The shift to video brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work needs may have abated, but it's not going away. The question now is how it might morph into something new.
I’ve been covering videoconferencing since the late 1980s, when I was brought in to review a very early deployment at Apple by AT&T. It failed spectacularly. A decade later, I watched efforts by Intel and HP also fail.
The latest video development wave was driven by the pandemic, when people were forced to work from home and video tools advanced more in two years than in the prior two decades.
As we look at the next anticipated big step — the emergence of the metaverse and immersive virtual reality (VR) collaboration tools — it’s time to scope out what’s needed, what can be done, and whether it will work. And it’s critical to remember the needs of employees themselves.
Employee engagement and belonging
The most compelling argument for virtual meetings is that they eliminate travel. The time benefit — no commutes — is self-evident, as are reduced risk of accidents, illness, work/life imbalance, and time (the need to get people to the same location takes longer than getting them on a call, particularly if most are remote).
The downside is that remote employees face a lot of issues. Without strong management, they may not have well-defined goals or milestones. New remote employees have limited chances to create relationships needed for advancement. And remote workers have indicated that if they didn’t already have relationships with colleagues, they couldn’t make them. This lack of belonging, for lack of a better term, increases employee retention risk and may lead to behavior that’s hostile to the company because the person could decide they’re being disadvantaged in comparison to those who show up at the office.
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