Future of meetings: leveraging technology for better business outcomes

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Published: Sun 26 Apr 2020, 10:44 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Apr 2020, 12:48 AM

In a hyper-connected world where technology penetration is high, meetings are increasingly becoming accessible from anywhere, at any time. Digitisation has revolutionised workplace communications in recent years, allowing for seamless, convenient, and efficient collaboration between employees.
Furthermore, the gig-economy has led to an ever-increasing penchant for freelance and contract-based work, and a society that is more attached to their personal technology devices, leading to the need for collaboration systems that enables employees to connect from their own devices and conference solutions rather than technology provided by the organisation.
Although, it must be noted that while remote working and meetings has its benefits, it also presents unique challenges which need to be addressed by both the employees and businesses.
Efficiency and productivity
The corporate world is moving towards providing greater flexibility as organisations are aiding employees in becoming more agile by allowing them work remotely and host virtual meetings using preferred devices and solutions. In fact, Barco Clickshare study has shown that 71 per cent of employees are already selecting their own preferred conferencing systems, with on average six different conferencing solutions being used by every company.
As virtual meetings gain momentum and meetings becomes shorter, a growing number of employees are choosing to save time and costs by joining meetings remotely to save travel time and increase efficiency. Not only does it save travel costs and time, but also overall costs as businesses do not need to utilise large office spaces for employees. The study also indicates that 78 per cent of the current workforce is happy to attend tech-enabled meetings, while 53 per cent of all meetings today already involve attendees who join remotely.
Another benefit of virtual meetings rooms is increased employee productivity and 67 per cent of employees have admitted that hosting short meetings using video conference solutions has increased their productivity. Employee engagement is not just about happiness, but also about increased productivity which leads to better business outcomes - a lot of companies have realised this and thus, are embracing remote working.
However, a balance needs to be maintained where companies need to ensure that working remotely and virtual meetings does not hamper communication and relationships between colleagues or become detrimental for the team morale, which can be countered with a mix of proactive online and offline engagement established through regular connect, meetings and team building activities.
From an employee perspective, while conducting meetings remotely may increase their productivity, it can also lead to high stress from an 'Always On' work culture where they are always accessible and unable to switch off. This can take a toll on the employees mental and physical well-being. A well-being survey conducted by health insurer Cigna stated that 77 per cent employees have reported working in an 'always on' culture where they feel they cannot switch off from work even during the evenings or on weekends, which significantly impacts their stress levels.
Clear expectations, procedures and boundaries established by both the company and the employee would help address this challenge, while supporting a healthier working culture and convenience to employees.
Compatibility and cybersecurity
A crucial component and a key goal for company-wide success is frictionless internal and external collaboration. Technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade, enabling a more sustainable and reliable remote working environment, especially when it comes to remote meetings that are increasingly becoming global.
Despite that, employees experience compatibility issues and face challenges in connecting seamlessly when using different devices and conferencing solutions. Additionally, the business concerns about cybersecurity while sharing information in virtual meetings rooms continues to persist.
To address this gap, companies need to begin adopting technology that is reliable and secure, as well as compatible with the personal devices that employees prefer to use.
There is a need for a mindset shift around security threat to company data from using external devices. With the right technology, security measures and training of staff and employees, this threat can be mitigated.
Technology is designed empower both companies and employees, and by enabling increased flexibility and productivity, it can lead to better business outcomes for both. Whatever the system may be that the employee prefers to use to connect to remote meetings, this need not impact quality, security or compatibility. For example, product's like Barco's ClickShare Conference allows users to easily integrate with other conferencing solutions while adhering to their company's policies. Solutions like these enable employees to use the tools they know and trust on their laptop as well as ensure the data is securely managed throughout their online interactions.
It's not just down to individuals anymore, but businesses to embrace this approach and get ahead of the curve.
The long-term solution lies in true cross-industry collaboration: between the manufacturer to produce such products, the Channel to widen the scope and reach of such technologies, and the end users and businesses to fully leverage them.
Ramzi Itani is the vice president for the Middle East and Africa region at Barco. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.

By Ramzi Itani

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