When COVID-19 hit at the end of 2019, few could have predicted its ability to halt an entire planet in its tracks. An entire world population locked away, isolating in their own homes. Many industries were affected by the pandemic, in particular the events sector, and business leaders had to look at new and innovative ways to connect with staff, customers and audiences in a virtual format - a feat never attempted at scale before by the majority.

UC EXPO, the most extensive UC&C event in Europe, was one of millions of events that was unable to take place in a physical format in May 2020. When the realisation was made that physical events wouldn’t be an option for some time, UCX: NOW - the virtual sibling of UC EXPO - was born. What an event it turned out to be.

UCX: NOW best bits

Despite not having access to our usual event space, nor being able to meet and network in person, it was fantastic to see how much of a success UCX: NOW 2020 truly was. We were joined by a host of outstanding speakers from major companies including Microsoft, Google, Cisco and 8x8. Different to past years, we also had an extensive line up of end users talking about their experiences from Rolls Royce and The Salvation Army to British Heart Foundation and TSB Bank.

One of the key focuses of UCX: NOW was the future of the office, discussing what a workplace of the future (post-pandemic) might look like. Led by Dave Michels from TalkingPointz, the session with Rolls-Royce, 8x8, and The Salvation Army saw the second highest attendance of the event, clearly showing how much of an important and critical discussion the future of the office is.

Future-gazing was a key focus for UCX: NOW, and we found that audiences were responding best to talks that looked at what the future of work might look like. The unpredictable events of 2020 have made it incredibly challenging to predict what’s around the bend. That said, Dr Christof Mascher, the COO of Allianz, along with Aruna Ravichandran from Cisco, shared their thoughts on what has worked during the pandemic pivot and why, along with ideas for future business strategies. Audiences interacted incredibly well with this session, getting a feel for what experts think will be the ‘next big step’ for the future of work, and how leaders can best prepare for any eventuality.

Throughout the event, the need to design a unique user experience was regularly explored, as this will be the greatest challenge to come; ensuring employees will be productive and supported as remote workers in the future.

The future of UC&C

Predicting the future of anything is a challenge right now. Where something may look cut-and-dried one day, things can change the next and you’re staring down the barrel of a totally different gun! However, there are some keen insights that we can draw from the themes of UCX: NOW and the expert talks, specifically upon the future of the workplace. The main point to consider is that the modern office won’t ever be the same again for many of us. In fact, experts have predicted that it is likely that employee deskspace in offices will reduce dramatically - perhaps by 50% of more.

It should be expected that regular 9-5 days in the office will be replaced by a more ‘hybrid-working’ model, split between offices, shared working spaces, and the home. Business leaders who were hesitant about adopting a working-from-home policy were then forced to implement one during lockdown, and many have recognised that productivity either hasn’t been affected by working-from-home, or has perhaps even increased!

What we can say for certain is that UCX: NOW has proved that people are keen to understand what the professional future will hold, and that communication and collaboration will take many new forms as we say goodbye to the familiarity of our office walls.

What’s next for UC EXPO?

Whilst we’ve had great success going virtual this year, there really is nothing like welcoming the industry back through the doors of a physical event - we certainly miss this! UC EXPO 2021 is planned as a joint event with DTX, and will take place 6th - 7th October at the ExCeL Exhibition Centre, London. But that’s not all. We’ve also got some exciting things planned throughout the year ahead and will be revealing more in the coming months. Join the UCX Community today and stay right up to date with all things UC EXPO.

If you’re interested in giving your feedback on the future of the UC sector, then please take a look at our final Market Insights Survey of the year, where you can give us your thoughts on what’s next for UC&C, the workforce and events. See you all in 2021!