Finding the right solution for remote workers and multiple offices
In the digital workplace, more workers will enjoy flexible schedules and remote work opportunities. That means that many more teams will become “virtual teams” as coworkers are geographically located in distributed offices or home offices.
Collaboration is fundamental to teamwork, so teams will need a way to come together for meetings and brainstorming sessions. Bringing everyone together physically is cost prohibitive for all but the most critical meetings. Most organizations will need to adopt a conferencing (or meeting) solution that enables dispersed teams to meet remotely.
Telephone, video or web conferencing?
Would employees be better accommodated by teleconferencing, web conferencing or video conferencing? Teams primarily use teleconferencing when they want to conduct a quick, easy, and often ad hoc conversation with multiple participants. Teleconferencing works best when nobody needs to give a visual presentation. It lacks the nonverbal feedback that teams can share in a face-to-face meeting.
Video conferencing empowers participants to see the facial expressions of other team members. However, in the past, most video conferencing technology required an investment in expensive equipment and was limited to video-enabled conference. Due to cost and complexity, this was not a good solution for remote home-office employees.
Web conferencing offers the best of both worlds. Participants can use the service to schedule and conduct calls with or without using video or screen sharing. Like teleconferencing, each team member can participate from his or her own desk, without convening in a conference room. Participants can share screens and review documents. They can also use computer webcams to have face-to-face conversations. Many solutions now accommodate mobile device users. Most web conferencing solutions are provided as-a-service, and employees find them easy to use.
7 tips for selecting the right web conferencing service
There are dozens of reputable web conferencing providers to choose amongst. Here are 7 important considerations as you evaluate solutions:
- Determine your budget. Very small businesses will be interested to know that some web conferencing providers have a free version of their service, with a limited feature set. If you don’t have a budget for web conferencing, you could try this option. More often, it can be a way to preview the service before committing to a higher priced service package. Most small, and all midsized and large organizations will need to allocate a budget to web conferencing, based on the number of employees it will serve and the features required.
- Consider all potential use cases. You already know you’ll use web conferencing internally to enable teams to collaborate. How else will you use it? Some examples may be sales demos, marketing webinars, and even company-wide meetings.
- What types of content will you share in meetings? In addition to audio and video, your teams may want to share documents and their live computer screens. Will documents include Word? Excel? Powerpoint? Adobe? Will you also want to be able to share other media, such as YouTube video?
- Get a solution that accommodates enough people. If you intend to conduct webinars, make sure the service you select can accommodate hundreds, if not a thousand, attendees.
- Do you need to record sessions? Many times, it can be nice to record web conferencing sessions. In the case of webinars, this enables you to offer them “on demand” to those who registered but did not attend the live presentation. In other meetings, recording allows team members to go back and take notes, and it enables absent team members to listen later. If the meeting contains important content, you can even get it transcribed.
- Choose a solution that is operating system independent. Do your remote employees use Apple or Windows computers? It shouldn’t matter if you select a service that works equally well on the web browsers for both platforms.
- Consider your encryption requirements. Most web conferencing solutions offer some level of data encryption. Will your web meetings potentially include sensitive, proprietary or classified documents and information? If yes, search for solutions that offer stronger 256-bit encryption.
Conferencing is only one tool needed by remote employees
Web conferencing or video conferencing is only one of the tools you’ll need to support a growing number of flexible and remote workers in the digital workplace. You will also need to be able to assign a workspace for remote employees when they come into the office. Asure’s Workspace Management solutions help employers optimize office hoteling, conference room scheduling, and workspace utilization.