Technology Record - Issue 32: Spring 2024

INTERVIEW Boosting productivity AVIXA’s Sean Wargo discusses the difficulty in measuring employee productivity and how AI can help overcome meeting overload and better connect remote attendees Although working from home was not a new concept at the time of the pandemic, it was a new norm for many employees. “The pandemic was a very disruptive time for us all, being forced to immediately change from a largely in-office work experience to fully remote,” says Sean Wargo, vice president of market intelligence at the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA). “Employees were very productive when they first started working from home but as time passed, normalcy and distraction set in, and issues with the home setup began to arise.” Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index found that 87 per cent of people were productive when working from home. The number of meetings for the average Microsoft Teams user had increased by 153 per cent from March 2020 to February 2022 and Microsoft suggested that this peak has become the new baseline. “Does an increase in meetings indicate that employees are more productive?” asks Wargo. “I’m not sure. Of course, we’re communicating more than we used to but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re getting the work done. Businesses need to consider a new level to productivity gains now.” For Wargo, this comes from artificial intelligence. “Some days it’s hard to keep up with the number of meetings you’ve got in your calendar,” he says. “It can be impossible to digest all the information and, understandably, people end up misremembering tasks and deadlines. But AI-powered tools like Microsoft Copilot in Teams help them to manage their workload by summarising information. The ability to have something transcribe meetings helps employees to be more efficient.” Copilot in Teams outlines key discussion points and suggests action items in real time during meetings. If users join meetings late, they can use the feature to generate a summary of what they’ve missed and meeting participants can use it to ensure there are no unresolved issues from the meeting agenda. AI is helping to better connect employees too. BY ALICE CHAMBERS 70 The Crestron 1 Beyond PTZ camera tracks meeting participants with AI-powered framing Photo: Crestron