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Weighing personal video conferencing endpoints for hybrid work

Deploying video conferencing endpoints solely in meeting rooms ignores the needs of remote workers. Learn why desktop and home environments must be included when evaluating endpoint options.

Video conferencing has become a bedrock of collaboration since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as organizations plan for the return to the office or a hybrid workplace environment, IT leaders must ensure that video meetings offer a high-quality experience, regardless of participant locations.

Within the office, video conferencing has largely meant conference rooms. According to Metrigy's "Workplace Collaboration: 2021-22" global study of 476 organizations, 57% are increasing their video conferencing investments in meeting spaces, with nearly half adding video conferencing systems to all rooms.

But only focusing on conference rooms means failing to address the needs of the remote worker, as well as those who return to the office but prefer to attend meetings from their desks. About 35% of organizations expect in-office employees will stay at their desks and attend meetings remotely, according to the study.

To meet the needs of at-home and at-desk employees, a number of video conferencing endpoint vendors, including Cisco, DTEN, Logitech, Neat and Poly, have introduced personal video conferencing systems, such as high-quality standalone cameras, video bars with built-in audio, and all-in-one devices that combine a monitor, video camera, speakers and microphone. Many of these devices offer advanced features, like noise cancellation, automatic video adjustment based on ambient light and remote management for IT teams.

But only focusing on conference rooms means failing to address the needs of the remote worker, as well as those who return to the office but prefer to attend meetings from their desks.

Evaluating personal video conferencing endpoints

Less than half of study participants said built-in webcams on laptops and desktops are sufficient for employee video needs. For organizations that do opt for external webcams, their deployment choices are based on the quality of specific cameras and the employee's role within the company. Consider the following when evaluating higher-end cameras and other personal video conferencing endpoints for your organization:

  • How often employees use video conferencing. Those spending hours a day in video meetings are most likely to benefit from a higher-quality experience.
  • The roles and personas of video users. Those involved in customer-facing video sessions or in roles like telehealth, distance learning and high-touch professional services are more likely to require a higher-quality experience, especially given the potential to use high-quality engagements as competitive differentiators.
  • How to fund endpoint purchases. While IT typically funds endpoint purchases, organizations may also provide a remote work stipend for employees to purchase devices to help them work more effectively. Today, most stipend spending goes to headsets, keyboards, mice and monitors. But it is likely employees will add higher-quality video devices to their purchase list as they become more aware of the potential to improve visual engagement.

Finally, companies should consider how to manage personal video devices. As noted, many vendors now support remote device management apps, often available for free, to enable device configuration, firmware updates and performance reporting. The adoption of such management tools is likely to drive companies toward a single-vendor offering for personal video devices to reduce management complexity.

As video has become core to employee -- and even customer -- engagement, don't settle for the camera built into a laptop or desktop. Instead, consider the potential of higher-quality personal devices to improve video and voice quality and enable better meeting experiences.

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