Workplace communications has been one of the most active vertical markets in digital signage for the last few years – with screens filling the gap created by unopened emails, unused intranets and the end of things like employee mail slots, physical inboxes and pay envelopes.
But the new reality, or at least the reality for at least a few weeks or even months, is that a lot of office campuses are empty or minimally staffed, and most people are working at home out of necessity.
So the budget that might have been allocated to upgrading a workplace to digital displays may instead go to tech that enables video conferencing and remote collaboration.
Displays that allow shared meeting collaboration – the idea that multiple people can use and touch a digital whiteboard at once – are also not going to be at the top of any lists.
Certainly, there are lots of workplaces that will re-populate when the virus spread slows and is at least somewhat contained. When offices do get re-staffed, the screens that are in place will be relentlessly amplifying the wash-your-hands, don’t-touch-your-face messaging.
And certainly, there are endless places – like production facilities – where remote work is not possible, and effective messaging is needed for everything from safety and health to visualizing KPIs.
Workplace communications using digital signage is as relevant as it was before COVID-19 showed up, but its place on the tech priority list may have slipped, at least for now. If you have a finite tech budget, you need to direct funds where they make the most sense, and for workplaces that know remote work is going to be more prevalent, that’s where it is probably going.
We’re also seeing a huge experiment being forced on executives who may have steadily resisted having staff work remotely. In some cases, they’re going to learn what they insisted would never work, actually can work, and they’ll realize they can save a lot of money reducing leased office space.
Workplace comms as a digital signage opportunity is not going away, but like many things, it has changed.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.