Five years ago, calling a meeting meant booking a meeting room and gathering the team in the same place at the same time. If you were lucky, everyone would show up early to allow the meeting to start at the designated time but this wasn’t always true. In person, it is easier for the conversation to go astray, resulting in meetings that weren’t as productive as they could have been. But when these meetings went well, they were the result of the team bouncing ideas off one another collaboratively, reacting to one another’s non-verbal cues, and being able to brainstorm together.
Three years ago, meetings looked a lot different as we were thrust into a new normal out of necessity when the pandemic lockdowns required a new modus operandi. Instead of a designated meeting room, we met virtually in whatever rooms of our individual homes had the best broadband connection. Rather than sharing a table, we shared our screens. Conversations were peppered with phrases like “You’re on mute,” and “Let’s pick this up offline.” It was not uncommon for interruptions from pets or frozen webcams. While it was a bit more difficult to read non-verbal cues through our computer screens, these meetings tended to cut right to the chase and make the most of the time allotted.
Both iterations of the meeting had their pros and cons, but here we are in 2023 having to navigate another new normal that asks us to blend the best of both to maximise productivity and efficiency. Research from Embryo found that 30% of full-time UK employees are working a hybrid working schedule, which means that at any given time, one third of a business’s workforce might be remote. Just as we adapted our working styles to suit hybrid models, the meeting too must change. But what might that look like?
The Future of In-Person Meetings
The lockdowns made staff much choosier about how they spend their time, especially during their in-office days. Rather than wasting time in formal and stuffy meetings, staff are leaning towards more informal, relaxed sessions with their teammates. As a result, we are seeing businesses reworking their office spaces to support this with more casual collaborative spaces rather than formal meeting rooms. They’re introducing new furniture and tools such as the Nobo Move and Meet range of mobile whiteboards and noticeboards that can be wheeled anywhere in the office to create a meeting space wherever inspiration strikes. In-person meetings are much more organic and much less structured, giving way for more creativity and collaboration.
The Future of Virtual
During the lockdowns, we were much more understanding about little interruptions, technical difficulties, and other video call quirks. We were all finding our footing and making it work under challenging circumstances. Now, there is less excuse for bad quality video meetings now that we have had plenty of time to adjust. Some businesses have provided stipends to their staff to upgrade their home working setups and levelling up one’s video conferencing kit will certainly be a part of that. Kensington, one of the most trusted names in workplace and computer accessories, have leaned into this trend by offering end users a range of advanced audio and visual equipment for better video conferencing. The range was developed with the hybrid worker in mind and to work seamlessly with platforms like Zoom and Teams. It includes high-definition webcams that capture video in 1080p, ring lights for studio-like lighting, and flexible mounting systems to ensure you always have the best angle. For audio, the range includes noise cancelling headsets and an innovative 3-in-1 audio headset switch to solve the “You’re on mute” issue quickly.
Blending Both Formats
Of course, in the hybrid world of work, teams are unlikely to exclusively meet one way or the other. It is more likely that their working lives will involve a blend of both in-person and virtual meetings moving forward. At times, the two formats may intersect. As mentioned, on any given day it is likely that one third of the team may be remote depending on the organisation’s hybrid schedule. Therefore, businesses and their people are having to bridge the gap between locations by ensuring they have the right tools for the task wherever they may be. This will require upgrades to audio and visual technology to ensure a seamless connection that enables remote staff to feel just as present and involved as their in-office colleagues. Audio and visual tools that are compact, lightweight, and portable will be especially attractive to the hybrid worker, enabling them to join a meeting from home, the office, or even a café. In-person and virtual staff will have a much easier time collaborating effectively without annoying and time-wasting technical difficulties.
To learn more about Kensington’s range of video conferencing solutions contact us today.