From our Manufacturing.Support session 10 February 2022 

The diversity of the group sometimes means that topics of conversation move around, and this week was certainly one of those dynamic discussions! 
 

Presentations – an out of body experience? 

The group raised the long-standing subject of being physically present vs online meetings, and in this case relating to award ceremonies. 
 
In the past, every award ceremony was accompanied by a formal dinner, speeches, being all dressed up and a huge bar bill! But since online meetings developed popularity and necessity during the pandemic, the logistics of an in-person event are outweighed by the benefits of doing it online. 
 
However, how can you capture the same atmosphere and celebrate when everyone is stuck in front of a camera and screen? 
 
With a bit of lateral thinking it is becoming a more acceptable approach. 
 
You can have all of the nominees in the “room” at the same time 
Rather than having a stage and the winners tracking their way through a congested floor (tripping over baggage and ankles on the journey) the award can be presented in a short time with few mishaps 
Overseas nominees can still be virtually present on a par with everyone else 
No excessive or unforeseen costs 
You can invite the whole team, rather than select a couple of representatives 
 
That being said, the atmosphere can be a little sterile, so some attendees choose to make this a local celebration and perhaps holding it in a restaurant or bar, so as a team they can celebrate their success or drown their sorrows. 

Veering off with VR 

To take this one step further, VR is becoming more mainstream as an online meeting option, and some say that it provides a far better experience than the matrix of live images on your screen. One big advantage is that the user can use head movement to direct what they are looking at in a more natural way. This is great for simulated environments, but holding a conversation with a digitally-generated avatar can be unnerving, and you still might not recognise them if you happen to bump into the real person. 
 
The big value for VR is to enable you to move around the virtual environment as if you were physically there, which enables a visual experience of that “world”. However, moving around physically when engaged with a VR environment does require you to make sure your real environment is safe. Don’t want you to fall down any stairs or trip over anything on the floor! 

Trips and Falls 

Talking about tripping led to a reveal from the HSE that 33% of reportable accidents involving slips trips and falls are on the same level! This must mean that there is a huge number of people working or living in places where the floor is unclean, damaged, untidy or that they just don’t look where they’re going. Hopefully not too many were wearing VR headsets! 

Technology in Travel 

Still on the subject of trips, but this time travelling ones. 
 
We have come to rely on technology to guide us on our travelling journeys, not least motoring with the use of satellite navigation systems and software. It was observed that many people struggle to be aware of their current physical location because the relationship with their surroundings is overridden by technology telling us what is the right thing to do. 
 
However technology requires good quality input to give the best output. We’ve all been in situations where we know the best route to travel, but the SatNag tells us otherwise – and continues to do so until either it recalculates or you meet that blockage that it was trying to avoid. Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a “gloat” function built in, but I’m sure that’s in development! 
 
But technology on the roads isn’t restricted to navigation. Smart motorways provide live speed limit information about what speed is best to keep the traffic moving. Whilst this is great in theory, since the posted speed limit on the signs rarely drops below 40mph, it can be irritating when you’re stuck in a stationary queue knowing that with a tweak to the algorithm, it might have been possible to keep those wheels rolling! 

Home, Head Office or Hybrid? 

The pandemic showed beyond doubt that it was possible for many people based in offices to be able to work from home, if necessary. 
 
Figures have been published by HSE in December 2021 for workplace injury and illness for the year. 
There are startling figures showing that stress, anxiety and depression contributed very significantly to the figure in this period. This period also coincides with the prevalence of remote working. 
 
Given that many organisations are now looking at the option to normalise remote working as part of a working model, the impact of this would need to be examined closely to ensure that the health and wellbeing of employees is kept as high as possible. 
Whilst hosting working employees in an office, the employer is able to manage the conditions to ensure that the employee can carry out their work safely and comfortable and that regulations are met. However, once the employees are working from their home environment, how does the employer ensure that the kitchen stool provides the right level of support, and the level of lighting is appropriate? And how do they check that everything is in place, without invasion of privacy? 
 
It'll need some thought! 
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