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Making Room for Improvement in Hybrid Meetings

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Image: Andriy Popov - Alamy Stock Photo
In a recent No Jitter post, my colleague Dana Casielles provided an update on some product releases from Logitech and Poly — the former focusing on improving the video you can get of people in meeting rooms; the latter providing improvements to meeting room management systems. These are just the latest examples of how dealing with the meeting room is likely to be a big part of IT/communications professionals’ jobs in the next phase of the hybrid work evolution.
 
Meeting rooms are a key part of the vision of hybrid work, as the office is increasingly seen as a place for in-person gathering and collaboration first and foremost — evolving from its traditional role as the place where essentially everything happens, and almost everyone is present basically all the time. Of course, offices will continue to have many different spaces, but meeting rooms may well be the most important in the future.
 
So, what’s the IT/communications professional’s role in realizing the future of the meeting room? A few ideas have already gained wide acceptance, starting with the notion of meeting equity.
 
Meeting equity begins with the assumption that just about every meeting is a candidate for being hybrid — a combination of individuals using desktop video, groups located in video-enabled meeting rooms, and potentially those participating via mobile devices. Equity means everyone in a meeting should be able to see and be seen clearly and have access to the same kinds of information and shared resources as their colleagues, regardless of their location or device. AI will be a crucial element in improving conferencing systems to respond to these needs, as Casielles demonstrated in her post.
 
Meeting room management is another concept that’s crucial to the success of the hybrid office. And here, a big challenge is that the new ideas around hybrid work are likely to change the dynamics of meeting room usage.
 
Pre-pandemic, many employees’ big challenge was just getting into a meeting room. Lots more people worked in the office — and it was an open-office design, so any meeting that required any privacy at all needed a room. More people were on-site competing to use the meeting room, and their need for the room was greater.
 
In the new world of hybrid work, many of those employees just won’t be in the office as much, if at all. But when they do come in, they may be there specifically to participate in meetings, which a team or department might be stacking up on a single day to accommodate its usually remote members. So, there could be demand to book meeting rooms for longer blocks of time.
 
These are just two examples of how IT/communications professionals — and those coming from the AV specialty — will need to adjust to the new realities of hybrid work. And at Enterprise Connect 2022 in Orlando March 21 – 24, we’ve got several sessions examining these issues in careful detail.
 
For starters, our Video/AV track, led once again by Ira Weinstein of Recon Research, takes on the issue of meeting equity, as well as the emerging topic of interoperability among meeting room platforms. Weinstein will also focus on one of the technologies that’s likely to play a role in the meeting room of the future, ideation. We also have a session in our Workplace Strategies track led by analyst Prachi Nema of Omdia on matching conference room technology to the enterprise’s needs.
 
I hope you’ll consider joining us in Orlando the week of March 21. Meeting rooms are just one of the big topics we’ll dive deep into, along with contact centers, collaboration platforms, UC and UCaaS, security, and much more. We’d love to see you there!

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