July 12, 2021 - The last couple of months, the laptop was the alpha and omega for the average knowledge worker. Coming back to the office, it's clear that it will still be the center of the workplace and of our meetings. Business leaders now need to make it a priority to adapt their meeting rooms to this laptop-first approach, and invest accordingly.
For knowledge workers, no other tool has probably been so important in the past couple of months as the laptop. We used it to work from home, set up video calls, and take classes. But we also used it for leisure: watching Netflix or staying in touch with friends and family.
With our imminent return to the office, the laptop will be just as important. The laptop may have been essential for many employers to avoid business disruption, but for the post-COVID workplace, it will probably play an equally crucial role in enhancing productivity, flexibility and efficiency. It allows us to build a business case in Excel, prepare a proposal in Word or PowerPoint, and most importantly, set up video calls with our colleagues, without needing much else.
BYOM popularity soars
In the post-COVID office, in-room meeting technology no longer seems to fit employees' needs. Instead, knowledge workers have fully embraced the Bring Your Own Meeting (BYOM) trend, hosting video calls from their laptop, just like they are used to working from home.
The popularity of BYOM has increased significantly from 56% in 2020 to 70% in 2021. It's all about ease-of-use: stepping into a meeting room, employees want to connect automatically to the meeting room tech from their own device and collaborate without wasting time.
What does this mean for the meeting room?
According to our research, the meeting room will be the most used office space in our hybrid workplace. Unfortunately, many of today's meeting rooms are not yet fully equipped to cater for a laptop-first, hybrid meeting approach. At the start of the pandemic, companies invested massively in UC&C licenses to enable virtual collaboration. As a result, only 22% of the workforce believe this is still an investment priority for 2021.
Right now, with the impending return to the office, employees shift the investment focus to the available technology in the meeting room. This is the top 3 of required investments, as indicated by our research:
#1 VC technology (51%)
Currently only 1 in 2 meeting rooms is equipped for video conferencing, while a staggering 77% of employees believe every single meeting room should enable hybrid meetings with VC technology. Meeting peripherals, such as cameras, speakers and mics are clearly an investment priority, one that offers much room for progress
#2 Wireless technologies (43%)
Wireless technologies are the second investment priority for the hybrid workplace. Previous Barco research already revealed that meeting users want to be able to connect to their meeting room peripherals easily. Hybrid meetings should go hand in hand with an easy user experience. Meeting users also want to be able to share their content in and outside the meeting room without physically linking their devices to cables (HDMI, VGA…) and adapters.
#3 Other usability features
Usability and user experience are key to making the hybrid meeting work. Employees expect that meeting technology can stimulate engagement and make it easier to control their meeting and engage with their content. 36% of respondents want touch screen technology in their meeting rooms, allowing them to manipulate content more freely. 32% want to use their laptop as a meeting command center, and 30% prefer touchless meeting room technology, such as voice control.
Your investment priorities?
If we want to make the return to the office and the new hybrid workplace a success, we need to listen to our employees. With the meeting room as the most used place in the hybrid, laptop-first workplace, it's clear that business leaders still have some work to do to provide their employees with the usability and user comfort they need.