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The divergent development of remote meetings and the digital workplace

There is no questioning that digital tools have become an ubiquitous part of the contemporary workplace. They have evolved from mere conveniences to foundational elements of day-to-day business, tied together in an ecosystem of data — from payroll to collaboration software, and everything in between.

These technologies have allowed us to spread out across geographies, becoming increasingly mobile, and flexible in our expectations of where and how work gets done. However, there are still times when real-time, person-to-person communications are necessary.

Due to this reality, we’ve seen the digital workplace and remote meetings move along a similar trajectory but with very different evolutions.

In a recent white paper on Remote Meetings in the Digital Workplace, we take a comparative look at the development of both over the last ten years. Where the digital workplace of a decade ago looks almost nothing like it’s current counterpart, remote meetings have seen very little change at all.

A decade ago, the digital workplace was a fledgling concept, whereas now it’s filtered into almost every aspect of day-to-day business needs. In the paper, we look at how “[t]he rise of the internet has led to a proliferation of cloud collaboration tools, some, of course, better than others,” and how because of this, people are able to choose between numerous best-in-breed options and tailor their experience.

Yet, in contrast, the landscape today for remote meetings looks not that far off from the previous ten years. Most still dial into “audio-only conference calls” while continuing to deal with any number of common frustrations: not knowing who’s on the line or who’s talking, distracting background noise, or wasting time trying to set up screen sharing.

So, why is this?

Two elements play into how remote meetings have progressed: a one-size-fits-some approach and user adoption.

As technology has developed, many communications tools come with a “laundry list of features” that have been jammed into one product intended at its core to provide just one task — connecting two people in real-time because are unable to be in the same physical space. While these ‘extras’ can be of interest to the specialist users and trainers, they are often too bulky and cumbersome for the day-to-day user.

The majority of users, need only a foundational offering of quality capabilities that will perform well when then need them, how they need them. The rest they can do without. This is where the complication comes in.

It’s all well and good if the tools in use have extra functions, but if you have to spend more than a minute downloading a labor-intensive plugin every time you are going to share your screen on a call — and you share your screen on almost every call — what good do those extra bells and whistles do you in the end?

So our day-to-day users scrap the lofty-minded tool for something safer and less prone to embarrassing glitches or non-starters.

Conference call tools need to be built to meet the basic needs for getting important day-to-day business accomplished, easily. That is their primary function. Moreover, they need to do this in a reliable and intuitive way for the average business user.

As remote meetings focus on these fundamental needs, and excel at them, we will see an evolutionary climb more on course with the digital workplace.

Read our white paper, “Remote Meetings in the Digital Workplace” for more on the subject.

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