Are businesses realizing they can all work remotely?

Businesses are realizing that with the right tech, a distributed workforce can work.
3 April 2020

Cluttered office space could become a thing of the past. Source: AFP

It was not too long ago that video conferencing usage was still in its infancy, treated as a separate communication tool from all the other, more commonly-used tools such as email, memos, instant messaging platforms, and workplace productivity apps.

Now, as remote working has become the norm (at least for the foreseeable future), the need to discuss things face-to-face, collaborate in teams, and just ‘check in’, has accelerated the understanding, and practical use of so-called unified communications (UC) platforms.

UC platforms are shared collaborative environments, providing a space for inter-office chats and meetings. Over time, additional remote team working tools have been added such as VOIP calling, co-authoring and shared documentation, displaying and editing presentations, and other project collaboration features.

While video conferencing usage has exploded overnight, it’s an expected result of business’s overall adaptability – ensuring things do go on to function ‘as usual’, if only to varying degrees.

In a recent blog, Joseph Sarrasin, Unified Communications Strategy Director for Crestron, said the current crisis may have demonstrated just how ready businesses are for new, distributed working arrangements, thanks in good part to the tech available.

In fact, video conferencing and UC platforms could be a marked improvement over physical meetings, as participants can actively collaborate on content in real-time wherever they are in the world. That’s opposed to a traditional boardroom meeting, where one person takes the lead and everyone else carries out their action items at a later point.

Since these tools swiftly entered the limelight and businesses were forced to use them firsthand, Sarrasin believes there is no going back. He expects video meeting room usage to skyrocket in coming quarters as the remote working phase continues, and especially given the promise of 5G connectivity.

That won’t neccessarily mean we begin to lose offices altogether – more that the boundaries between a virtual and physical workspace begin to overlap.

‘Smart’ building technology will continue to become commonplace, with AI-driven software able to schedule meeting rooms, improving the meeting environment with lighting and temperature control, and eventually even “listening” to the meeting’s audio and transcribing it into meeting minutes.

These systems could integrate with our virtual meeting tools, ensuring those remotely are locked into the goings on at a physical base.

Video conferencing and UC is experiencing a worldwide renaissance as necessity drives its adoption. As we all witness how much this technology can make our businesses agile, collaborative, and efficient, it seems it is all moving towards a bigger, more seamless work environment in the coming years.