Personalizing the meeting room: when consumer tech spills into the corporate world
The way to attend and hold meetings is changing and the collaboration space will have to evolve to meet the expectations of the workforce. Where employees work individually on laptops, the physical room will play a crucial role in enabling a more collaborative, more engaging and more productive style of working. With the steady uprise of video conferencing as the favored meeting medium, new trends such as bring your own device (BYOD) and the use of unified collaboration and communication (UCC) platforms; physical meeting environments are assuming a new role. Business leaders need to balance the virtual meetings with the physical engagements. It’s not about forcing employees to come in to the office, but rather understanding when the physical engagement is necessary and how to connect with remote workers effectively. We looked at some of the changes in the meeting room space and how personalization can enhance the experience.
Meetings are becoming video first
Video-first is ramping up across industries as a key organizational communication strategy, as opposed to audio-only conference calls. Many enterprises have made the shift to video-first meetings to increase productivity and employee engagement, especially for dispersed teams across geographies. Video conferencing has become the new normal for organizations to stay relevant, attract talent and be more productive. Indeed 55% of employees believe that companies that use video conferencing are more collaborative, and 31% believe companies that use video conferencing are more successful (Impact of Video conferencing report, 2019 Lifesize). The play is clear for decision-makers, they will have to invest in collaboration solutions that enable premium video conferencing with a ‘face-to-face’ quality. It will help to attract and retain the new digital talent who value video-first cultures, and to cultivate a more collaborative and engaging workplace for all employees and partners.
Employees’ expectations towards technology have changed
Organizations are made up of employees who are also daily consumers of technology in their private lives, and who demand that the tools being deployed in their workplace are compatible with one another. They also expect that the tools they use should be designed to support their existing workflows rather than creating additional friction, which is too often the case. Indeed, employees’ experience as consumers have changed their expectations towards collaboration technology in their workplaces. As consumers, we already expect easy integration and compatibility with other devices. We have become increasingly familiar with personalization of content thanks to Google, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon and others. We expect the same interface and experience regardless of where or when we use it. Yet, when it comes to technology within meeting rooms, collaboration spaces or board rooms – nothing is predictable, nothing is easy to use and systems used by employees on a daily basis on their laptops and mobiles such as Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams or Outlook suddenly become non inter-operable or banned. We find ourselves equipped with unified communication applications across all devices, except the ones used in the meeting rooms. Participants revert to laptops to attend web and video conferences and squeeze in front of the laptop webcam and microphone. Efficiency and quality get compromised, and frustration grow. Enterprises must adopt a more personalized approach to meetings and collaboration technology where audio, video and content sharing are integrated in the same was as in the personal devices world.
The role of the physical space: enabling the digital workforce
Meeting rooms are becoming the central physical location that brings cohesion across user endpoints, hardware devices and software platforms in order to collaborate. Business leaders must proactively equip employees with contemporary and integrated meeting rooms solutions that satisfy employees’ preferences and requirements. This means adopting solutions that make meeting spaces fully interoperable with technology which is platform and hardware agnostic. Employees should be able to trust the environment to work as they enter the room, to be compatible with their own devices and third-parties’ to focus on the outcomes of the meeting rather than the underlying technology.
Collaboration technology that actually let you collaborate
Talking to IT professionals, we know that customers are tired of investing and maintaining systems that only serve one part of the collaboration equation. Too often, audio, web and video conferencing solutions are built in silos that are not inter-operable nor consistent across meeting rooms and different office locations. Given the wide diversity of devices, software platforms and access modes in play; collaboration rooms need to be transformed to optimize the experience for participants. It should replicate the ease of the desktop experience and bring it into the larger and more immersive context of collaboration rooms. By overcoming this hurdle, organizations will create operational excellence: ease of use, better employees satisfaction and confidence in the systems. This in turn will drive more frequent usage of meeting rooms, more in real-life interactions and conversations, better collaboration and more productivity overall.
The human impact of a personalized experience in collaboration rooms
As we have seen, business meeting rooms are often ill-equipped to foster true collaboration. So it is only logical that the meeting room should adopt the technology that users know best, and be as intuitive as possible. Collaboration technology, such as Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams, and the integration with your personal calendar, should be streamlined with the desktop and mobile experiences employees are already used to. A personalized experience within the meeting rooms is a great way for companies to move employees from their desktops and into the meetings rooms. It’s here where people meet and engage with multiple perspectives and discussions, where participants can join, virtually or in the room. The benefits of collaboration are well known, optimizing use of time and resources, encourage knowledge sharing across the organization, spark innovation and expedite problem solving.