The video conferencing era has arrived. As organisations prepare for a new hybrid normal that enables people to tune into meetings from a mix of onsite and offsite locations, video conferencing is here to stay, but the requirements have evolved.
As the world cautiously opens up, what equipment will your organisation need to set up spaces that are COVID-safe and take new remote working trends into account? And how can the latest in video conferencing technology help?
Reimagining collaboration spaces
What will collaboration look like when the COVID-19 pandemic ends? It’s been a topic of great debate over the last year, and it’s becoming increasingly apparent that we won’t quite be going back to the business as usual of 2019 where meeting in person was the norm. We simply don’t need to. Video conferencing technology is now sophisticated enough that communication can work just as well remotely, and many people have found great benefits from not having to travel to a designated meeting space. According to figures from Capgemini Research Institute, 70% of organisations believe that the productivity gains of remote working are sustainable beyond the pandemic. Which means that many organisations will likely end up with a hybrid working setup.
The challenge now will be ensuring that organisations and institutions have the right office and technology setup to support this. According to further research by the Capgemini Research Institute, 67% of employees want their organisation to restructure open spaces in offices into collaboration spaces. If remote working trends also continue, this means these spaces will have to cater to both onsite and offsite meeting participants. If video conferencing is going to become the norm, then organisations can no longer get away with having remote workers struggling with poor equipment and feeling as though they’ve been forgotten on the other end of the call. If remote learning is going to work in the long-term, then it needs to be a two-way street with as much interaction and participation available to those in the room as behind the screen.
Enabling equal participation
When meetings are entirely remote, with every participant using a video conferencing platform to log in, there’s a certain level of equality. Everyone might feel frustrated by a drop in connection or the awkwardness of people talking over each other, but no one person is going to feel isolated. Once meetings move to a mix of virtual and in-person communication, organisations must ensure their video conferencing solutions are good enough to help those joining virtually feel as much a part of the conversation as those in the room.
Key to this is video conferencing technology that feels as natural as possible, and solves many of the pain points people have struggled with over the last year. For example, ‘Zoom fatigue’ has become a real issue for many. It’s not necessarily about the number of virtual meetings, but how draining those conversations can be if the technology isn’t up to scratch.
Often pain points like these can lead to camera-off cultures, where virtual meetings are run as audio only due to issues with poor video quality. Again, this might be more practical when everyone is remote, but what happens when you have five people physically in a room and one dialling with audio only? Will they get sidelined? It’s much harder to dismiss or forget your virtual participants if you can see them on screen. There’s also evidence to suggest that video calls are more effective in general – according to Aragon Research, video meetings are 40% more productive than audio only. Having the camera on helps the conversation feel as natural as possible, as long as the video-quality is good enough.
One solution leading the way is the Jabra PanaCast 50, the world’s first new-normal-ready intelligent video bar. The PanaCast 50 combines premium audio and video to facilitate conversations that feel as natural as being there in person. It has a 180° field-of-view to keep everyone in the picture, and impressive professional audio which uses eight beamforming microphones, four stereo speakers and noise cancellation. The PanaCast 50 effectively takes on the role of the “director” of your meeting – intelligently adjusting the video stream to follow the action in the meeting. The Virtual Director feature uses both AI-based video and audio streams, as well as Jabra’s proprietary AI algorithms, to automatically adjust the frame according to what’s happening in the meeting. This allows Jabra PanaCast 50 to detect active speakers and the flow of conversation, which delivers a remote meeting experience that’s fully immersive and responsive. Additionally, live whiteboard streaming also helps facilitate two-way conversations and interaction – whether that's in an educational or office environment.
The Jabra PanaCast 50 is complemented by the Jabra PanaCast 20, which helps transform the experience for those at the other end of the call. This flexible, AI edge-powered camera is designed for an intelligent and secure personal collaboration experience in the new normal, using technology such as Intelligent Zoom to focus and Intelligent Light Optimization to help regulate background lighting, as well as integrated Jabra Speak or Jabra Evolve2 professional audio.
Keeping up with the times
There’s no doubt now that the pandemic has accelerated the transformation of work, and flexibility is one of the biggest recurring themes here. As we emerge from the mandated lockdowns, each organisation is going to have its own plan for what collaboration will look like going forward – and many will be trialling not just new ways of working but different technologies too.
In 2019, many people probably hadn’t heard of Zoom. Now, it is part of everyday vocabulary and synonymous with video conferencing. According to Business Insider, there were 30 times more active Zoom users in April 2020 compared to December 2019. Microsoft Teams has also taken off as a leading platform, reaching 115 million daily active users in October 2020. What this growth shows is both the sharp rise of video conferencing, but also the potential for platforms to take off quickly. This means organisations will need a degree of flexibility in their technology, investing in products that will stand the test of time. Jabra’s PanaCast 50 and 20 are platform-agnostic, so it doesn’t matter whether Teams, Zoom, Google Meet or another video conferencing application is currently leading the way.
Another way organisations must keep up with the times is COVID-safety, which is likely to be a requirement for the foreseeable future. Organisations must have systems in place to ensure spaces are used appropriately and that participants are meeting safely. Jabra’s PanaCast 50 is designed with this in mind. The 180° field-of-view allows meeting participants to sit at a safe distance while still remaining in the frame. Safety Capacity and Room Usage Insights generate anonymous room occupancy data, and the intelligent PeopleCount feature helps keep an eye on meeting room capacity. For convenience and security, organisations can also deploy and manage meetings remotely with Jabra Direct and Xpress, and edge AI processing provides an additional layer of security.
A new normal for collaboration is firmly on its way. Embrace it through cutting-edge immersive video and sound that facilitates natural and productive conversations, however you decide to work and on whatever platform you decide to use.
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