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Video first: The future of workforce engagement

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(Image credit: Image Credit: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock)

We’ve all heard the question: “Is video really the new dial tone?” At this point, the use of video for calls or conferencing is no longer considered a new tool in the workplace and has become much less intimidating for a broader set of workers than ever before. While it certainly has seen its fair share of pushback over the years from users who don’t feel comfortable on video, it is becoming more ubiquitous and ingrained in company cultures as users and business leaders alike begin to understand its value in enhancing engagement and productivity. In fact, a majority of U.S. employees now leverage video as a means to break down the barriers of proximity and ensure that they use face-to-face communication as an organic way to build relationships and get work done.

Now that video enabled communication is increasingly an expectation for the working world, it is setting a new standard for employee engagement. The use of video has become so commonplace that it is ushering in an entirely new wave of cutting-edge tools, from telepresence robots to holoportation enabled by virtual reality, that push the envelope on how we collaborate at work.

The power of video in communications and team collaboration

Over the years, the use of video has witnessed pushback from users who have traditionally viewed it as counter productive. Historically, most meetings that leveraged video conferencing would start more than five to ten minutes late as the solutions were too complicated for a typical worker. These solutions were complex and costly investments. However, in recent years, video calling and conferencing has seen an uptick as it has become more accessible, easy to use, and simple to deploy at the enterprise-level. Employers and employees alike have also begun to understand its value, especially now that distributed work has become more commonplace. Today, 77 per cent of workers expect companies to offer the option to work outside of the office. As the nature of work continues to be oriented around group projects, the demand for group video and team collaboration is predicted to increase, according to many analyst firms.

Increased Engagement: According to a recent report from Fuze, video conferencing has been shown to improve employee engagement in meetings by twelve per cent compared to meetings when a visual element is not used.

Better Communication: Video conferencing doesn’t just encourage meeting attendees to stay connected for longer, it enables better communication by conveying nonverbal and emotional cues like eye-contact and body language that would otherwise be left out in an audio call. Anywhere between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of communication is nonverbal. Without video, users are missing a large portion of the conversation. According to a Forbes Insights survey, 62 per cent of executives agree that video conferencing dramatically enhances communication compared to audio-only meetings.

Connection Between Distributed Teams: Video conferencing decreases the distance between distributed teams, encouraging face-to-face interaction, creating trust and building stronger interpersonal relationships.

It is just the beginning

Accessibility to meeting virtually face-to-face is accelerating. While the market has been maturing, innovation in connectivity outside the workplace allows us to imagine a near future where audio-only communication is the exception, not the norm. If 90 per cent of communication is non-verbal, then what are we missing when we can’t meet in person or over video?

Advances with 5G and the emergence of intelligence driven technologies and environments will pave the way for richer interaction and the ability to more closely replicate physical proximity when it’s not otherwise practical. 

Similar to how email revolutionised communications, using video will continue to become the new normal more broadly in workplace engagement. In addition to expanding distributed work culture, using video has sparked the imagination of workplace innovators to broaden the capabilities of video-based communications.

What if using video could be even more effective than meeting in-person? Artificial intelligence is being used to enhance the video conference experience to do just that. For instance, if you’re in a video conference with 10 other people in the room, AI can automatically reframe the shot or focus in on someone who stands up or starts speaking, eliminating the distractions that typically come with face-to-face meetings. AI also holds the potential for cutting out logistical tasks, such as creating action items following a meeting, translating multiple languages, or turning meeting minutes in to a searchable and consumable asset for other use cases.

Telepresence is another realm where video conferencing is being taken to the next level. Companies like Ava Robotics and iRobot have developed telepresence robots that enable workers to navigate a remote location without having a physical presence. Ava has introduced a completely autonomous robot that lets users navigate a remote space without having to drive it by hand. Not only does this pave the way for new use cases in the office, but imagine the value for collaboration in the field or for empowering new use cases for frontline workers.

The advent of video in the workplace in mainstream culture has more than just improved day-to-day communication among users, it has forced workers to rethink the way they engage with one another and inspired an entire generation of entrepreneurs who are reimagining how we define both work and the workplace as we all look to compete for talent and business in the next wave of the economy.

Eric Hanson, VP of market intelligence, Fuze