It’s hard to believe that just a couple of years ago, video calls were mainly something people headed to a dedicated meeting room for. Now, for many of us, it’s every meeting, every day, on any of our devices.
Although the world has jumped on video meetings at record speed, anyone who has sat on back-to-back video meetings all day knows that they’re not the silver bullet.
The survey found that although 72% of people say that virtual meetings improve inclusion and participation, 68% also say there are too many virtual meetings to begin with.
Clearly, there’s a need for new ways to connect spontaneously.
The return to corridor conversations
Before the pandemic, quick corridor chats, coffee catchups and even popping your head over a desk divider to ask a question accounted for a lot of the quiet breakthroughs made by teams.
That hasn’t translated well to remote working – in fact, a CIO.com survey conducted in November 2021 found that the top two concerns about remote working by Australian managers were “difficulty maintaining strong organisational culture” and “difficulty maintaining ‘coffee chat/hallway’ type collaboration”.
Google has been working hard on enabling this kind of spontaneous collaboration regardless of whether people are working remotely or in the office.
In Google Workspace, documents are designed to be edited live online by multiple people.
This takes away the stop-start nature of emailing documents from person to person, with each person sitting on the document until they’re happy with their part. Instead, everyone can work live on the same document.
We’re also building Google Meet video calling right into Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, and this feature will be available in the first half of 2022.
This means anyone who is editing a document simultaneously can have a quick audio or video chat rather than having to schedule a meeting, letting everyone get more out of their day without blocking it with endless half-hour virtual meetings.
Canva, the Australian online design and publishing software company, says its use of Google Workspace has enabled initiatives such as a meeting-free day each week. “To empower our team to undertake deep work, we have a recurring weekly Calendar invitation that keeps an entire day free of meetings across the business,” explains Jeff Lai, Canva’s Internal Infrastructure Specialist.
Eighty percent of the global workforce are deskless frontline workers – doctors, nurses, real estate agents, field engineers, transport and logistics team members.
But only 35% of frontline workers say they have the technology they need to get their job done well. Often, they have to share terminals and may not have their own network ID or email address.
For example, workers at a GE Renewable Energy factory are wearing Google Glass devices that give them instructions on how to install parts correctly without having to refer back to printed or online documentation.
A study showed that the first time workers put on Google Glass, they were able to complete their tasks 34% faster than the old way of working.
Google Meet is now available in open beta for Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 too. When a Google Glass wearer connects to a meeting, other participants get a view from the headset’s forward-facing camera.
This means that team members elsewhere can get a ‘first person perspective’ of what the wearer is looking at – ideal for providing remote troubleshooting assistance of a technical problem or assisting with patient diagnosis in a medical setting.
Of course, for this to be successful, joining Google Meets on Google Glass has to be really easy. Real estate firm CBRE told Google early on that they didn’t want their team members to have to become technical experts to use video collaboration in this way.
So Google worked to make joining meetings extremely simple – the Google Workspace integration on Google Glass means people out in the field can join Google Meets in their Calendar directly with just a few taps. No complex meeting codes are required.
Making meetings more inclusive
Google is focused on making real, live collaboration never more than a click away in every Google Workspace app, but video meetings do remain an important way for teams to come together.
We’ve been working with our wide ecosystem of partners to develop hardware that makes video meetings better for everyone, whether ‘in the room’ or working remotely. For example, the Google Jamboard is a digital whiteboard that lets people in the room draw on the screen, with remote (or in-room) participants able to add and edit from their own devices.
We’ve also heard from customers that being in a meeting room with just a single video screen isn’t optimal now that people are used to virtual meetings where they’re used to having their own video tile and full control of documents on their own devices.
Google Meet Companion Mode (in preview) allows meeting participants to join a meeting in the same room on their laptop or phone and participate fully in the meeting, without worrying about echoing audio feedback or the need to be constantly muting and unmuting.
Individuals can present from their own laptops and participate in online features of the meeting like polls, digital whiteboards and live document collaboration on their own screen.
Making everybody digitally equal means whether working from the office or a remote location, everyone has the same opportunity to participate.