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What are the key questions to ask when designing or refitting hybrid workspaces and MTRs?

Hint: it’s not which technology or which brand!

What are the key questions to ask when designing or refitting hybrid workspaces and MTRs?

The one thing that distinguishes between the AV and IT professions is that AV’s skillsets are predicated on turning technology into good user experiences, delivering technologies into the tactile and visual 3D room space. The apps and the technologies go to waste if not properly designed and deployed.

Yet end users report disappointment. They can see exciting new designs being ideated and installed at Microsoft’s Hive R&D facility, yet feel a disconnect, a barrier to having such spaces themselves. In some cases, it’s driven by a historic assumption or belief between buyer and vendor that whatever the question is, the answer has to be expressed in a tech BOM (bill of materials).

Microsoft’s MTR and Front Row examples are not ‘systems of tomorrow’, they are systems of today - and we are supporting clients in designing and installing them right now. But the point is less about identifying which tech and vendors can be seen in these videos and images - and more about the UX processes that led Microsoft to these designs.

The significance of the spaces at The Hive is not that they represent potential cookie-cutter BOMs to be replicated and rolled out, but more that they provide guidance - and yet ask leading questions of users: how can I make this work for my organisation, our workflows, our culture? I see them as a form of a palimpsest, a foundation from which to develop and versionise for hybrid workspaces of all sizes.

The missing link in the chain is usually a pre-technology, ‘tech prep’ phase. Paradoxically, this does have to be completely tech literate and savvy, but nevertheless, there’s an essential structured phase of evaluation and space design that’s needed to ensure good space design, good user experiences and responsible budget deployment.

In my consulting practice, my experience is that it’s not just these processes that are of value, but that they are provided by an independent and empathetic third party who helps the combined stakeholders to positive outcomes.

Posted: 8th August 2022

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