Companies are increasingly adopting hybrid work models, which poses many opportunities and challenges. Every day, as the hybrid workplace grows in popularity, remote employees join meetings in which several members of the team are physically present. With employees joining meetings near and far, meeting equality is a major new challenge for installers to consider when selling and designing video collaboration systems.
That’s because remote participants often struggle to be seen and heard in a way that physical participants do not. If a remote participant’s audio and video aren’t clear, they are unable to follow side discussions and have trouble picking up non-verbal cues. This raises critical equality discrepancies. If audio and video quality is bad, remote collaboration does not allow them to engage as easily as colleagues sitting face-to-face – which could lead to a disadvantage in meetings if they cannot correctly contribute.
The reality is that the quality of a video conferencing solution is the key to ensuring meeting equity. Both remote and in-person colleagues must be able to speak, be seen, and engage in the conversation as naturally as possible in order for hybrid meetings to really work.
Barco’s report, “Exploring the Challenges of The Hybrid Workplace” indicates that there is a hybrid meeting paradox. Approximately 80% of staff want to work in a hybrid schedule – but approximately 71% of those employees feel stressed and frustrated in hybrid meetings. Plus, 35% find it difficult to engage with others during hybrid meetings with 1 in 4 having difficulty speaking up.
With the innovative video conferencing solutions available on the market, this frankly should not be the case. Integrators and resellers can help ensure that corporate customers can effectively collaborate in this new (hybrid) normal. High-quality collaboration solutions can help establish meeting equality – allowing remote participants to be seen and heard, while also reducing stress and anxiety for physically present workers in the office.
When it comes to room acoustics, background noise, slow broadband, and poor hardware all undermine clear audio within a conferencing setting. Specifically for remote workers, poor audio pick-up on laptops or microphones can lead to a battle to be heard and a feeling of inferiority. It’s pivotal for meeting equality to be able to capture every detail of a conversation without distortion with a high-quality audio solution.
In addition to the equipment used, the location in which microphones and speakers are placed also helps correct poor audio. Keeping a clear line of sight by not blocking audio devices with a laptop or drink canisters can help optimize sound performance.
For physical, in-office employees, ensuring ease of use is critical for adoption. Video collaboration solutions should be flexible and offer them the ability to use whatever collaboration app or cloud service they prefer. Ideally, physically present employees should be able to bring their laptop to an office or remote meeting and plugin with a USB cable.
The meeting equality challenge offers a unique opportunity for the integration and IT communities. Professionals can build customized video collaboration ecosystems that foster inspiration and facilitate collaborative sessions that ensure productivity in the hybrid workplace.
Installers can and should encourage corporate customers to invest in high-quality video cameras, webcams, and audio devices for all room sizes and locations. Other tips for optimizing performance include:
- Adopt as simple of a user interface as possible to reduce overall technical complexities
- Rely on auto framing technology so that physically present employees can be seen wherever they are seated in a conference room
- Design a clear sightline to microphones; don’t block them with objects
- Maintain high-speed Internet for optimal performance
- Ensure that employees are familiar with the technology and meeting apps for seamless adoption
- Suggest ergonomic keyboards and mice
- Invest in powerful, enterprise-grade laptops and provide extra monitors
— By Stefan Eriksson, CMO at Konftel