Three ways to improve your virtual meetings – from Gartner

Spending your days on Zoom? Gartner shares some secrets for a successful and productive meeting online.
22 April 2020

Video call is the new form of communication for businesses globally. Source: Shutterstock

  • Business-wide access to high-speed internet connectivity is no sure thing
  • Cases of hacks in videoconferencing are on the rise
  • Gartner reveals tips on how to stay secure and productive until lockdowns lift

Video conferencing – once the usual reserve of international office meetings or client calls – has become the go-to means of staying connected today, with business workforces now homebound and scattered.

Whether it’s Zoom, Teams, GoToMeeting, or otherwise, these tools are serving as lifelines to a (near) sense of normality. But important though they area, even video conferencing tools have their flaws, ushering in a new source of stress for today’s already-overburdened IT teams.

“The rise in virtual meetings since the COVID-19 pandemic began is putting pressure on enterprise leaders to ensure employees have the right technological capabilities to maintain consistent, high-quality connections with colleagues, customers, and partners while working remotely,” said Senior research director at Gartner, Mike Fasciani.

With that in mind, here are three ways to enhance your virtual meeting experience.

Closing the gap in internet disparity 

Somewhere in the swift transition to remote working, companies may have deployed an enterprise-grade teleconferencing and collaboration tool, but the workers using it probably won’t have an enterprise-grade internet connection.

Staff will likely also be sharing bandwidth with family, partners or room-mates – who could also be working, if not streaming videos or playing online games – putting extra pressure on connections and increasingly likely to lead to disrupted connectivity.

If internet connectivity proves a challenge, switching to mobile data usage may be a better solution for uninterrupted calls. As many of the stated teleconferencing and collaboration tools embrace a mobile-first design, running the applications on the phone may entail a more seamless and smooth experience.

Last month, Trump signed two new 5G laws that are set to broaden and expand internet coverage across rural areas in the US. Across the Atlantic, one of the UK 2020 budget mandates is a £5 billion (US$6.15 billion) commitment to roll out light-speed broadbands to remote areas. 

These efforts could soon lead to much faster home internet connections, which will become crucial if businesses decide to adopt remote working going forward. 

Be your own digital meeting bouncer

The proliferation of hacks and ransomware targeted at popular video conferencing tools have been the talk of the business tech community, and have prompted enterprises to take extra precaution while working online and remotely from in-house IT support.

Receiving thousands of installs each day, for example, Zoom attracted the attention of cybercriminals who are packaged malware into legitimate Zoom installers in order to infect users’ devices with malicious programs. 

Meanwhile, Zoom was in the firing line for its dubious privacy policy, that led to vulnerabilities in which supposedly private meetings could be crashed upon and interrupted.

Fasciani of Gartner shared several best practices that remote workers can adopt to minimize risks of falling prey to cybercrime.

“Simple steps, like using a separate host passcode, randomizing meeting IDs and requiring that participants register for the meeting service before joining the call, can go a long way in ensuring online meetings remain private,” Fasciani stated.

Meeting agenda

In efforts to keep business working as normal, organizations are relying on regular meetings to both confer on mission-critical projects and simply catch up with colleagues.

report by Wundamail revealed excessive virtual meetings could cost organizations more than US$1,250 per employee of wasted time each month. Furthermore, 42 percent of remote workers stated they are most productive when engaged in work for an extended period of uninterrupted time.

Fasciani remarked the validity of ‘meeting overdrive’ spurred by the new normality of mass remote working; however, business leaders should be mindful and tactical of the quantity and quality of virtual meetings.

“Managers should poll their team to determine the degree of meeting overload that they’re experiencing, and then experiment with one or two interventions focused on type, quality, formality or cadence to improve meeting experiences.”

In this light, the discussed aspects are major considerations of many organizations and it enables employers and employees to reevaluate the values and cultures driven by remote working to boost productivity amid an ongoing pandemic.