The pressure is on in workplaces around the globe to keep employees engaged, especially as remote work and hybrid scenarios become more common. Executives and employees are continually looking for ways to stay connected with team members, which can be challenging in a remote environment, even with best-in-class videoconferencing technology and virtual meeting environments available.
Organizational and meeting scientists are offering advice for how leaders can use virtual meetings in new, nontraditional ways that take advantage of quickly evolving technology. IT managers and directors need to stay involved to ensure videoconferencing hardware is capable of facilitating whatever new meeting formats team leaders can dream up.
Educational sessions don't have to disappear even though cramped conference rooms aren't commonplace anymore. By bringing in outside experts to share their knowledge, companies can unlock new ways to help employees expand their skills and advance their careers — a benefit that can also reduce employee turnover.
From a technical standpoint, these sessions don't have to be demanding in terms of the videoconferencing infrastructure needed, though there are tactics that are becoming popular to make one-to-many meeting formats more inclusive and participatory.
The key is making settings in these tools easy to navigate so participants can do things like go into a no-video "podcast mode" together before a session starts or change their profile photo or name to support connection and interaction. Make sure chat functionality is flexible and robust to handle all-at-once usage when hosts call for feedback and ideas related to their presentation.
An important component of team engagement is making sure the right people are coming through the door or joining the team remotely. Effective hiring is even more important as workers change jobs more frequently. Videoconferencing should be used in every phase of the hiring process for remote candidates and early screening interviews. Thanks to the availability of high-quality videoconferencing technology that features 4K ultra-HD cameras and beam-steering microphones for clear video and sound, companies can create a strong impression with candidates right from the start.
For deep-stage candidates who may receive multiple offers, it also helps to sell the workplace and culture. IT leaders should work with HR to create video assets that capture the people and place in the best way possible. This goes well beyond screen sharing; presenters can also offer a live, on-the-go virtual tour that doesn't feel planned and prefabricated, giving potential hires a candid look at the people they'll spend their workdays with.
Identifying opportunities for employees to engage with and shape company culture can boost morale, celebrate and inspire creativity, and allow team members to connect beyond the daily tasks. This is more important than ever to support employee retention in the age of the Great Resignation.
Teams can use videoconferencing tech in novel ways to meet, stretch their minds and share their talents. This can include uniting representatives from different departments around a videoconference whiteboard to brainstorm culture-building opportunities. It can take the form of online performance art sessions where employees share music, art, writing or other talents to interact with colleagues in a new way. Monthly or quarterly company virtual showcases can highlight recent successes or upcoming projects, allowing teams to celebrate one another's work. In any form, ensuring the technology can provide the quality video, audio and lighting to support these opportunities is crucial to their success.
Voice-to-text transcription is perhaps the most commonly used artificial intelligence capability in the current remote video landscape, but IT leaders have so much more to take advantage of to improve their videoconferencing technology for successful employee communication.
From natural language processing tools that can sharpen a speaker's voice, to stabilization capabilities, to chatbots and other AI virtual assistants, there are exciting options that can make meetings far more productive and engaging.
Virtual reality continues to take off and represents the next great frontier of videoconferencing technology. The headsets that serve as the convening point of VR will have to integrate easily with existing assets for videoconferencing, and IT leaders will have to select compatible hardware that will work broadly with as many emerging platforms and tools as possible.
This may seem like an "out there" and far-off possibility, but major players are looking for the strongest apps and use cases to make meetings and collaboration sessions more productive in VR settings. That means the day is coming when VR will become as commonplace as live video is now, which will open up new possibilities and advancements in what this technology can deliver.