Working with remote teams over video is the new normal as more organizations shift to the hybrid workplace. As video adoption continues, users have higher expectations for video performance and the quality of features in their video services. Organizations, too, are laser focused on improving the video experience across desktops, meeting rooms and home offices to ensure employees are productive no matter their location.
The industry goal now is no longer to convince the business world that remote work is possible but to improve the experience. Video providers are enhancing their services for the new remote and hybrid workforce with capabilities to improve call quality, enhance productivity and increase engagement.
With this in mind, let's look at the 2023 video conferencing trends driving the market for both vendors and users.
1. The hybrid workplace evolves
The office vibe is completely different than it was pre-pandemic. In the pre-pandemic office, the people you physically saw in the office on any given day were the people available to work with you. If someone wasn't there, it probably meant they weren't working that day. Now, odds are most people you work with on any given day are working remotely, which means you can't just walk up to their desk to ask questions or chat.
One way to solve this problem is to provide video to every remote worker and in meeting rooms, which makes it possible to still meet and work face-to-face regardless of who is in the office. But there are other problems that video possibly can't solve. How do we contact remote workers for ad-hoc meetings since we can't just walk up to their cubicles? How do we find and book video meeting rooms now that they are the hottest real estate in the office?
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Apps and services like team chat for managing remote teams and workspace reservation tools for managing meeting rooms are now part and parcel of the new hybrid work experience. Tellingly, these tools are becoming more integrated with -- and sometimes offered by -- video meeting service providers. In other words, they shouldn't be thought of as separate tools anymore. Video, chat and room management are all part of the new hybrid workspace.
2. Home office and studios
The pandemic changed priorities regarding visual and audio quality in meetings. After a year of bad camera angles, poor lighting and just looking unattractive compared to people with better setups, home workers demanded better. Some employers understood the need for people to look and sound good while working remotely and provided workers a stipend to upgrade their home setup. Video vendors are jumping on the home office upgrade trend by offering kits and bundles for home workers -- generally a webcam and headset as well as new offerings of higher-quality webcams for those in client-facing positions who need to make a good impression over video.
This is a continuing trend. The journey towards building a home office or studio is ongoing. Higher quality webcams and microphones as well as extras, such as acoustic wall panels, green screens and ring lights, are still be hot items.
3. Remote team bonding
The search for the virtual water cooler is on. People are happy to avoid commuting, but they still want to feel part of a team. Working in isolation isn't for everyone. While it is simple enough to create a "water cooler" channel in your team chat app, that isn't always enough to get people chatting and bonding. We need something more human, like a video version of the water cooler.
There are a few new apps that are looking to address this issue, including Bramble and Zoom's newly announced Spots. The idea of these apps is to create a virtual workspace where you can see your remote co-workers, but unlike a typical video meeting, everyone is doing their individual work. Everyone is quietly working but can look around to see who else is there and start a conversation at any time.
Just seeing the faces of their co-workers can make a big difference for remote workers. The apps in this space are new and will probably evolve until they get the dynamic exactly right. But companies are acknowledging and addressing the problem. One way or another, employees need to find a way to feel like a team while working remotely, or productivity will start to suffer.
4. Support for live video editing
Until now, the two worlds of video have been recorded and live. Recorded video can have amazing production value and unlimited effects. Live video, whether it's a meeting or a webinar, is generally a raw camera feed from a meeting room or desktop camera.
New streaming software has been developed to offer live video editing, which creates post-production effects during a live video call. These post-production effects range from changing backgrounds to advanced camera effects and tricks. I use these capabilities on every video call and webinar I make, and this is just part of a bigger video conferencing trend for these types of features.
Several vendors, like Zoom and Microsoft, already offer features that support green screen and virtual backgrounds and are actively adding more. In the future, we will rely less on the third-party software as basic business video apps will support live video editing features. This is another trend that bubbled up before the pandemic and accelerated because of it. After a year of seeing themselves in generic video boxes, workers crave something more exciting and dynamic.
5. More advanced features
Pre-pandemic, the mantra for creating good video software was to keep it simple. Video wasn't as ubiquitous, and there was employee resistance to using it. Any barriers to joining a meeting would result in people giving up on video and using the phone. It had to be one click to join with few buttons on the interface once the meeting started.
Now that everyone is more comfortable using video, we are ready for more advanced features. Video services are offering more personalized features and visual effects, including cartoon avatars and custom backgrounds. Video vendors are also pushing out AI features, including meeting notes, video clips to share with team members and other personal assistant tasks.
Other general technology trends, like augmented reality, virtual reality and gamification, will seep into video as well. The technology is out there, the industry is pushing hard on it and users are more comfortable trying new features. Adoption will start slowly in 2023 and may not become mainstream for a few more years, but video is going to be a lot more interesting!