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Hybrid Environments: The Next Normal

As the business and education markets continue to transition, the combination of collaborative technology and safe spaces leads the way forward.



As many businesses and schools across the world tentatively reopen their doors, integrators are uniquely positioned to offer the right collaborative tools and safe space solutions for now and the future.


COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of life—and its bearing on the worlds of business and academia is no exception. It has forced schools and companies to see the benefits of remote and hybrid models. Even further, it has triggered a monumental shift in thinking, presenting business professionals and educators with the chance to reinvent their workspaces and classrooms.


For integrators this translates into an incredible opportunity to deliver the right mix of products and services to businesses and educational facilities who are now managing in-person and online employees and students simultaneously.


With the AV market on track to rebound, there’s no better time for integrators to solidify their fourth-quarter plans and position themselves as strategic solution providers for 2021 and beyond.


According to the COVID-19 edition of AVIXA’s Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis released this summer, the total Americas AV market was $93 billion in 2019. While the market is expected to be down 8 percent in 2020 due to the pandemic, AVIXA forecasts a full recovery by 2022 and a total market of $108 billion by 2025.


A Changing Landscape


The landscape for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021 is expected to be a mix of remote, in-person, and hybrid connectivity—not only in the education and corporate spaces, but in retail, restaurants, airports and hotels. Even in a post-pandemic scenario, the hybrid model is likely to continue and perhaps become permanent.



In education, an area long ready for major change enabled by digital technologies, there are new models for learning, teaching, and space planning from K-12 through higher education. Traditional classrooms are evolving into spaces that require hybrid and flexible systems for blended lesson learning. For example, a classroom might need digital screens to allow in-class students to see their peers working at home. Multi-camera solutions, microphones, and sound systems can also add to improved communication, participation, and a successful classroom experience for all.


The workplace, too, is undergoing a unique transformation. As some employees may choose to return to the office while others continue to be remote, customers must be ready to provide flexible, scalable, and seamless collaboration. Offices are being further reconfigured with a need for touchless environments like wall-mounted displays that serve as virtual whiteboards.



But perhaps most crucial is the need to create safe spaces. This ranges from entry points (with non-contact temperature screening kiosks and hand sanitizing stations) to occupancy and social distancing management (traffic flow and people counting) to automated lockers and contactless pick-up and delivery. Digital signage can communicate updates on data ranging from traffic patterns to meeting space information and daily messaging. And workplaces, just like educational facilities, will be retooled with HVAC design, airflow, and sensors to alert building managers of issues.


Curated Solutions For Customers


The implications of choosing one option over another can be overwhelming for customers. And now more than ever, it is about strategizing with customers to determine their short and long-term objectives and then guiding them to make the best selections possible.


Those integrators who provide continued guidance and options to customers—who are likely in varying degrees of digital transformation—stand to benefit. With the array of tech tools available today, businesses and academic institutions must be prepared to collaborate at the highest levels to survive.


As hybrid teaching/learning and hybrid workstyles are proving successful and beneficial, it’s clear that we are embracing the next normal. Seamless collaboration and enhanced safety will drive the evolution now and into the year ahead. Looking further into the future, top companies and schools will not be content with “continuity”—they will need to leverage new generation AV and collaboration tools to empower their students, staff, and workers to constantly evolve, learn, improve, and achieve in safe spaces.