To get the most out of hybrid meetings, follow these best practices to manage audio and video performance, and ensure a high-quality meeting experience.
By Irwin Lazar, Metrigy Research
Published: 13 May 2021
The workplace will not look as it did before the COVID-19 pandemic, with only 12% of organizations planning a full-time return to the office, according to Metrigy's "Workplace Collaboration: 2021-22" global study of more than 475 organizations. Less than a quarter of organizations are planning on returning employees using meetings rooms as they did before the pandemic. The hybrid workplace is the future. To achieve success in this new environment, business and IT leaders must plan for a future in which hybrid meetings, composed of those in and out of the office, are the norm rather than the exception. Here are five hybrid meeting best practices to ensure success.
1. Ubiquitous video conferencing in all meeting spaces. No longer is it acceptable for remote attendees to only have access to audio conferencing in which they can't see other participants or what is written on whiteboards and are largely in listen-only mode. To ensure that all participants can engage with one another, regardless of location, companies must invest in ensuring that all meeting spaces are equipped with high-quality video conferencing systems. These systems should ideally support multiple meeting applications for both internal and external meetings. Metrigy's research showed that 61.2% of organizations with the highest ROI or productivity benefits for their collaboration investments are increasing video conferencing room system deployments, while less than half of organizations with low or no measured collaboration investment benefits plan to do the same.
2. Go beyond video. Video conferencing is great to ensure all meeting participants can see one another, but it doesn't address the need for ideation during meetings or replace the physical in-room whiteboard. To deliver these additional hybrid meeting capabilities, organizations must invest in virtual whiteboard tools from vendors such as Bluescape, Hoylu, Lucidworks, Miro and Mural. Business and IT leaders must plan for a future in which hybrid meetings, composed of those in and out of the office, are the norm rather than the exception. These apps are designed to enable meeting participants to capture and share ideas and content -- not just during the meeting, but before and after to provide a continual canvas for ideation. Many of these tools also integrate with meeting and team collaboration apps to provide a more seamless meeting experience and collaboration in the context of persistent team channels.
3. Address meeting fatigue. Approximately 34% of research participants said their employees are experiencing meeting fatigue from large numbers of video calls. Unlike audio conferences, video requires more active participation and participants to stay in a fixed position during the duration of the meeting. Some approaches companies are using to combat meeting fatigue include shortening meetings from an hour to 45 minutes, encouraging scheduling of shorter meetings, allowing participants to turn cameras off, limiting the number of daily meetings, mandating breaks between meetings and implementing meeting-free days. Most organizations don't plan to have employees return to the office full time.
4. Improve the personal experience. The last year has seen new capabilities to improve audio and video experiences -- often powered by AI. Vendors such as Cisco, Logitech and Poly have all introduced devices designed for home or office desktops that compensate for background light, reduce noise and better frame meeting participants. Less than half of research participants said the capabilities built into laptops are sufficient for high-quality meeting experiences, so deploying these devices can improve audio and video quality.
5. Invest in management and analytics. Achieving high-quality hybrid meeting experiences requires visibility into audio and video performance, as well as the ability to identify and address performance issues in both the home and the office. It also requires analytics that measure meeting engagement to identify problems that negatively affect meeting experiences. While meeting and endpoint vendors offer their own analytics tools, capabilities delivered by third-party performance management companies can integrate reporting of both network and application performance for a more holistic view. The reality, going forward, is that hybrid meetings will be the norm rather than the exception. Proactively plan now to improve video experiences, enable ideation, address meeting fatigue, and implement management and analytics to achieve engaging, successful meetings for all participants.