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Cloud AV to accelerate ROI and improve virtual meetings in the WFH era

The COVID-19 Pandemic, along with extreme weather conditions, civil unrest and other disruptive events are shaping how businesses operate and how people work on a global scale.

Employees need to be engaged and productive, from an office, meeting room, at home or out on the road, with connectivity between all employees throughout an organisation essential for future business gains.

Now, research carried out by industry analysts Frost & Sullivan for a new White Paper: ‘7 Steps To Improve Meetings In The New Era Of Work’, addresses the key factors for successful collaboration, including:

  • Prioritise Cloud Conferencing Service Adaption
  • Upgrade Meeting Room Technology for the New Era of Work
  • Improve Collaboration with Audio for All
  • Instil Confidence and Boost Productivity with Seamless Audio
  • Drive Meeting Room Effectiveness with Best-In-Class Audio
  • Adopt an Ecosystem Approach
  • Focus on Ownership, Experience, Standardisation and Interoperability

The report, augmented by global market leading audio manufacturer Shure’s ‘Future of Conferencing’ survey, reveals how IT and business leaders are future-proofing organisations, with technologies being replaced due to various factors within individual businesses:

  • Quality and reliability – 35%
  • Security concerns – 34%
  • Limited interoperability with 3rd party solutions – 26%
  • Lack of the latest features and capabilities – 25%

The world has shifted to flexible, cloud-based deployment and consumption models with richer functionality, with a broad range of communication applications to choose from.

However, without the foundation of any meeting, audio, no meeting can actually take place:

  • 95% of meeting rooms have minimal technology
  • 83% of professionals depend on technology to conduct meetings and collaborate.
  • 87% of professionals are frustrated and stressed due to technology failures in meeting rooms.

Expected proliferation of distributed work is among the top factors causing organisations to re-think their meeting rooms, with 82% of managers expecting flexible work from him polices post-pandemic.

Top Drivers for Technology Investments:

  • Improve teamwork – 35%
  • Improve information management – 32%
  • Improve customer experience – 31%
  • Improve operational cost – 29%
  • Improve marketing effectiveness – 29%
  • Boost creativity and innovation – 28%
  • Accelerate decision making – 26%

“Once offices reopen, health and well-being regulations will require employees to have minimal contact with shared surfaces. Therefore, there will be a great demand for touch-less conferencing,” explained Robert Arnold, Principal Analyst, Connected Work, Frost & Sullivan. “As enterprises build a robust conferencing ecosystem, the adoption of A/V technologies that aid simple deployment, intuitive operation, and seamless compatibility with leading collaboration platforms will experience significant growth.”

Jim Schanz, Vice President, Global Integrated Systems Sales at Shure, said, “To optimize audio performance in rooms connected to any conferencing service as well as to streamline room audio management, organizations must emphasize standardization of certified audio devices. As no meeting can be effective without quality audio, investing in a scalable infrastructure can position businesses of any size for greater success as they battle evolving market factors.”

Click here to read the full report.

Five tips for leading teams remotely

If you’ve always managed a team based in the same location as you, moving from an office-based team to having some or all of your team working remotely can be a significant transition.

As so many businesses in the UK are now offering their employees remote and home working options, UK IT managed services company, TSG, are here to share some practical advice for leading remote teams and protecting productivity.

  1. Keep in touch regularly

This sounds kind of obvious, right? It’s easy to forget, though, and it’s so important.

Make sure you contact your team every day, whether you have a stand-up-type call at the start of the day or more informal chats through the day. If we go an entire day without seeing or talking to our team, we can begin to feel disconnected and isolated. You could even introduce ‘watercooler’ calls – encouraging your team to join you on video conferences with their cuppas and chat for 15 mins about anything and everything. The likes of Microsoft Teams channels can be ideal for sharing non-work related topics that might interest everyone.

  1. Turn your video on!

And encourage your team to do the same. This might not work for everyone all of the time, but as you’re likely looking at your workforce operating remotely for a significant period of time, this helps you mimic face-to-face meetings. It’s easier to read colleagues’ reactions and convey your sentiment if you’re able to see each other. If you’re worried about the messy bookshelf/sofa/room behind you, use the magic background blur button on Teams so that your colleagues will only see you.

  1. Pick up the phone

If you have an important question or need to delegate something urgent to a member of your team, call your colleague rather than emailing or instant messaging. If they’re busy and you need to get on, set a pop-up reminder to tell you when they are back online or are available – this is standard functionality within Microsoft Teams.

That’s not to say instant messaging doesn’t have a place; messaging your team throughout the day with less critical items or if you’re unable to make a call is another essential way to ensure you’re regularly touching base with your team.

  1. Be focused and available

Even remotely, it’s noticeable to your team when you’re not focused or if you’re distracted. Even if you think you look available and online, your colleagues will be able to tell if you’re not as focused or productive as usual. That said, we’re all more productive when we take regular breaks, and this is even more important when working from home. If you’re taking a break, let your team know by setting a message in your status to let them know when you’ll be back online.

  1. Make sure your team members have everything they need

Many companies are now using Microsoft Teams for conference calls, instant messaging, collaborating and sharing documents, as well as using Microsoft Planner for organising and managing our productivity. Whatever solution you choose to use, make sure your team is familiar with using it and that your people have everything they need to access your business solutions from home. This could come in the form of cloud-based solutions like Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, or using a VPN to access your on-premises business-critical systems.

Article produced by Natasha Bougourd from TSG, a managed IT services company with locations around the UK, specialising in IT support and solutions, security and applications including Office 365 and Sage.