If you go to any telecommunications conference or tradeshow, one thing will be apparent: the era of video collaboration is here. Competition for a customer's video meetings business has grown fierce as each vendor offers a “true collaboration experience”. Hardware vendors are providing all kinds of accessories from cameras to speakers to switches that make connecting in a video huddle room as easy as the press of a button. We as consumers are desperately trying to find some way to make meetings more productive. Why shouldn’t we? Mitel research discovered that more than a third of our workdays is spent in meetings. And, while we consider them ‘valuable’, meetings simply aren’t productive.
So, are video meetings a gamechanger for business? In many ways, yes.
Video as the preferred meeting channel
Two years ago, Mitel’s leadership decided that the organization would embrace video for meetings. The move to video in the market was apparent. Gone were the days when there wasn’t enough bandwidth to support video on the network, and everyone had a webcam built into their devices. There was nothing preventing us from using video to meet. All conference rooms were outfitted with video units as well.
With executive support, the changes were immediate. Initially there were some growing pains with adjusting to the new software, but as the learning curve flattened and we gained more experience, people were eager to meet. Today we turn to video meetings first. We like not having to find a conference room and when we get a meeting notice from the old audio conference system, we demand to know why video can’t be used.
Video promotes employee attentiveness
As companies grow, the need for employees to collaborate remotely increases. In the past, audio and web conferences provided the perfect environment to multitask. It was not uncommon to have at least one participant offer a long pause after being asked a question. Much time was wasted in lack of attention. But, with video, you can see when someone isn’t engaged in the meeting; there are visual cues that they aren't paying attention. And now it only takes being caught unaware once before you find people are more compliant and stop multitasking. The end result: meetings tend to be more productive.
Video helps remote employees feel connected
Ubiquitous high-speed mobile internet combined with capable unified communications and collaboration tools have empowered more employees to work anywhere at any time and on any device. However an HBR article suggests that more than half of surveyed remote employees often feel disconnected from the larger organization and frequently report allowing issues to persist for days or even weeks compared to their locally based colleagues. These feelings affect employee performance and satisfaction and, ultimately, the organization suffers as employees quit.
Video allows employees to participate and have the level of human interaction that they may not have working from home all day. While it may be important to bring remote employees into the office for important meetings, it’s impractical and expensive. Video has proven to be a much better alternative. Remote employees who use video report feeling more connected to their colleagues and increased trust as a result. We are social creatures who need to feel part of a whole. Video can facilitate that ― and it can even save a person's job.
Once I had a remote employee who was at risk of losing their job as part of an impending organizational change. My objective was to keep the employee focused on their task and not to concern themselves with decisions that were out of their control. I decided to start holding weekly video meetings with that employee to provide updates and answer questions they may have during the deliberation process. That way they could see my face and I could not hide behind a phone nor could I hide my discomfort behind a carefully worded email. As a result, they felt like they were in the loop about what was going on and stayed upbeat and productive. The employee was so productive, in fact, they were able to retain their job and became an asset to the organization.
Video Can Be More Useful
In each of these cases, the communication channels we used were siloed in such a way that we needed to move from one application for chat to another device for voice, to another application for video. It doesn’t have to be that way. When we consider our mobile devices, we can chat via text message, promote from the same interface to a phone call, and on the phone call screen, we can transition to a video call.
Now that we, as a workforce, have adopted all three of these communication channels (text, voice and video), it’s time to bring these together under one unified system. We don’t need to cross launch other applications to continue a conversation. These create communication seams that slow our ability to connect and cost more to support multiple applications than a single application that does all three.
Mitel has been a leader in the unified communications space, earning analyst awards every year for the past five years for the best technology in the world for text and voice. Mitel recently announced that it had worked with AWS to develop a Software Development Kit (SDK) for their cloud video platform. As the first customer for this SDK, Mitel has the opportunity to integrate video across all of its products and services, truly unifying communication in a seamless way.
Video is the new meeting space
It’s clear that video brings value like no other to meetings. Participants not only gain a sense of comradery, but also new levels of focus, connection and communication. It’s the meeting method of choice and paving the way to more seamless and available communications across the enterprise. A bonafide game-changer, it is gaining momentum across the globe. Where does video live in your business? Has it become your new meeting space?