Video meetings: are they a curse or a blessing?

Despite the convenience of video conferencing solutions like Microsoft Teams, the vast number of products available is causing problems among users

Anders Løkke
By Anders Løkke on 15 June 2021
Video meetings: are they a curse or a blessing?

In today’s home office landscape, there are many ways of meeting via video. Microsoft Teams leads the way by enabling millions of people with its platform-based approach, where video becomes an integrated part of users’ everyday tools alongside their chat, documents, calendar, and other work-related dashboards. The integration makes it easy to click the camera button and call the person with whom you are collaborating instantly, or schedule a meeting directly in the calendar. 

The growth in business video usage was long overdue – the industry has hoped for this for many years, but it took a pandemic to drive digital transformation in many businesses. The expansion of usage is creating better technology, as with Teams, for instance. But there are also many other video meeting tools available in the market. Many in the communications industry have assumed that these different solutions would eventually converge to create a smoother and more straightforward user experience. However, with overnight video adoption caused by the pandemic, video meetings have become even more complex. 

When we call someone on the phone, it doesn’t matter what make of phone the recipient has or what network they use. There is no technological hurdle in this experience, so why is there still such a disconnect in the video meeting experience? 

When Covid-19 arrived, many organisations didn’t have time to think through all the elements of setting up a video meeting solution for long-term use; they just needed a solution to quickly enable people to keep working. The volume, growth and availability of new solutions provided many companies with a quick fix. But this ‘panic buying’ also created problems for end-users. We now have many ways of meeting without a simple way to bridge these gaps. Employees grow accustomed to their internal platform, but when someone invites them to a meeting using a different provider, problems arise. Anxiety, intimidation, and even panic set in. 

Research shows that even as workers now return to their offices, video meetings are likely to remain the norm. Many companies plan for hybrid workforces, where employees can work from wherever they like. 

And this is where the challenges become evident. 

For many, every meeting is now a Teams meeting. More often than not, meeting invites include the Teams meeting link by default, and every meeting becomes a hybrid meeting with some in the office and some remote. This perfectly reflects the hybrid workforce. 

Because of this, when someone walks into the office conference room and wants to join the Teams meeting, they don’t necessarily see the difference between a Teams Room system, a Cisco WebEx system, or a dedicated high-end custom-made video meeting solution. They see a screen, a camera, and some kind of input device such as a remote control or a touch panel. They don’t care about the technology, the brand, or even what kind of meeting it is. They care about the meeting itself – closing that deal, helping that customer, or hiring that new employee. 

But instead, that person is distracted and anxious, asking themselves: “Is the camera on? How do I join this meeting again? Is the microphone working? Where’s the PIN code? Once I get into the meeting, will it work? Oh no, they can’t hear me. Oh right, I’m on mute. Why can’t they see my presentation?” 

For many users, joining the meeting is a hurdle. Often, this happens because there are so many different meeting room systems available. The user may not join Teams meetings from the office conference room every day, and therefore may not be fully confident is using it. For them and millions of others, what should be a simple task becomes the biggest challenge. 

Teams meetings should be making our days less stressful, and yet, if the past year has shown us anything, it’s that for many, ‘video fatigue’ is real, and much of that is due to the stress of simply joining the meeting and trusting that it will work the same way every time. 

Pexip works with organisations to both plan and execute the return to the office. Its solutions enable virtually any video-equipped meeting room to join Teams meetings with the touch of a button, regardless of what system is in that room. This makes it easier to join Teams meetings and creates a happier and more confident hybrid workforce. 

The pandemic has shown how powerful and efficient video meetings are and how, in the future, we can use this technology to improve the work-life balance by offering more flexible workplaces. But first, the experience of joining a Teams meeting from any location has to improve. Using a meeting-agnostic video solution like those from Pexip means empowering workers with tools they can trust. 

Anders Løkke is the senior director of strategic alliances at Pexip

This article was originally published in the Spring 2021 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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