Video in the workplace is commonly perceived as an add-on utilized for a specific purpose or special meeting. But video has so much more to offer. It shouldn’t be seen as “special” instead, using video should be as natural and intuitive as picking up the phone, turning on a light switch, or opening an email.
More and more applications and tools are integrating video natively and pervasively as part of every interaction. As an industry, we must follow suit. Enabling the proliferation of pervasive video will enable organizations to become much more productive, as well as highly streamlined and efficient.
Video has needed to work harder to become a natural part of our communications. Several reasons for pushback exist, ranging from remote workers not wanting to be seen on screen to traditional meeting-room tools being complicated and cumbersome. To tackle these obstacles, firms need to take a top-down approach that encompasses investment in the right tools for the organization. Additionally, firms must foster a cultural shift that naturally incorporates video into every co-location communication.
These communications fall into three key categories: one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many. One-to-one encompasses weekly catch ups, ad hoc meetings, interviews, and briefings. One-to-many encompasses presentations, webinars, panel interviews, town halls, firm-wide announcements, training, and webinars. Lastly, many-to-many encompasses meetings, brainstorming sessions, and team catch-up calls.
When listed out, it becomes clear that these interactions are much more effective when done over video rather than telephone. Why? Take, for example, an interview: Being able to see the candidate’s posture, facial expressions, and gesticulations gives you a much clearer idea of who they are and how they present themselves, as well as their enthusiasm for the position. The same applies to a webinar; when presented visually, a webinar gives the audience further insight into the presenter’s expertise and passion for the subject.
When it comes to conference calls, it’s common to have people busy themselves with other background tasks. Video prevents this lack of focus, and it enables you to have an honest and complete communication with fully engaged participants. In turn, you can streamline heavily populated calls down to only those who really need to be there, which makes for obvious efficiencies.
Elsewhere, firms looking to improve both their environmental impact and general efficiency can benefit significantly from using video. Moving staff from place to place in order to attend meetings is unnecessary and wasteful. These journeys can incur significant travel costs, impact the environment, and contribute to staff fatigue. With effective video communication tools in place, such journeys are no longer necessary, which leads to productivity and opportunity improvements.
The best way to get customer buy-in is to let them try the system you’re seeking to integrate. A pilot group within an organization works well, and it quickly allows for video usage to spread throughout the organization.
Sometimes, a customer may be reluctant to significantly invest in an audiovisual system. For integrators, offering Video as a Service can overcome this hesitation. If a firm can’t budget $100,000 for audiovisual technology, an outlay of $2500 a month for an as-a-service offering may seem much more plausible. As an industry, we can change traditional CapEx investments into more manageable OpEx outlays.
Making it Happen
In order to ensure video becomes a pervasive, natural part of everyday workplace interactions, a few steps are required. First and foremost, ease of use must be the standard; there is no reason for video to be complicated. We should be able to walk into a collaboration space of any kind, flip a switch, and turn on the video. If implementation is handled correctly, this setup should be easily realized.
It’s also important to consider an organization’s holistic environment; a flashy or buzz-wordy tool won’t necessarily fit every company. For instance, an integrator may go into an opportunity that uses an entire infrastructure (switching, routing, phones, handsets, etc.) from one vendor. If that integrator implements an audiovisual setup from a different vendor—and if that second vendor has no integration point with the existing setup—the company could wind up with two disparate systems.
Solution architects have a responsibility to bring the most suitable products to their clients. They must also integrate those products effectively so that their customers can use them without needing to think. It must be intuitive.
Once the right technology is in place, it is imperative that everyone has access to it. Gone are the days when only staff at a certain level held access—video only works and becomes pervasive when everyone uses it.
Tommy Mullins is senior vice president at Onepath.