What can businesses do to ensure employees are able to stay in contact with colleagues and work efficiently with remote teams across the globe?
A strong unified communications strategy is essential if workers are to maintain productivity and collaborate naturally with their colleagues around the world. A well-designed, well-installed conferencing system will ensure that teams can collaborate effectively and make critical business decisions, even if they are not in the same room, country or continent, so that no matter where they are that their ideas can be heard, seen, discussed and expanded upon in a comfortable and effective manner.
Importance of Conference Audio
When planning your unified communications strategy it’s important to remember that while the video side of conferencing may be the first element that springs to mind, the audio is equally critical. While it is beneficial to see your fellow meeting participants to build rapport, monitor body language and develop relationships, if you can’t hear your colleagues or you have to keep asking for information to be repeated due to poor quality connections, fatigue and frustration will soon set in among all participants and the meeting will be significantly less productive than it could be.
It is also worth noting that poor sound quality is frequently cited as the biggest complaint from people who use AV conferencing systems. As well as simply not being able to hear when you’re on the end of a call using outdated equipment, there are also issues with background noise being picked up leading to misunderstanding of what was said, cross talking due to people not being able to see and hear each other properly, and the voices of people who speak more quietly or are sitting further away from the microphone not being picked up clearly.
By investing in a system that offers clear, consistent and highly intelligible sound, internal communications will be maintained whatever the external situation and remote workers will be as productive as they would be if they were in the office. Not only that but it adds a level of professionalism when holding meetings with external clients that simply isn’t available when using mobiles and video calling apps.
In addition, ensuring your system is correctly configured for the room, and microphones and speakers are properly placed, will make a huge difference to combating poor sound. An AV conferencing system should make it feel as if all participants are in the room, no matter where they are located, only then will it be truly effective.
Consider Ease of Use
User acceptance is also an issue that should not be overlooked; people need to feel they can trust the system and be comfortable using it. For example, many people do not like a video system where they can see themselves on screen, nor do they like the unnatural feeling that can come from having to talk loudly into a central microphone – the more intuitive and natural the experience can be made to feel, whether though discreet mic placement or varied screen options, the more uptake you’ll see and the more the investment will be worthwhile.
If the system chosen is reliable, easy to use and a time saving tool, employees are more likely to embrace it rather than shy away from using it. We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve walked into a meeting room, attempted to start a call only for the technology to fail us. In an internal meeting this is frustrating and time consuming; for a client meeting it is unprofessional and creates a poor first impression. Employees need equipment they can rely on. If they’re struggling to speak to colleagues or gather information they can end up feeling isolated or unable to carry out the intended tasks. Not only that, but offering flexible working and showing an awareness of an individual’s situation can make staff feel more valued, increasing loyalty to the business and thus boosting retention rates, creating a clear business benefit.
While mobiles and messaging still have their place in business, a strong and complete unified communications strategy will benefit your business in a number of ways; by ensuring you can maintain productivity and communication, helping you to retain employees, offering flexibility and agility to a workforce that is increasingly demanding new ways of working, and making sure the business is able to adapt to external events more quickly. Remote workers will be able to access to the same functionality as their office-based colleagues without the hassle of trying to commute during industrial action and, crucially, business continuity will be maintained if a more serious unexpected event occurs.