Driving Video Meetings Into the Post COVID-19 Decade
Video meetings have grown consistently over the past decade, seeing a huge popularity spike over the past month. The widespread lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is fundamentally shifting attitudes to remote and flexible approaches to work, with millions of workers worldwide now using video conferencing technology as part of their day-to-day functions.
Nobody could have foreseen this sea change in the market. Video conferencing technology is no longer reserved for people at the top of an organisation and, in the coming post COVID-19 decade, it will be viewed as something that can deliver value to almost anyone within a company by enhancing communication, collaboration and, most importantly, business success.
What was a useful tool for millions prior to March 2020, has rapidly become a business-critical technology, supporting a distributed working environment, making flexible working more achievable, reducing greenhouse emissions and keeping us all safe and productive.
And while it is still unclear exactly what will change post-lockdown, there is no doubt that video solutions will continue to surge in popularity throughout 2020.
Flexible and remote working
Technical advancements over the past 10 years have made flexible and remote working achievable. This is why the number of people working ‘flexible hours’ has increased five-fold in the last two decades, with well over half of the British workforce now operating out of the office, or outside typical nine-to-five working hours. And a great deal of those companies that were cautious about flexible working, because of the logistical problem’s employees may encounter, have now been forced to adapt to modern distributed working patterns, following the pandemic.
Video meetings ensure good communication and collaborative working, allowing employees to instantly meet face-to-face, regardless of where they are in the world. These features will only get stronger as the years go on, resulting in even more flexible working arrangements. According to the 2019 UK Working Lives Report, professionals desired greater autonomy, with 68 per cent looking to work flexibly in a way that wasn’t available at the time, and this number will only be greater as we come out of the other side of the crisis, as more people understand the possibilities. Video is going to play a vital role in ensuring employees are given the flexibility they wish for, without compromising on business success.
A sustainable workplace
Global awareness of environmental practices has crept significantly up the C-suites agenda. The rise of influential environmentalists like Greta Thunberg and events such as the Extinction Rebellion protests have put more emphasis on the importance of tackling climate change. This has meant UK organisations are choosing to become more sustainable, with some pledging to become carbon negative by the end of the decade.
The biggest problem organisations face when trying to reduce their carbon footprint is travel. Business travel is one of the largest sources of carbon emission, with a flight from London to Perth emitting over 3000kg of CO2 per passenger. We’ve already seen significant reports showing the improvement in some environmental factors during the global lockdown, and as a result, the post COVID-19 business landscape will undoubtably have an impact on the environment (most likely for the better). As we come out the other side the hope is organisations will re-evaluate their travel needs, in light of social distancing and environmental reasonings, instead opting for more viable, friendly alternatives, such as video meetings.
Reducing business costs
Another factor continuing to influence the popularity of video conferencing are the cost savings it can provide for businesses. Once the coronavirus pandemic is over, we expect millions of employers will be looking very closely at non-essential costs involved with shared office spaces and travel to and from meetings.
Meetings outside the office can be hugely expensive. Encouraging employees to meet over video as opposed to travelling to faraway locations is a great way for a company to save on accommodation and travel costs. By promoting remote working, organisations are also able to reduce the number of permanent desks within working spaces, allowing them to optimise their real estate spend.
Additionally, the physical dynamics of the office has changed. Office designs have moved away from cubicles to open plan spaces. Larger meeting rooms are being broken down to smaller, huddle spaces, with dedicated video solutions installed into these. Doing this increases workplace productivity and meeting room utilisation.
Video recruiting: the answer to the UK skills shortage?
The post-pandemic landscape could also see fundamental changes in the way we identify and employ talent. COVID-19 has thrust remote working on the majority of organisations and businesses have had to adapt. Much like questioning the need for big office spaces, organisations are now realising they no longer need to be constrained by geographic location when it comes to employing the best possible person for the job.
Using video to hire and retain employees is an effective way for employers to widen their talent pool. It gives organisations the opportunity to employ a candidate who is perfectly suited to the job description, opposed to how close they might live. The longer the pandemic lasts, the more we expect organisations will turn to video solutions to recruit and retain employees, regardless of where they are in the world.
Have the right systems in place
There are a number of external factors that will continue to drive the uptake and popularity of video meetings in the post-COVID decade – but to achieve this it’s imperative the correct solutions are in place. A solution that constantly loses connection or takes time to set up or update is counterproductive. This will not only cause frustration for employees, clients and suppliers but it could ultimately end up costing the business in the long term. It’s important businesses think smarter. A reliable, secure and easy-to-use video solution is certainly one way to support this.
By William MacDonald, Chief Technology Office, StarLeaf
With a well-founded reputation as a major industry influencer and visionary, Will’s primary role is to optimize the StarLeaf customer experience. His passion is the realization of continual innovation that delivers groundbreaking solutions aligned to customer needs. Before founding StarLeaf, he was founder and the General Manager of the Americas for Codian. When Tandberg acquired Codian in 2007, Will was appointed Chief Strategy Officer, which allowed him to help set the strategic vision and direction on a global basis, prior to Cisco acquiring Tandberg in 2010. Prior to Codian, Will held senior management positions at Calista and Madge Networks. He has a Masters degree in Computer Science from Cambridge University.