Short on time? Read the key takeaways:
- Video conferencing accessibility has become essential as businesses shift to remote and hybrid work.
- Investing in high-quality video conferencing infrastructure and training programs can increase productivity, a more inclusive workplace culture, higher employee satisfaction, and an enhanced end-user experience.
- The rise of cloud-based video conferencing platforms has made video conferencing more accessible and affordable for companies of all sizes.
- Organizations should take steps—such as deploying video conferencing tools—to develop an effective modern workplace that delivers functionality parity to promote a collaborative workforce.
As more enterprises have embraced hybrid and remote work, the benefits of greater freedom and flexibility have become increasingly apparent.
Not only does working from the comfort of one’s home eliminate the time and stress of commuting, but flexible working has also empowered employees to balance their professional and personal lives. For example, caregivers can tend to children or elderly family members without sacrificing their careers, contributing to overall health and well-being—not to mention corporate sustainability goals.
However, to unlock the true potential of hybrid working, companies must equip their employees with the right tools to enable effective collaboration. Video conferencing has become the new benchmark for IT infrastructure; workers now view it as an indispensable tool integral to accomplishing their daily tasks. Let’s dive into the evolution of this critical workplace technology.
From science fiction to reality
Although it’s difficult to imagine a workplace that does not use video conferencing tools, it remains in living memory when they did not exist or were a luxury that only large corporations could afford, concentrated in onsite offices. The technology first appeared in popular culture as early as 1880 and was subsequently reflected in the texts of Jules Verne. Later, the first real depictions of the mainstream futurist were shown on shows such as The Jetsons and Captain Scarlet and in 1960s feature films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey. More recently, video conferencing has evolved to serve as a communication tool and a versatile workforce management platform, famously seen in Back to the Future Part II when the main protagonist is let go from his employer via video link. Today, of course, the versatility of a secure and robust solution is now integrated into everyday business life. Nearly all of us use video conferencing in our jobs, whether working at a desk or in the field, always on the move.
During the first implementations, offices may have had only a few dedicated meeting rooms with disparate hardware from multiple vendors to support video conferencing with external stakeholders. However, with the development of cloud-based video conferencing platforms and those aimed at the consumer market, this mode of communication has become more accessible and affordable for companies of all sizes. One’s physical location no longer limits access to technology tools, as the “workplace” is now wherever the employee is.
Video conferencing experience parity
Science fiction has become science fact, with video conferencing serving as a benchmark for measuring the strength of a company’s IT infrastructure. In this era of hybrid and remote work, IT departments strive to deliver parity in functionality to promote a cohesive and frictionless enterprise collaboration experience. Remote workers’ video conferencing experiences should be equal—or very close to—those of in-office colleagues. Similarly, employees in dedicated onsite meeting rooms should be able to easily engage with their remote co-workers, unhindered by the lack of physical presence.
Poor audio and video quality, dropped calls and technical glitches can hinder productivity and create workforce frustration. But how organizations respond to and mitigate these issues can directly correlate with workforce adoption of newly deployed video conferencing technologies. Beyond preventing and resolving any technical issues that emerge when rolling out a new tool, successful enterprises also implement organizational change management (OCM) and training programs to help workers make the most of their technology. Unisys and HFS Research found that employees and their employers agree “better training” and “consistent technology quality regardless of home or office” are the two most important elements of a hybrid work environment. Strategic OCM programs can reduce technical issues to improve the employee experience during a technology deployment, leading to a better appetite for change, improved productivity and enhanced employee experience.
Harness the benefits of video conferencing
It’s clear that businesses must provide a robust end-to-end video conferencing and communications infrastructure that supports a dispersed workforce to remain competitive in the marketplace. In the same hybrid work study, more than two-thirds of employees named web-based video collaboration and video conferencing tools “very important for collaboration and efficiency.” As a result, companies are now investing in high-quality video conferencing infrastructure to meet the growing demand for this technology, including:
- Instigating meeting room assessments and dedicated room planning
- Installing purpose-built furniture
- Purchasing high-end cameras and microphones
- Upgrading internet connections
- Investing in reliable, easy-to-use video conferencing software
With this approach, employers can provide a positive end-user experience to promote a truly collaborative environment that benefits from the following:
1. Increased productivity
Video conferencing has gained popularity due to its ability to increase productivity and efficiency. The technology empowers team members to collaborate in real time, share ideas and make decisions more quickly, eliminating the need to wait for a response to a phone call, email, or instant message. When selecting a solution, ensure that it enables a parity of functionality between devices and platforms, as the end user’s mobile experience should be comparable to that of a desktop application, for example.
2. Inclusive workplace culture
Remote and hybrid work has also highlighted the importance of accessible digital workplaces to support geographically dispersed teams for whom face-to-face meetings are impossible. Video conferencing platforms help deliver experience parity to all meeting participants and foster a more inclusive workplace culture. All team members have a voice and a presence, regardless of location. Video conferencing can also create new dynamics to help break down communication barriers often in traditional workplaces, where some individuals may be overlooked or ignored.
3. Employee satisfaction and retention
With technology tools proliferating in our everyday lives, employees have developed higher standards for the quality of their workplace technologies. For example, employees surveyed in the Unisys and HFS study ranked “provision of technology tools and support to help me do my job effectively” as the second-most influential factor when considering whether to stay with or leave a current employer—named only after “salary and compensation.” Providing high-quality video conferencing infrastructure is now table stakes for companies implementing a successful hybrid work model.
Next steps: Level up your video conferencing infrastructure
As the landscape of hybrid work continues to evolve, video conferencing will likely remain a critical component of modern IT infrastructure. Companies that invest in high-quality video conferencing and meeting room infrastructure and deliver effective training programs will reap the benefits of increased employee productivity and satisfaction.