We’ve all been there: flicking through the phone, struggling to focus. Straining to understand the crackling voice and stuttering screen share. In fact, there are hundreds of millions of meetings over videoconferencing facilities each month, yet for each of those meetings, 47% of participants say they don’t speak at all1.
You might think there’s nothing new about ineffective meetings and disengaged participants – and you’d be right.
In fact, while Zoom, Teams and Google Meet have changed lots about how our meetings look, and while technical challenges can make sessions tricky, they haven’t changed much about how our meetings work.
It’s time to end the era of meeting madness.
The waste-of-time meeting is as old as business itself. And for many firms, digital meeting platforms started life as a necessary evil: a replacement for in-person chats, when distance (and then COVID-19) made them the only practicable option.
In seeing unified collaboration platforms as a one-for-one replacement, businesses may miss the opportunity to create a big cultural and technological shift around meetings that not only tackles videoconferencing fatigue but also levels the playing field. Making sure that brilliant introverts can share their ideas more freely, and that those in HQ, satellite offices and at home can contribute equally.
Let’s get personal.
The old symbol of the meeting? An intimidating, stiff boardroom table. Today, that symbol looks very different: the individual face, framed on a laptop, mobile or conference room screen encapsulates the modern workplace.
It’s time to refocus, seeing meetings not as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ obligation, but as a customised experience. Building a framework of tech around each person and their needs, which can move with them wherever they are – and help them contribute on their terms, however they work best.
So, what can you do to make this possible?
AI to the rescue.
The good news is, things are already changing. Many videoconferencing platforms are introducing new features to help your people stay focused remotely.
AI can ‘read the room’, working out what sort of meeting you’re having and tailoring your view to draw your eye to the most relevant elements. Plus, you can use more manual features like ‘spotlighting’ to foreground different speakers, so everyone gets a voice.
To make the most of these features, and bridge the divide between home and office, consider smart devices and room kits designed specifically for the platform you use.
Ending ‘Zoom’ fatigue.
Smarter tech can also help put the brain-fog and fatigue of endless online meetings in the past.
Researchers have found that videoconferencing is highly draining because it means excessive up-close eye contact, reduced mobility and difficulty reading non-verbal signals.1
To solve this, new AI-powered cameras like the Lenovo ThinkSmart Cam – at home and in the office – can help replicate natural eye movement, focusing on the relevant speaker in a big room and giving a much higher-resolution view of individuals at home, so everyone can read body language. Plus, with whiteboard recognition and speaker tracking, meeting-goers have the freedom to roam, brainstorm and make a cup of coffee, without missing a beat.
Tech alone can’t do it all.
Yes, the right tools are essential, whether it’s giving voice to the quietest of speakers, with smart sound bars – or making it easier for remote workers to conference with new accessories. But what if your people don’t know which swish AI features they can use, and your IT teams struggle to keep things seamless?
Increasingly, top businesses are building the right skills and racing to best practice ahead of competitors with ‘Collaboration as a Service.’ It means they can lean on experts like Lenovo to assess their needs, deploy the best tech, train their people, maintain their systems and respond onsite. Whether you go this route or not, you’ll need to ease the burden on IT teams with software that makes it easy to manage all remote and office collaboration as one.
And what if your managers still promote on ‘proximity’?
Of course, you’ll need to set the right cultural tone for hybrid work, with policies that include everyone. Explore tips on doing that in our checklist for meeting equity.
Will you make flexible working work?
Find out how to deliver what your IT department needs, and what your users want. Plus, how to streamline and simplify your infrastructure while increasing productivity for your people. Explore resources for enterprise flexible working here.
1 Cited in: Ramachandran, Vignesh, “Stanford researchers identify four cases of ‘Zoom fatigue’ and their simple fixes”, Stanford News, February 2021