The FQ @CES 2022: Keeping a Connected Workplace Environment Alive

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Here we are, coming to the end of year two living and working under coronavirus circumstances. What lessons and takeaways are media companies generating through using Zoom and other technologies to keep their employees connected and creative, whether their workspace is inside an office cubicle or at home? Five media company executives offered their lessons and takeaways during one of this week's CES 2022 virtual panel sessions organized by The Female Quotient.

The overall consensus: Zoom and a variety of other technologies from smartphones to online chatrooms were vital to maintaining employee productivity, while building relationships and a more equitable work environment.

"What the pandemic showed us is that audio is part of everyone's workspace, no matter where they are," replied Sarah Foss, Chief Information Officer atAudacy, one of the leading U.S. audio content distributors. Through smartphone-driven conference calls on a regular basis, "we started forgiving ourselves" when circumstances went awry, she added. "It led to better, effective communications. We didn't have to stare at each other."

When asked by moderator Rainbow Kirby, the FQ's Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, why technology was so critical to staying a coronavirus-impacted course with work, Jen Whelan, Yahoo!'s Vice President and Head of Business-To-Business Marketing, replied, "What we've learned is that what worked a quarter ago, or a year ago, needs to evolve. You need to constantly innovate -- with awesome humans."

"Tech meant I can spend more time on connection and creativity," said Francie Jain, Terawatt's Chief Executive Officer. With Zoom, "you have a way to reach people who don't have as much time and freedom," she added. What's more, "it takes away the ability to make mistakes."

In Kristi Lamar's opinion, this pandemic "was the biggest experiment (in technology integration for business) an organization never wanted to make." Nevertheless, for Lamar, Deloitte's Managing Director, Zoom led to a more inclusive environment" for her company's workforce, regardless of where employees originated their activity. "It gave us a lot more grace, a lot more space and a lot more empathy," she said.

"Anyone, anywhere has an equal seat at the table," added Nola Weinstein, Global Head of Brand Experience and Engagement at Twitter. "You can give people freedom to be okay."

As a growing consensus of medical authorities believe the coronavirus pandemic will transform into an endemic before 2022 ends, Audacy is launching more online resources and operational support to employees to elevate their tech prowess, whether they return to the office or continue to work at home. "We want (to address) the gaps of tech implementation," Audacy's Foss explained.

Constant experimentation with new tech practices will be important for companies from this point on, Lamar suggested. "We have to be willing to try and do it," she said. "It's not that scary anymore."

Another important takeaway from Whelan: Keep implementing technology that maintains and expands relationships between employee and employee departments. "Ask the right questions from the right people -- as diverse a group as you can get," she said. "Give people a chance to speak up and give you amazing ideas you would never get before."

What else? "Be brave … be brave," Foss concluded. "We're all figuring this out together, and that means diving off the deep end."

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