William MacDonald, chief strategy officer at UK-based voice and video conferencing systems provider StarLeaf, takes a close look at the various factors driving the video meetings and conferences sector…
Bloomberg predicts that the video conferencing market will be worth $6.7bn by 2025. It has already developed significantly over the past 10 years, taking video conferencing from being a function reserved for the ‘top dogs’ of an organisation into something that can deliver value to almost all employees, improving communication and collaboration and, ultimately, business success.
There are a number of key factors that are currently driving the uptake of video meetings and these will continue throughout 2020. From the need to support more remote and flexible working patterns, to the fears associated with skills shortages stemming from the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, business leaders are ready to appreciate the benefits video solutions can bring to the workplace this year.
The flexible and remote working movement
Over the last two decades, flexible and remote working practices have increased five-fold in the UK, with 54 per cent of employees now able to operate out of the office, or outside typical nine-to-five working hours. However, some organisations fear the result of employees not working in close proximity to one another.
Video meetings can ensure good communication and collaborative working, allowing employees to instantly meet face-to-face, regardless of where they are located in the world.
Looking to the future, we know the number of flexible and remote working arrangements will continue to increase. According to the 2019 UK Working Lives Report, professionals still desire greater autonomy, with 68 per cent looking to work flexibly in a way that is not currently available. Video is going to play a vital role in ensuring employees are given the flexibility they wish for, without compromising on effective team working.
Reducing real estate spend
Reducing the cost of business is another factor that is going to continue influencing the uptake of video communication throughout 2020.
Encouraging employees to meet over video as opposed to travelling to certain locations is a great way for an organisation to save on travel and accommodation costs. But by encouraging remote working, organisations are also able to reduce the number of permanent desks in place, enabling them to optimise their real estate spend.
With fewer workers regularly attending the office, organisations have begun replacing permanent desks with a smaller number of hot desks. This is a simple and effective way for business leaders to reduce office space.
Working habits are changing too. Most offices are now open plan, and meetings tend to involve a smaller number of people, and be more ad hoc.
So, with cost-effective video solutions for smaller spaces coming to the fore, many organisations are reformatting the meeting spaces in their offices. For example, large conference rooms are increasingly being divided into multiple smaller huddle spaces, with dedicated video solutions in place. It’s increasing workplace productivity and meeting room utilisation.
A shift to green
With events such as the Extinction Rebellion protests dominating the national media towards the end of 2019, global awareness of the impact we are having on our environment has ramped up significantly in recent months. As a result, sustainability has become a growing business imperative for the majority of UK organisations, with some pledging to become carbon negative as soon as 2030.
For a lot of organisations, business travel is one of their largest sources of carbon emissions, with an economy class flight from London to New York emitting over half a ton of CO2 per passenger. With an increasing need for organisations to demonstrate their green credentials it’s likely we’ll see more organisations re-evaluating their travel needs and opting for more environmentally friendly alternatives, such as video meetings, in 2020.
The Brexit effect: is a skills shortage on the horizon?
The UK’s recent departure from the EU has sparked many concerns regarding the impact this will have on the country’s skills pool. However, with video capabilities, organisations have the ability to mitigate against this risk, by having the technology in place to recruit outside of their immediate geographical location.
Using video to hire and retain employees is an effective way for employers to widen their talent pool. It gives them the opportunity to hire a candidate who is perfectly suited to the job description, rather than having to settle for someone who is not quite as well-suited to the role but lives within commutable distance. The organisations that are able to acquire a more diverse workforce will significantly benefit from new ways of thinking and a range of new ideas.
As Brexit negotiations continue, it is likely we will see UK organisations turning to video to recruit and retain employees, regardless of where they are in the world.
Reliable, intuitive, interoperable tech is key
Ultimately, there are a number of external factors that will continue to drive the uptake and popularity of meeting via video throughout 2020. But it needs to be the right solution. There is absolutely no point encouraging employees to use a solution that loses connection or is cumbersome and time-consuming for IT teams to set up and manage. This will only cause frustration for staff, customers and suppliers, and could ultimately end up costing the business in the long term.
For employees to buy into using video meetings on a daily basis, it is critical organisations have reliable, secure, interoperable and easy-to-use video solutions in place.