Video conferencing has become a vital component of the digital workplace, and experts don't expect the trend to die down anytime soon. Even with some workers heading back to the corporate office, Gartner predicts that in-person meetings will continue to drop in the years ahead, from 60 percent to 25 percent by 2024 due to the increasing adoption of remote work.
Still, despite our increasing reliance on this software, video calls don’t always go smoothly. Technical glitches, audio challenges and slow load times are just a few of the problems users encounter along the way. Given the importance of these tools to the future of work, the opportunities for improvement go well beyond just fixing situational problems and getting that Zoom meeting link to work.
7 Video Conferencing Improvements to Consider
The initial surge of remote work cause by the pandemic led to massive growth for providers of video conferencing software. According to Statista, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet were installed 479 million times in Q2 2020, up from 147 million the previous quarter. While growth has tailed off since, it remains robust and the large platform providers continue to add new features and refine existing ones.
Here are some tips to make the most of this ongoing development in digital work tools to support remote and hybrid teams.
1. Focus on More Equitable Collaboration
When everyone worked remotely, it was convenient to have everyone in a meeting on the screen simultaneously. However, with more hybrid situations occurring, meetings and collaboration spaces for teams aren’t always equitable.
Hellene Garcia, head of commercials at virtual meeting room company Neat, said making video collaboration more equitable is key to supporting natural interactions and productivity. "When some people are in a meeting room and others are at home, it can be impossible for the remote participants to see and hear everyone in the meeting room equally,” she said.
Having a solution that helps restore the balance during these meeting situations can go a long way to improving virtual meetings.
2. Enable Multiple Control Options
Health concerns remain as some employees begin returning to the office. To provide a feeling of safety, Garcia recommended finding solutions that provide the flexibility to start and control meetings from a central controller, an individual’s laptop or phone — or via voice commands.
3. Set Up Authentication Requirements
One of the biggest concerns surrounding video conferencing tools — and most digital tools — is security. Zoombombing, for instance, became a concern for many, when hackers repeatedly hacked random Zoom sessions.
To help mitigate the risk, George Waller, CEO and co-founder of cybersecurity company StrikeForce Technologies, recommended having more secure authentication requirements beyond a password.
“Key authentication features that should be standardized include one-time passcodes (OTP), two-factor (2FA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA), out-of-band authentication (OOB), biometrics capabilities,” he said.
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4. Focus on Endpoint Protection
Another security feature that can help improve video conferencing is the inclusion of endpoint protection to make meeting participants less susceptible to malware spying.
"Endpoint protection should include things like camera protection, screen capture, clipboard protection, microphone protection and keystroke logging,” said Waller.
5. More Sharing and Collaboration Capabilities
Video conferencing is a critical piece of the collaboration puzzle but to improve collaboration capabilities, these tools need to go beyond screen sharing. Participants should have the ability to share files during a meeting and tag other participants to ensure that they see an item in the chat.
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6. Improved Meeting Organization
Video conferencing tools should also include functionalities that help organize, attend and review notes from a meeting. Features such as auto-reminders at the 5-minute mark for attendees who are not in the meeting room, the ability to easily create breakout rooms and better recording controls like the ability to trim recordings before downloading are all useful to consider to improve the user experience.
7. Improved Language Assistance
Hosting online or virtual events has broadened reach, which has increased participation by people who don’t necessarily speak the same language or those who have hearing or visual impairments. Software that includes translation tools and closed-captioning can go a long way in improving the event experience for everyone.
Focus on Employee Experience in Making Changes
Leaders should consider asking employees about their video conference experiences and what they wish they could improve or change. By providing added functionalities, companies can unlock unexpected benefits. Two potential areas to focus on:
Improving Team Participation
Employees aren’t always excited at the prospect of virtual meetings, but improving collaboration options can also improve participation in meetings. That has downstream benefits for individual and team engagement, as well as productivity and innovation.
“When people are engaged and attuned, they’re less likely to turn the boring black boxes on [and more likely to] retain the information and help build team cohesion,” said Ed Stevens, CEO of Dallas-based social presence platform Preciate.
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Injecting Energy Into Meetings
Employees can become disengaged when audio or visual issues occur during meetings. Better organization and options to improve the virtual meeting experience can therefore lead to more energized employees. This includes video collaboration tools that allow people to move freely and stay energized and productive, as well as enable them to see and hear clearly. Both options will reduce fatigue and inspire more creative collaboration.
"Everyone needs to feel like they’re in the same place because a dispersed workforce relies on distributed creativity," said Garcia. "So, innovative collaboration technology will be critical to enable the inspired meetings and brainstorming that fuel innovation."