If you’ve attended a meeting in which your coworkers are in one room but you’re on the phone, you know there’s a difference between physical and virtual presence.
Steelcase researchers call that “presence disparity,” when people in the same physical space have an advantage over those who are remote. With the rise of the global workforce—62 per cent of employees regularly correspond with people in different time zones—video tools are fast becoming a part of daily work life. But is that video experience best serving employees’ needs?
Calling into a meeting by phone, you can’t hear everyone or read their body language; you wonder why everyone starts laughing for seemingly no reason.
Video-conferencing helps solve those issues by putting everyone on the same visual plane. Lew Epstein, general manager of the Steelcase advanced marketing + applications group, lives in San Francisco and manages a team that’s located around the world. “I’m often on video three or four times a day,” he says. Steelcase’s finance department integrates video even more thoroughly, with always-on “wormhole” cameras keeping teams in constant communication.
Spatial Vs. Social
But simply turning on a camera isn’t enough. How are the lighting and the acoustics, the angle of the camera? What works for two people won’t be right for a meeting of 15.
Video solutions need to consider real-life scenarios. In a Steelcase survey, 60 per cent of respondents said they needed small, private spaces for one-on-one video communications, as well as larger spaces for group video conferences.Design, quality, and user behaviour are all video issues that executives might overlook. But those who create smart video-conferencing setups will open up endless possibilities for how employees work, where they work, and what type of work they’re able to do.
For more on the “mixed presence” intersection of physical and virtual space, read Steelcase’s article “Future Focused.”
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