All this talk about “hybrid” spaces — what most people now coin as the future of the workplace — has got us at SYNNEX COLLABSolv thinking. Has the AV/IT industry taken a step back to define, and truly understand, what hybrid working means and how it affects the end user in our technology deployments?

Consider this a cover letter, a predecessor to a 101 guide even, to hybrid working. After covering the must-knows, we’ll get off our soapbox and share some helpful resources on how you can better navigate “hybrid” yourself and learn what a successful deployment looks like.

First, it’s helpful to distinguish between some of the recent, common terminology that’s being used.

Hybrid vs. HyFlex

In a nutshell, hybrid refers to an environment that accommodates both in-person working/learning and remote working/learning. Of course, pulling it off is easier said than done. An effective hybrid workplace or classroom goes beyond adding a webcam and a soft codec platform (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex) to your space.

HyFlex, a portmanteau for “hybrid flexible,” differs from “hybrid” in that it refers to spaces (often classrooms) in which people (often students) are given a choice in how and where they work or learn. Columbia University puts it nicely: “Hybrid learning refers to learning that integrates complementary face-to-face (synchronous) and online learning (asynchronous) experiences in service of intended learning objectives. … All students in a hybrid course are expected to undergo the same combination of online and in-person activities.

In contrast, the ‘flexible’ aspect of HyFlex is that students are given choice in how they participate in the course and engage with material in the mode that works best for them over the course and from session to session.”

What Does Hybrid Do?

Hybrid spaces create more equality between in-person and virtual workers, bridging the gaps that arise from dispersed teams who work from different locales. To maximize the effectiveness of remote collaboration, with employees not always physically together, it helps to be aware of the common gaps in innovation and collaboration. How can AV/IT better solve for these gaps by adding technology mindfully, and with purpose?

Historically, WFH (working from home) got a bad rap. Now, WFA (working from anywhere) will become the norm, a more commonly used term to describe the way in which people want to work. WFH and WFA will be fueled by hybrid technology that enables people to work from any space that offers Wi-Fi. A recent Stanford study pointed out, “the sooner policymakers and business leaders think of the implications of a home-based workforce, the better our firms and communities will be positioned when the pandemic subsides.”

As SYNNEX wrote in “Collaboration: Work That Will Win In 2021,” WFA workers will seek technology solutions that will allow them to take work anywhere, including the home office, the corporate office, and on the road. This means we’ll likely see more personal devices — like new-generation webcams, headsets, speakerphones, and other peripherals — that aid in hybrid collaboration. Headsets with noise-cancelling technology from vendors like Bose, Poly, and Sennheiser, for instance, can help your customers eliminate distracting background noise while participating in videoconferences.

Where Will Hybrid Play Out?

Another way to understand “hybrid” is to explore it by vertical. Here are some helpful resources that show where hybrid solutions are already gaining traction in the market. 

As we’ve been reminded lately, hybrid is tough. But it’s, no doubt, here to stay.

During SYNNEX COLLABSolv Hybrid Connections Day — which featured SYNNEX partners Ribbon Communications, Lenovo and more — we heard a few leading perspectives. Greg Zweig, director of solutions marketing at Ribbon, said that a hybrid environment gives partners an opportunity to go in and have new conversations, as customers are looking for new technology that helps them connect. “We’ve seen a big migration from traditional hardware, or even virtualized [hardware], to the solutions that you can run in the public cloud,” Zweig said. 

To better navigate the new hybrid world, bring on a partner who is deeply committed to understanding the nuances of hybrid spaces — a partner who can help AV/IT and its customers connect. SYNNEX COLLABSolv unites the industry’s top AV, IT, CE, Cloud, Mobile, and Network Security technologies essential to building integrated solutions. Interested in partnering with SYNNEX to make your complex voice, cloud, and video projects simple, cohesive, and lucrative? Just reach out to us!