Video technology will define the connected office of the future

As offices become more open and digitally connected, high-quality, affordable video solutions are becoming essential features of meeting rooms and huddle spaces

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In the office of the not-so-distant future, quick, high-quality, affordable video communication will be an essential feature, particularly as Millennials come to dominate the scene

A revolution is occurring in today’s workplace. Every business is becoming a connected digital business. Democratisation and the impact of consumer technology are changing when, where and how people work. Organisations today need to satisfy the new digitally savvy workforce and, in the process, accelerate employee engagement, productivity and business agility in order to stay ahead. Many CEOs are investing in digital workplace initiatives as a key priority and driver of competitive advantage for the years ahead. The era of the digital workplace is already taking shape, driven by three key trends.

Physical changes
Companies today are proactively redesigning their office spaces to suit the dynamics of the next-generation workforce, and the move to open workspaces is dramatically changing how employees work and collaborate. On the flipside, open offices create concentration issues – ongoing distractions are one of the biggest complaints employees have about open spaces. It’s no wonder, then, that as companies shift to modern workspaces, the need for informal meeting rooms and quiet zones is skyrocketing.

Wainhouse Research has reported the rise of huddle rooms and small meeting spaces will play a critical role in enabling collaboration among teams. Senior Analyst Andrew Davis believes there are somewhere between 30 and 50 million of these spaces around the world, and most lack support for collaborative technologies. Zig Serafin, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice-President for Skype Business Services, has claimed 97 percent of meeting rooms in the world are not equipped for modern video conferencing.

Millennial movements
The changes happening in office design are also fuelled by another trend: changing workforce demographics. By 2020, Millennials will form 50 percent of the global labour force, and in the last year they surpassed Gen X as the largest generation in the US workforce.

One of the defining characteristics of the Millennial generation and Gen Z (the newest entrants to the workplace, born since the mid-90s) is that they have grown up as digital natives. Always connected, their use of technology sets them apart. For Millennials, voicemail is considered outdated technology, and email – seen as a very formal way of communicating – is rapidly going down the same route. These workers expect the office environment to adapt to the way they communicate, and to be able to use the social media applications they use in their personal lives in a work setting.

Adaptive technology
Tech is playing a key role in shaping how we collaborate. The deployment of cloud-based applications has accelerated, enabling new and more effective ways of working. Video conferencing as a service is having a massive impact on the market, making it affordable for companies to scale deployment of collaborative technologies.

Rich visual communication is essential to building trust among increasingly task-orientated, distributed workgroups. Humans are wired for face-to-face communication, and today’s employees expect to be able to collaborate with video. As a result, video is becoming increasingly pervasive in the workplace. No longer just a standalone technology, such as video conferencing, video is now embedded in workflow productivity applications such as Slack and the recently announced Microsoft Teams.

The latest data from Wainhouse Research indicates video usage in business is becoming mainstream, with more than half of all web conferences now video-based, and 60 percent of those video calls involving content sharing.

Rich visual communication is essential to building trust among increasingly task-orientated, distributed workgroups

The good news is there are alternatives to the traditional video room systems, which easily cost $5,000 and can quickly reach $25,000 when special features and support services are required. A wave of affordable, high-quality, USB-based video endpoints, such as Logitech’s ConferenceCam range, has finally made broad-based deployment of video a realistic option for businesses.

To succeed in the 21st century, businesses need to embrace new technologies and plan for the next-generation digital workplace. The good news is collaborative technologies are more affordable than ever. As prices continue to drop, and ease of use continues to increase, it is interesting to see that we appear to be right at tipping point of mass deployment. The digital workplace will be a most interesting space to watch over the next few years.