There’s a surprising amount of serendipity about attending events in-person, rather than virtually. As I was walking down the hallway to attend a Hybrid Work Conference session on October 5, I literally bumped into Robin’s Brendan O’Neil, Director of Partnerships.
After chatting amiably with Brendan for a few moments, I asked him if he had any content ideas for me (yes, I’m always on the lookout for content ideas). He suggested I talk to David Morris of Logitech, who was standing farther down the hallway, about Logitech’s new meeting room camera (Rally Bar) feature called RightSight 2.
As you probably know, Robin partners with providers like Logitech, Owl Labs, Embrava, and many more to help our customers enhance their workplace experience. These partnerships are a crucial part of building bold solutions for hybrid work.
Morris is Senior Manager, Strategic Alliances, at Logitech, a company that builds hardware solutions for hybrid work. I walked over to David, told him that Brendan sent me, and we started chatting about how RightSight 2 advances inclusion and equity for hybrid meetings. This is what I learned.
The Challenge of Equity and Inclusion in Hybrid Meetings
After some brief introductions, I asked Morris “what’s the use case here, what problem does RightSight 2 seek to solve for?” A fifteen-minute discussion ensued, which I’ve excerpted below:
“In the early days of the pandemic, when everyone was working from home,” Morris told me, “meetings were like Hollywood Squares, with every participant having the exact same view.” When people started going back into the office, however, “the view on the screen changed for people participating remotely.
All the in-office participants were in that one view packed together at a conference room table and the remote participants couldn’t see them very well.” The view of the remote participants, on the other hand, remained like Hollywood Squares.
While enabling technologies have helped make hybrid work more inclusive and equitable for people, “meeting equity” has remained challenging because remote meeting participants literally lack “an equal seat at the (meeting) table.”
Remote participants might not have as clear a view of what’s going on in the meeting, including access to body language and facial expressions that can communicate significant meaning. When remote participants can’t clearly see what’s happening in the room, including facial expressions and non-verbal cues, meeting inequities are the result.
Meeting Inequities: Impacting Communication & Experience
When there are multiple views of a hybrid meeting, “you have a problem of meeting equity that impacts communication quality and the experience of the meeting,” Morris explained. “In-office participants might be having a nice meeting experience in the room, while the remote participants might be distracted because they can’t see everything that’s going on, verbally and non-verbally.” That’s neither inclusive nor equitable.
“No matter where somebody is, or how they choose to participate in a hybrid meeting, the meeting should be fully inclusive. For organizations, that means leveraging technology, meeting rooms, and meeting practices to ensure that whatever experience people are having in the room, they can have remotely too,” Morris says.
What’s at stake here, I ask Morris. “It goes beyond just hybrid meetings,” he says, “and impacts employee productivity, employee happiness, culture, and more. It shouldn't be that employees are forced to choose between coming into the office or working from home because the meeting experience is different.”
The Technology Solution: RightSight 2
RightSight 2 uses an AI camera built into both the Rally Bar and Rally Bar Mini products, giving remote meeting participants a panoramic view of the entire meeting room at the bottom of their screen. “Whenever someone is actively speaking,” says Morris, “RightSight 2 will auto-frame them, so you see the speaker the same as everyone in the room does.”
Morris says that Logitech is planning to add even more features to the solution with the introduction of Logitech Sight:
“We're now trying to take the idea to the next level where AI can find everybody in the room and have a unique video stream for every participant.” Since viewing a whiteboard is also important for meeting participation, “we also came out with a whiteboard camera so remote participants can see the whiteboard just like everybody else in the room. In fact, they may actually see it better because we ghost-out whoever is writing on the board so they don’t physically block your view.”
In the end, all of these technological features advance inclusion and equity for hybrid meetings, an important enabler of hybrid work in general. With my final question asked and answered, I shake Morris’s hand, thank him for the edifying conversation, and walk back down the hallways to where the next HybridWork Conference session was about to start.
Collaborating on the Future of Work
When companies like Robin & Logitech come together we can really start to see what the future of the office looks like. Seamlessly coordinating with coworkers, booking desks, and leading hybrid meetings is just the start.