Editorial: How Much Time Do You Waste with Technology?

(Image credit: SCN)

Videoconferencing has become an indispensable part of today's business world. Too bad it's such a waste of time.

Well, maybe not the meetings themselves. In any organization, there are budgets to discuss, courses of action to debate, and corporate cultures to nourish. All these talking points can be addressed via videoconference—and with today's remote workforce, it might just be the most effective way to get through that laundry list of action items. Your results may vary.

The wasted time comes from tangling with technology. Late last year, MAXHUB shared some rather alarming research. Based on a sample size of 2,000 adults in Great Britain, almost 60% of employees admitted it can take up to 10 minutes for them to setup virtual videoconferencing technology. And before you scoff at those struggling to make the platform of the day play nice with the camera of the day, let ye among us who have not been accosted with the dreaded "You're on mute!" declaration cast the first stones.

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Back at the office, 48% of workers said user-friendly technology was the top priority when using videoconferencing to work with their off-site colleagues. Specifically, more than a third (37%) stressed the importance of a good microphone, while another 37% said hassle-free BYOD was central to hybrid success.

Here’s another nugget: 28% of respondents didn't think their company had the right technology for them to perform to the highest standard for their job (for hybrid work). The tech numbers are bad enough, but what’s arguably worse is that 23% of U.K. workers felt excluded when they remotely joined a virtual work meeting. For workers aged 18-24, that number increased to 27%.

Everyone who works remotely, even on a hybrid basis, should get a standardized satchel of tech.

I know what you’re thinking: Aren’t those whippersnappers supposed to be better with technology? Maybe they are, but they aren’t necessarily better at working from home. Maybe they’re new to the workforce and less inclined to speak up in a meeting with people who haven’t had a chance to truly engage with them. Instead, they’re just another face in a Brady Bunch video mosaic—and too young to get the Brady Bunch reference.

Tony McCool, MAXHUB's U.K. and Ireland sales manager, noted that many businesses have failed to keep pace with the AV equipment needed for the new hybrid workforce. “It is crucial that all businesses carefully assess their AV needs and the design of AV within meeting spaces,” he explained, “as when correctly undertaken, it can help employees feel empowered in their work, and in turn, drive improved performances and productivity across the business.”  

Whether you like it or not, hybrid meetings are the new normal. According to a different research study, this one from Crestron, 60% of respondents said remote participants were part of at least half of their meetings—and almost a third (30%) have at least one remote participant in all their meetings. If you don’t want employees to feel excluded when they work from home, make them feel like part of the team.

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How do you do that? A smart first step is to create a remote worker technology kit. Not only should integrators be providing these to their employees, but they should have two or three kits at various price points ready for the next bidder.

Everyone who works remotely, even on a hybrid basis, should get a standardized satchel of tech. We’re talking webcam, speakerphone, headset, lighting, and a portable USB docking station that can handle all the peripherals you provide. Standardize it all, so it’s easy to deploy, support, and replace.

To be fair, standardized technology kits will be quite the expense, depending on the size of the organization. You know what else is expensive? Replacing quality remote employees who feel disconnected from virtual meetings.

Mark J. Pescatore
Content Director

Mark J. Pescatore, Ph.D., is the content director of Systems Contractor News. He has been writing about Pro AV industry for more than 25 years. Previously, he spent more than eight years as the editor of Government Video magazine. During his career, he's produced and hosted two podcasts focused on the professional video marketplace, taught more than a dozen college communication courses, co-authored the book Working with HDV, and co-edited two editions of The Guide to Digital Television.