Return to Office (RTO) tool helps you plan, deploy, and adopt video and audio solutions that ensure effective communication and collaboration no matter where your employees are working. 

Create a solid return to office plan

Making a smooth transition back to an office where some people may be on site every day and others some of the time or not at all, requires a strong video and audio communications strategy. Success depends on understanding how employees work, how meeting spaces must change, and how much stakeholders buy in to the new reality.

Planning FAQs

Start by measuring your organization’s headcount and understanding who will return to the office full time and who will be hybrid or staying remote.  This will help you set a baseline for inventory needs and assess the total cost of ownership of your devices and services portfolio.

To choose the right video and audio devices for individuals, consider employee workstyles and workspaces. Is the space open or private, shared or dedicated? Is the workstyle highly collaborative or individual? Is the employee a participant or leader in many meetings throughout the day? Are meetings in person, virtual, or both? What equipment do they use? In the office some may be connected to a PC and desk phone, and others may use mobile phones, hands-free corded or cordless headsets, or huddle room speakerphones. For individual devices like headsets, that an employee may use for hours every day, comfort should be considered. And those who often work remotely may need to replicate their office setup at home.

 

Poly Best Practice: Understand how your employees work.

For nearly 10 years Poly has been studying the evolving ways that people work.  There are six distinct workstyles that make up 92% of a typical enterprise. 

Start with the floorplans of meeting spaces, remembering that they may need to be reconfigured to meet your new needs. Leave extra space so in-room participants can choose to social distance. Also account for those who will join meetings remotely. It’s essential that every participant can see and be seen, and hear and be heard, as clearly as if they are in the room. 

 

Poly Best Practice: Evaluate your video conferencing options.

Evaluate your options for in-room video conferencing technology. Learn the six key areas that are critical for the new hybrid workforce.

When you have a list of video and audio solutions for your workstyles and meeting rooms, run a pilot. This helps confirm your choices and can identify things missed in your planning. It also lets you show key decision-makers (test users, IT and network security, training staff, finance, and operations) how the solutions work and overcome any concerns.

The alternative to standardization in outfitting employees with virtual meeting and collaboration equipment is allowing employees to freely choose any audio and video device. But this approach makes it difficult to track, monitor, and maintain equipment and to ensure consistent communication quality. It often results in sub-par communications that frustrate employees and are bad for business. In contrast, offering employees a standardized list of pre-approved products simplifies IT oversight, ensures clear and effective communications, and makes it easier for employees to identify an appropriate solution. 

With hybrid work, employees are more spread out than ever, which increases the importance of having a centralized way to monitor and measure device usage, adoption, and performance. and easily onboard new devices. The ability to remotely inventory audio and video equipment across locations, perform bulk updates, and troubleshoot performance issues reduces the burden on your IT team. It can also give you a window into your collaboration environments, helping you understand device and workspace usage, and providing context for employee surveys to identify opportunities for improvement.

 

Poly Best Practice: Consider using management software.

Management software provide visibility into product health, status, and maintenance. A solution like Poly Lens can enable remote provisioning, monitoring, and troubleshooting from a single pane of glass. 

Planning Checklist

  • Full-time office worker
  • Hybrid worker (time split between in-office and remote work each week)
  • Full-time remote worker (may come to the office for important meetings a couple times a year) 
  • Use a tool like the Poly Persona Survey to understand what percentage of each workstyle you have in your organization. This will make choosing the appropriate audio and video devices straightforward.
  • Consider key features by workstyle and locations, such as noise-cancelling technology for on-premises employees in an open space floorplan.
  • Evaluate comfort for individual devices, especially when employees may be wearing them all day.

Use a tool like the Poly Space Configurator or an interactive floorplan to help you clarify what’s needed to achieve the results you want. 

  • Establish your success metrics. You can do this alone or with the help of a free 20-minute RTO consultation from Poly.
  • Work with champions in your organization to develop a feedback collection process that keeps you informed of user attitudes and concerns and identifies room for improvement.
  • To get the most value from your communications and collaboration investment, explore all the support your vendor provides before and after purchase.
  • Take advantage of any available free services, like Poly’s RTO consultation, to fine-tune your plan before you put in in action.
  • Learn the tools and software, like Poly Lens, that can ease deployment and long-term device management.
  • Look for critical support offerings such as the unlimited global 24x7 technical support, advance hardware replacement, and ecosystem cloud partner support of Poly+.

Put your plan in action

First impressions are everything, so you want to ensure your deployment goes well. Success depends on communicating clearly with end users and stakeholders, organizing your rollout before beginning work, and ensuring employees have the support they need to effectively use their new audio and video devices right away.

Deployment FAQs

Regular communication is key. Focus on timelines and expectations and increase frequency as the RTO date approaches. Tell users what's happening, when it's happening, what's expected of them, and the training and support they’ll receive. Use a mix of methods to share RTO plans: Emails, newsletters, global all-hands, executive videos. Also create a spot on the intranet where employees can check for the latest updates for their location.

Categorize the products by workspaces and use this to divide and organize deployment, depending on the specific needs of the space. Also consider the differing logistics for work locations such as hoteling spaces and large conference areas, according to your floorplan.

This depends on the solution being installed and the technical comfort of your employees. We suggest having IT support handle installations of devices and services to ensure proper setup of software and settings for all in office workspaces, including individual workspaces, and conference rooms.

 

Poly Best Practice: Remember that you don’t have to go it alone.

It may be that you don’t have the IT resources to take on an organization-wide rollout.  Vendors can offer help, like the Poly Services Team or a certified partner to handle deployment.

As a best practice, your plan should include a central management software that will enable you to monitor the health, usage, and maintenance of all your audio and video solutions and apply device policies from anywhere in your network. 

Make sure your remote workers can link to or easily access the how-to guides for their new equipment. In meeting rooms, have detailed instructions about how to use the new equipment. Provide individual employees with access to online and offline manuals and training assets.  Also consider including a card with phone numbers and email addresses that in-office and remote employees can use for technical assistance.

 

Poly Best Practice: Ensure employees have easy access to training assets for their audio and video solutions.

Make product instructions available onsite and online. You can use QR codes to point to helpful supplier video assets, such as Poly product and instructional videos.

Creating a platform that makes it easy for users to book hoteling and conference spaces will aid in a smooth transition to the office. Consider the setup time for an end user to efficiently sign on and work in their workspaces.

Deployment Checklist

If employees feel included, they are more likely to adopt the new devices and have positive morale around the change.

  • Establish when employees plan to return onsite for regular operations.
  • Determine how you will handle the timelines of installations and spaces being refreshed.
  • Identify when products will be received onsite.
  • Confirm how you will distribute devices to hybrid workers and remote employees.
  • Consider using management software like Poly Lens to remotely provision new equipment and monitor it throughout its lifetime.
  • Consider using a service like Poly+ to assist with device support.
  • Share the available resources with end users. Ensure they can easily access or link to how-to and other user guides.
  • Prepare printed quick start guides for shared devices in every meeting room.
  • Train and prepare the support staff and help desk for a spike in service requests.
  • Choose a solution that makes it easy for employees to book a workspace or conference room through their computer or mobile phone.
  • Depending on the size of your office, it should also help them find the space or room they book, as well as where colleagues are sitting.
  • Ensure employees can see before they book whether the space meets their requirements, i.e., the audio and video setup in a conference room.
  • Look for a solution that integrates with your existing software to, for example, send confirmation emails or sync organizer and attendee calendars.

Ensure employees are happy and feel productive

Now that your new solutions are deployed, how do you ensure employees adopt them into their daily work? This is critical for validating the company’s investment and improving business results.  Success depends on ensuring employees succeed the first time they use any device, giving them an easy place to contact if they don’t, and understanding that adoption is an ongoing process.

Adoption FAQs

After confirming that all devices are set up and working properly, let users know what’s available in their workspace, whether it’s dedicated, a shared space like a hoteling spot, or their home, and provide them with instructions.  For shared video and audio devices in conference rooms and other spaces, provide clear instructions. If users have issues with the solutions, consider setting up training workshops for them.

 

Poly Best Practice: Simplify adoption management with software and services.

Count on the services your vendor offers, whether it’s consulting with your representative, a program like Poly+, or management software like Poly Lens, to provide insight into adoption and help you take action to increase it.

Highlight and promote user successes, which encourages colleagues to try the new solutions.  Create a fun internal corporate video showing how your new devices simplify collaboration and improve productivity. Because reluctance to adopt is often based on fear of the unknown, invite a mix of fast and slow adopters to a focus group and have them discuss their experiences.  Ask your champions to work with corporate communications to share their story and communicate success stories to upper management. 

This is not a linear journey. To ensure that your organization is prepared for any changes to the work environment, create an ongoing process for reevaluating the program, identifying opportunities for improvement, and using these insights as you plan your next cycle.

 

Poly Best Practice: Work with your vendor to review your RTO process.

RTO programs aren’t one and done. Technology advances and new solutions become available. Rely on your vendor, like Poly, to ensure your audio and video communications solutions are always up-to-date and you’re getting the most from your investment.

Adoption Checklist

  • Ensure the workspaces are prepared for staff to return to work.
  • Review the usage of spaces and devices.
  • Verify that all instructions for spaces and devices are available to all staff, remote or onsite.
  • Provide information about who to contact if end users need assistance with set up, usage, or troubleshooting.
  • Address user concerns and communicate how and when changes will be made.
  • Plan to have an inventory of individual audio and video devices on hand for employees who need to swap for a different or more comfortable device.
  • Consider verifying usage of personal devices and meeting room devices by leveraging Poly Lens.
  • Identify trends in usage of devices. This can highlight the need for training or reconfiguring spaces.  

Suggested survey questions:

  • Are they productive?
  • Is communication going well?
  • Are they happy with the devices they are using?
  • Are they using meeting rooms?
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Interview new users.
  • Set up feedback lines of communication.
  • Record the level and quality of usage that is taking place.
  • Address user anxiety.
  • Collect the feedback from end users and integrate it into your continuous improvement process for the RTO program.
  • Consider bolstering your continuous improvement process with the insights from a comprehensive management program like Poly Lens.
  • Share details of how end users can get the most out of the audio and video devices and virtual collaboration platform your company uses.
  • Keep them short to maintain the most employee interest.
  • Record these sessions and place them in a central location so people can easily find them later.

Resources

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