As we near the one-year mark of living under pandemic protocols, one technology that has touched nearly every person is video conferencing. Remote workers use it to connect to the team, sales representatives have mastered it to eliminate travel, students of all ages log in to attend classes, and singles are even dating with it.
Yet, in the beginning, people weren’t so keen on adopting this new technology. By April 2020—only a month or so into the new reality—Forbes published an article titled, “No, Please, Not Another Video Call!” where author Enrique Dans professes video conferencing “complicate things” and that “seeing the face of the person we’re talking to adds nothing to the experience.” By November 2020, online articles moved past trying to emphasize techniques to overcome online camera shyness and focused instead on ratings of the best video conferencing programs and equipment on the market.
So where are we with video conferencing today—one year into remote working?
While some businesses are well on their way to investing in remote working technologies, others are still winging it hoping to manage through until the pandemic ends and life returns to “normal.” However, what will that new normal look like? Here are a few thoughts about what our remote communications may look like in the future.
- We’ve learned about the true value of remote meetings. Unlike conference calls, video meetings allow us to put a face to a name—creating more commitment, resulting in greater empathy, and overall strengthening bonds between people. The ability to hold meetings remotely has given employees the ability to more easily manage the demands of home and work life, allowing employees to work more efficiently without unnecessary travel or commuting, and provides the freedom to participate in meetings in multiple locations on the same day. In other words, businesses and employees have found benefit in this new way of conducting business and are likely to continue with it.
- The world has gotten smaller. It’s easy to have face-to-face remote communication via video conferencing regardless of the participants being in the same town, different states, or located in various countries. Incorporating participation from various locations brings different viewpoints and a wide degree of diversity to project teams and decision-making. It’s also changed the playing field for recruitment, as now workplaces are better equipped than ever to hire the best employees regardless of where they live. It is unlikely that businesses will choose to return to being more limited and defined by physical locations with teams of employees primarily made up of local residents.
- Video technology will be more widely accessible. It wasn’t that long ago that most standard software packages were built to be installed locally on servers at the business and managed by the company’s internal IT team. Since then, the majority of modern software solutions has moved to the cloud, requiring different types of computing networking with internet accessibility needed to complete day-to-day work. Video conferencing is simply the next phase of technology investments, expanding the need for greater bandwidth and new video-related hardware. And according to the numbers, businesses are making those investments. Statista reported in September 2020,
“Placed on top of the fundamental infrastructure, collaboration and communication tools provide the necessary services to work collaboratively as a team in remote settings. In line with the growth trend of the cloud market, the revenue from the cloud email and collaboration market is set to double in size by 2024 compared to 2020 and is projected to be worth around 81 billion U.S. dollars annually, almost doubling its projected size in 2020.”
With those kinds of dollars invested in remote communications infrastructures, businesses are showing their commitment to retaining these methods for meetings and communication far beyond the conclusion of the pandemic.
- Video conferencing technology will not replace in-person meetings entirely. It’s important to note that no matter what benefits this technology provides or the investments companies will place in it, humans are still human. With that comes an internal desire to have in-person contact with others. Teams will still come together around board room tables, employees will continue to huddle together to discuss the latest challenges of their projects, and sales representatives will always fly across the country to meet with important clients. Video technology will not replace in-person meetings, but it will serve to supplement it in valuable ways. It is very likely that “standard” will be to meet remotely while in-person meetings become the alternate “next best” choice.
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