In a hybrid work world, audiovisual technology provides the critical connective tissue that binds remote, mobile and on-premises workforces. Most would like those connections to be a little stronger, however.
Incompatible video meeting platforms create frustrating technical barriers and contribute to “meeting inequity” — a sense that not everyone has an equal opportunity to communicate, contribute and share ideas. A recent study reports that 71 percent of workers struggle with the frictions and technical challenges that come with hybrid engagement.
Platform incompatibility is a long-running issue that was exacerbated by ad hoc adoption practices during the pandemic. Companies commonly use three or more different platforms built on proprietary technology with different video coding and decoding (codec) formats.
Scheduled meetings get complicated when users aren’t on the same platform. Often, some have to download, install and load a new app at the last minute while others wait. A 2022 Read’s study found that 31 percent of virtual meetings start late. Such friction wastes time and puts everyone in a bad mood. That doesn’t contribute to productive engagements.
Vendors have made some headway in resolving the interoperability issue. Agreements among Cisco, Microsoft, Google, and Zoom are paving the way for one-touch connectivity to meetings through the app of their choice, but those capabilities aren’t yet finalized.
The issue of meeting equity also remains in play. The idea is to create a video experience that more closely mimics in-person meetings in which everyone has the same opportunity to be seen and heard. Most say current hybrid meetings fall short of that goal.
In a typical video meeting between on-premises and remote employees, the office team is in the same room, gathered around a conference table, and shown in a single video frame. Meanwhile, remote users are shown in a “Brady Bunch” type of grid display. Research shows that remote workers have trouble engaging in such meetings due to the perception that the in-office team dominates the conversation. Contributing to the disconnect, the single-frame view of the room means remote workers can’t make eye contact with their office counterparts, making it difficult to pick up on the visual cues you’d typically get during an in-person conversation.
Experienced A/V integrators have the tools and expertise to resolve many of these issues and improve video collaboration for the hybrid workforce. Following industry-certified design and implementation principles, they can ensure interoperability between disparate systems through the use of standards, protocols, and programming interfaces.
In addition to eliminating the technical barriers to video collaboration, A/V integrators can provide guidance on the technologies that deliver meeting equity. For example, 360-degree cameras with zoom lenses and auto-framing features eliminate the standard single-frame conference room view and create a better experience for remote users. These cameras use artificial intelligence to recognize all individuals in a meeting space, regardless of their distance from the camera, and create a close-up view of each. This helps remote users make eye contact and see clearly who is speaking.
In-room touch displays, software-based virtual whiteboards, display panels for running captions, and real-time translation capabilities are other AI-powered features that can help. A/V integrators can also ensure proper sound design for meeting rooms, with microphone and speaker placements that make it easy for remote users to follow discussions.
Video meetings are essential to an effective hybrid work model, but only if employees are engaged and actively participating. The A/V professionals at Rahi can work with you to plan, design and implement solutions that will remove any technical barriers to effective communications. Contact us to set up a consultation.
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