Writing in the Herald on Wednesday, December 15, director of Speak With Impact Gavin Brown discusses the "hybrid" future facing Scottish businesses, and how best to embrace it. Full text beneath.

By Gavin Brown, director of Speak With Impact

If the frantically changing landscape of the last week has taught us anything, it’s that we’re going to have to be ready for abrupt change and disruption for some time to come.

It’s also increasingly clear that when things do eventually settle, many of the workplace changes brought about by Covid will be here to stay.

In business as well as everyday life, we’re almost certainly looking at a hybrid future.

This is backed up by the latest Scottish Government Business Insight and Conditions Survey, which shows half of all large businesses in Scotland will adopt partial homeworking as a permanent business model.

This means we need to prepare for hybrid communication and meetings in the future – most key events are going to have a digital twin.

We have probably seen more of our homes than those of our close friends and families in the past two years. Everyone now knows what it’s like ‘to be on TV,’ but there’s plenty more to do if this new practice is to be properly embraced.

During the survival mode of the pandemic people accepted technical hitches but that will change. Everyone from the businesses pitching to major clients, to the office worker tuning in for daily virtual meetings is going to have to up their game. Excuses such as “sorry I was on mute” will wear increasingly thin.

Scotland’s business community needs to be alert to these changes too, as there will be opportunities.

Hybrid presentations – where there could be 50 people in the room and a further 250 tuning in digitally – are the future.

Anyone who’s delivered such a presentation knows just how challenging that can be – it’s a completely different skill to addressing a room full of people, or indeed conducting a digital-only webinar.

For example, when I prepare people for these hybrid presentations, we go through a matrix of over 50 questions relating to who they’re speaking to, where those people will be, and what points they want to get across.

People will need to be trained correctly for this, and companies will need to invest in the right technology and equipment.

Companies could beef up their technical capabilities now to deliver world-class hybrid events going forward.

If Scotland gets this right, we could be at the forefront of this revolution when the time comes.

Hybrid communication presents a real opportunity for companies that embrace it.

In pre-Covid times a presentation by a firm may have attracted a few dozen delegates, many of whom would have sacrificed half a day or their entire evening to attend.

During lockdown that same presentation could have attracted greater numbers from a far wider pool of people but there would be minimal networking and no 1-2-1 deeper conversations.

With a hybrid event you can have both.

Ultimately, no-one can predict accurately what the economy will look like once the dust settles on Covid.

But if we are to be using hybrid meetings and conferences indefinitely, it’s vitally important we get it right.

Getting ahead of the game when it comes to a digital future will serve Scotland, its businesses and its people extremely well whatever happens.