The office is no longer a word that describes cubicles and conference rooms in a single building, and everyone is looking for solutions to bring people together to exchange ideas in real time without the need for physical meeting space. That said, there are still plenty of on-premise positions that exist, and blending these environments into a seamless communication machine is easier now than it ever has been.
The ultimate goal is to make interaction between remote and in-office employees as simple as walking over to their colleague’s desk. And while messaging services like Slack and project management tools like Basecamp helps increase the speed of doing business, being able to facilitate instant face-to-face interaction no matter where your employees are located is the difference between moderate success and standout success. Below are five video collaboration solutions that your business needs to adopt to survive.
Virtual Huddle Rooms
Blending the traditional office environment with telecommuting employees can seem like a daunting matter of upgrading equipment needs, but the reality is that virtual huddle rooms are often just a curation of technology you already have the capabilities for.
Huddle rooms, like we’ve discussed before, are helpful for facilitating collaborate between remote and in-office employees with the right blend of technologies, such as a microphones, projectors, videoconferencing capabilities, and screen sharing. Huddle rooms give you the collaborative flexibility to hold quick ad-hoc meetings in small groups as well as full-length, AV-rich presentations to small groups without needing to embargo a large conference rooms.
Research shows that the larger and longer the meeting group and agenda becomes, the less effective and productive it is overall. Fully AV-enabled huddle rooms allow even more flexibility for employees, regardless of location. Not to mention that allowing your employees to present and collaborate from their most productive spaces means that everyone gets to focus on the task at hand — get in, get the information, and get back to work.
Even a decade ago, the notion of virtual reality seemed almost impossibly futuristic as a consumer or B2B product. But now with phone app adaptations and the increasing affordability of VR headsets, VR has become a somewhat regular part of our everyday lives. The completely immersive VR technology allows a new level of realism, closeness, and collaboration to bloom in the conference room.
As we’ve stated in the past, VR bridges several gaps in the traditional videoconference experience — it pulls everyone into the same environment and it allows a new level of visual engagement. Imagine being able to do a VR presentation where the scale size model or design being pitched can be “constructed” in real time in the environment. Your entire team can see CAD designs in three dimensions, as well as recreate the traditional conference room environment with a diaspora of remote employees.
Telepresence robots have come a long way, and although they still have a long way to go, it would serve you well to investigate your opportunities with this technology. The “iPad-on-a-stick” robot is a useful tool for when you need the physical presence of a human but cannot get them there for whatever reason. We’ve discussed in the past how the conferencing robot bridges the gap, with the mobility of a person with the connectivity of remote work. If a person wants to explore an office remotely or walk around and “meet” their new co-workers from a remote workstation, they have a near-human interaction and can imagine themselves in a physical space. Offering that kind of self-directed exploration on-site isn’t just helpful for building a sense of culture and belonging for your remote employees, but your on-site employees as well.
These robots also allow a complete integration of audio, visual, and a steadier picture than you might get without a handheld steady rig. They’re also much more sophisticated and able to handle small objects on the floor and stability issues than earlier generations, and one can be used to facilitate small video conferences without the need to take up a huddle room or other meeting space.
Companies are moving closer to a mobile-first, if not a mobile-only culture, giving employees the option of having a complete video conferencing experience exclusively using mobile devices. Naturally, some considerations for speed will have to be considered, so it’s still advisable to coach all employees with a mobile video conferencing checklist, that we’ve previously laid out, that includes making sure they are connected to a strong wireless connection. You may also be well-served to equip mobile VC-ready employees with handheld steady rig to ensure good picture quality for when a static setup is unavailable.
Mobile video conferencing is especially handy for companies with a sales department that needs to be on the road, so you can keep your people in the field as much as possible while still maintaining media-rich contact that surpasses the informational value of phone calls and email.
As all of these options bloom into many more options and generations, it will be essential to stay on top of updates, security patches, and all the other accoutrements required to stay current in the remote work game. Farming this process out to a qualified service provider is helpful in a number of ways: you get what you need and none of what you don’t, and you get the long-term care and support provided by experts at a lower cost than trying to do it in-house. BYOD (bring your own device) often works best for employees, which means keeping track of system updates across a variety of platforms. Instead of chasing an increasingly-complicated set of goals, use the guidance of professionals to stay agile and up to date with what the market demands.