Connectedness is crucial in the hybrid work era, which is why it’s no surprise that industries far and wide are embracing more powerful, flexible collaboration solutions and video conferencing equipment. Whether it’s making telehealth and virtual education more inclusive, or making collaboration for banking and government more secure, the challenges across the business landscape are immense.
As distributed work environments become the norm, powerful video conferencing devices and remote collaboration tools are more essential than ever. In this piece, we’ll explore the integral role video conferencing solutions will play in collaboration moving forward and forecast the most important trends driving hybrid work innovation. Then, we’ll walk through the trends most relevant to hybrid work’s future.
Video Conferencing and Collaboration: What to Expect in 2023
Here’s something you already know: Work isn’t what it used to be—not by a long shot. Over the past few years, most organizations transitioned from an office-first policy to some type of hybrid work model.
However, what you might not realize is this: Flexible work environments are here to stay. They’re not going anywhere—but then again, why should they? For organizations and employees alike, distributed workplaces have been a roaring success. According to Gallup, these advantages include:
- Improved work-life balance
- More efficient time usage
- More flexibility in working hours and location
- Lower risk of burnout
- Greater productivity
If the ability to work from home was taken away, 66% of workers would immediately start looking for a new job and 39% would quit. According to a Buffer report, 97% of employees want to work remotely at least part time for the rest of their careers. Fortunately for the workforce, 72% of organizations are planning on offering some type of remote work policy moving forward.
But what does it mean for companies like yours? Aligning organizational workflows and team work styles with the proper video conferencing equipment and collaboration tools is critical for future success. Nearly two-thirds of employees say there are more meetings as a result of remote work. So, leaders must assess how their people and technology fit, where balances can be struck, and where existing investments can be optimized. Given the growth of new hybrid workflows, more employees are going to be collaborating from different locations and time zones—the experience can be fractured and frustrating without adequate tools in place.
Simply put, organizations need the right technologies to bridge the gap between stakeholders and make the most of their newly flexible work environment.
Trends to Watch
Of course, video conferencing platforms and collaboration tools aren’t all built the same. You need a solution that fits into your organization, one that simplifies work for every team. Here are some of the top video conferencing and collaboration trends to keep in mind as you evaluate the ideal future state of your company.
1. Increased Focus on Security
Because so much important work is now done virtually, conference calls and meetings have become much more enticing targets for hackers. In fact, Zerify reports that 97% of organizations are concerned about protecting privacy and video conferencing data. Worse yet, 84% say that hackers could easily steal sensitive information and trade secrets if their systems were breached.
IT leaders should thoroughly research their options. Leading platforms will include robust security features, including end-to-end encryption, end-to-end identity verification, zero-trust security, and more.
2. Migrating to Cloud-Based Phone Systems
Cloud calling—a more flexible calling solution powered by Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)—is being adopted by more and more companies across the world. Not only is cloud calling a more cost-effective way to facilitate company-wide communications, but it also offers a more convenient user experience.
And, the innovations around cloud calling solutions have likewise expanded for the hybrid workforce. Some cloud providers even allow employees to transform their personal smartphones into IP phones by simply downloading an app that enables on-the-go video conferencing, messaging, and more. For companies who use on-premises phone systems, cloud migration has become exceedingly more streamlined, with the ability to take a phased path to the cloud in a way that’s scalable for all sizes of organizations.
Consider this: Since 2018, the number of cloud calling licenses have exploded from 47 million to over 90 million in 2022. It’s clear that as the market continues to trend toward the cloud, forward thinking companies are making cloud calling a top priority.
3. Improving Transparency in Hybrid Workplaces
Now that employees are working from home, the office, and on-the-go, communication between team members and managers has become more challenging. Some employees may be on different schedules than their colleagues, making it difficult to align on priorities and achieve core business objectives. Likewise, hybrid workplaces can lack the ease of face-to-face communication, further wedging a barrier between team members. This growing gap makes it difficult for stakeholders to stay on the same page, potentially resulting in decreased performance.
However, employees who report having clarity on their work are:
- Almost 4x as likely to plan on staying at the company at least two more years.
- 7x as likely to say they rarely think about finding a new job.
- 4.5x as likely to say they’re happy at their current company.
A comprehensive communication system is essential to breaking down silos that hinder productivity and set employees up for failure. The best platforms enable asynchronous communication through a full suite of capabilities, including direct messaging, team spaces, face-to-face video conferencing, and more. These tools can be used to facilitate regular check-ins between team members and keep everyone working toward the same goal.
4. Feature-Rich Video Conferencing Devices
As hybrid work models have been adopted, decision-makers have racked their brains trying to figure out a way to seamlessly connect both remote and in-office employees. Part of the problem is that many enterprises are still using vendor-locked equipment—tools that are incompatible with the rest of their ecosystem (and even worse, with the devices their employees are using from home). This renders a harmonious video conferencing experience difficult, if not impossible.
This is just one part of the frustration’s workers have with collaboration in the hybrid workplace. Webex research shows that employees who do not have the proper technology at work are more likely to leave their current employer. On the flip side, a majority of employees who have the technology they need have no plans to leave!
What’s needed is simple: video conferencing equipment that’s optimized for hybrid work. From headsets and cameras to collaboration devices that support virtual meetings, digital whiteboarding, and cloud calling, organizations are helping remote workers take their personal office spaces to the next level. When these devices are purpose-built with AI features like background noise removal and audio and camera intelligence, employees can meet, work, and collaborate effortlessly, no matter where they are working from.
As for in-office devices, more business leaders are giving their traditional workspaces a much needed makeover. Advanced devices like room kit bundles empower employees to give engaging presentations, share content, workshop ideas, and extend the HQ conference room across the globe. Whether it be at an employee’s desk, a small huddle space or a big meeting room, feature-rich tools make it easier to communicate with distributed teams, and positively impact everyone’s work experience.
5. All-in-One Collaboration Suites
Collaboration is about so much more than video conferencing in a hybrid work environment. Teams are leveraging a variety of engagement channels to their advantage, according to a recent study by Cisco:
- 231% increase in cloud calling: As mentioned, cloud-based phone systems are helping employees stay connected on the go.
- 467% increase in closed captions usage: Advanced conferencing tools utilize artificial intelligence to automatically generate captions for users who may be hard of hearing.
- 164% increase in real-time translation use: Inclusivity is a big deal in the modern workplace. Today’s platforms can automatically translate the speaker’s words into dozens of different languages to make certain that nobody is left out of the meeting.
- 56% increase in live Q&A and polling participation: By giving attendees engaging, real-time activities you can not only break the ice, but also take a pulse check on engagement for everyone involved.
According to Owl Labs, just 36% of employers have upgraded video meeting technology since the pandemic began. Even fewer (just 19%) expanded their collaboration and meeting spaces.
As more organizations encounter the drawbacks of disparate technologies, it’s likely that many will search for a comprehensive alternative. Of course, the ideal solution is one that not only supplies a fully integrated, connected, and inclusive platform, but also one that provides the hardware necessary to transform physical meeting spaces and take collaboration to the next level.
2023 is shaping up to be a memorable one in the world of hybrid work. For business leaders, it’s not just about dialing in on the most important trends in technology, but about marrying those trends with the wants and needs of their employees.
The good news? With the right video conferencing solution, you can do exactly that and more. Whether you’re worried about security, or collaboration, rest assured there’s plenty of technologies out there that can enable you—and your employees—to reap the benefits of hybrid work.
Robyn Rawlings is Director of Campaigns & Content Marketing at Webex by Cisco.