Video conferencing is currently undergoing a rite of passage.
Like an ancient ritual where physically demanding tasks must be undertaken to earn the right to move from one group to another or one phase of life to another, video is going through the pains of moving into the realm of the workplace.
Video usage is up, and so too are the complaints and frustrations that accompany a new way of working. The ease of use of modern video conferencing is (ironically) also the cause of many of these problems.
Gone are the days when video calls were the sole domain of the C-suite boardroom and the responsibility of a dedicated IT expert. Now, video calling is simple enough to have a place at every desk. With that increased exposure and use comes a learning curve for those who previously dealt with nothing more complex than an email account.
The increase in video conferencing popularity is causing problems, but they’re ultimately the right problems to have as we embrace 21st-century communications.
The Increase in Video Conferencing: Stats
There’s no doubt video conferencing is enjoying a boom. Just how big that boom is may surprise you. A recent survey commissioned by video conferencing hardware manufacturer Polycom (granted, hardly an unbiased source) found that in the U.S.:
- 68% of companies surveyed made or received more video calls over the past two years
- More than 40% of companies make more than 2,000 video calls each month
- 62% of respondents have reported an increase in cloud-based video conferencing applications
- 76% use more than one video conferencing vendor
- More than 40% said it was important they could support live streams with up to 1,000 participants
- More than half of all respondents are preparing to implement a unified video conferencing plan
Those figures are in line with video conferencing market growth estimates VC Daily has previously reported. Our most recent discussions found that the video conferencing market is growing around 20% each year, which is expected to drive the enterprise video conferencing market’s value to more than $40 billion annually. Just a few months ago we brought you estimations that speculated video conferencing would be in regular use within 86% of U.S. businesses before 2018 was over.
If you weren’t already a video conferencing fan, then welcome to 21st-century communication.
A 21st-Century Problem
The rapid boom in video conferencing use has inevitably exposed a whole new section of the workforce to what is still an evolving technology. As with all introductions, there’s a high chance of a misunderstanding if things aren’t properly explained.
The problem is that the way everyone uses video calling, be they novice or veteran, has changed. Video conferencing is a now a part of most desktops and even daily workflows. Collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Slack cater to every aspect of internal communications, from instant messaging and email to video calls and shared storage systems.
The rise of huddle room video conferencing and hot desking has been driven in part by user-friendly video hardware and cheap subscription software.
That kind of integration can make group communication far more efficient, but it also requires a unified approach that can be difficult to achieve. Similarly, more of the video conferencing heavy lifting is being left to non-IT staff. The rise of huddle room video conferencing and hot desking has been driven in part by user-friendly video hardware and cheap subscription software that is intended to be handled with little or no assistance from an IT pro.
Again, that can be a real resource-saver, but without comprehensive training and a common set of platforms and protocols, a promising office video conferencing solution can turn into a frustration, leaving workers with poorly managed meetings and low call quality.
Rest assured, video conferencing the 21st-century way is going to make work easier. It’ll just take some time to get used to a new way of working.
How to Handle the Increase in Video Conferencing
The secret to successfully adopting any new workplace practice is communication. There’s no substitute for a staff training program that tells a common story across shared platforms. No matter what department, purpose, or location an employee inhabits in your organization, they should be able to communicate across the same platforms. Nothing slows down communication quicker than unnecessarily expanding the channels of communication any given person has to navigate to reach another.
Encouraging BYOD can make employees faster and more comfortable with their devices.
In that light, here are a few suggestions on how to handle the new video conferencing system in your company’s life:
Less is more with video vendors: We’ve heard tales of companies using as many as five different video conferencing platforms as part of their communications setup. That’s just asking for trouble. Considering that very few video calling platforms can connect across brand lines, you’re effectively partitioning off a part of your workforce every time you introduce a new platform. Find a vendor that suits your needs and roll it out across the company as a common source.
Be careful with BYOD: Bring-your-own-device workplaces are becoming more common as companies push some of the hardware cost back onto their employees, but it can come at a cost. As with the point above, every platform runs its own set of protocols and some, such as iOS, won’t even share the same presentation stage without specialized equipment. Encouraging BYOD can make employees faster and more comfortable with their devices, but it also means making sure you have the right equipment to make that leap.
Distinguish between internal and external communications: There are generally only a few teams within your company that get the privilege of dealing directly with your customers and partners. Those people have special video calling needs. While the rest of your staff can make do with chat window displays on their desktops, your customer-facing teams need to impress with their visuals. Don’t be afraid to furnish them with a unique VC vendor and a high-quality 4K group video conferencing system. There’s a point at which communication moves from function to form.
As with the rise of any new technology, you’re bound to go through some growing pains as you introduce video conferencing as the main source of communication in your office. But stick with it. Video is quickly becoming one of the most important and efficient forms of communication in any industry, and it’ll only improve in the future.