Remembering back to spring 2020 when COVID-19 first began impacting commerce, business leaders predicted a few short weeks of remote work to help stop the spread of the virus. As we know, those few weeks turned into multiple years.
Because of that shortsightedness, organizations largely sent employees home with the bare minimum: their laptop and the built-in camera, microphone and speaker. As the pandemic drags into a third year and business leaders continue to embrace distributed work, it is now clear that employees need far better tools to work effectively from home, according to new research from Logitech.
The hardware peripherals giant surveyed more than 1,000 IT hardware decision makers in large organizations to understand whether their standards changed over the course of the pandemic, and also interviewed and surveyed 3,000 end users to learn about their struggles.
Despite a massive reliance on videoconferencing, the Logitech survey revealed that many organizations failed to equip workers with video and audio-optimizing tools. According to the data, fewer than 40% of end users said their organizations provided external webcams, headsets or other conferencing accessories. Just 37% say their organization provided a headset or webcam.
With little change in the strategy of IT leaders to outfit home offices with necessary equipment, end users are taking it upon themselves to source the technology they need in a video-first hybrid environment, the research finds. As a result, users are struggling with inefficiencies.
According to Logitech, 89% of end users say they struggle with video issues, and 85% struggle with audio issues. When it comes to lighting, 64% of end users say they struggle with poor or inadequate lighting in their homes during video calls, and 63% say changing daylight and seasonal lighting changes impact their video calls.
The webcam manufacturer also found that built-in cameras in laptops are not getting the job done, as 65% of end users said the angle of their built-in camera is unflattering, 64% feel that they are always looking away from the camera and 63% feel they don’t look their best on camera.
Audio issues also plague remote end users, as 60% say they struggle with poor sound quality through their laptop speakers. Another 66% say background noise from other meeting participants impacts their videoconferencing meetings, and 58% struggle with distracting noises in their own homes, Logitech reports.
Common complaints include laptop speaker angle, poor microphones of meeting participants and consumer-grade headsets and earbuds not getting the job done.
However, it’s not just technology issues impacting videoconferencing meetings and the work lives of remote end users, as Logitech finds that end users also struggle with ergonomics in their home offices. Nearly 60% say they have to sit in an uncomfortable position to be on camera, and 70% report physical discomfort after sitting for long meetings.
All of these issues force users to make adjustments that can disrupt meetings and the flow of work, such as checking to make sure audio equipment is working, eliminating noise distractions, fixing their hair or clothing, adjusting lighting, rearranging backgrounds and finding the right camera angle.
These challenges were reported by employees from across the board, including management or executive leadership (57%), senior employees (19%) and early career workers (22%).
With videoconferencing being leveraged for critical meetings, Logitech recommends organizations and their IT leaders take several steps to equip remote end users with the necessary tools.
IT leaders should:
- Raise awareness among leadership of the challenges end users are having when joining virtual meetings.
- Survey end users in the organization on their collaboration and productivity challenges
- Deploy necessary tools, such as webcams, noise-cancelling earbuds or headsets and collaboration docks. Ensure that selected devices are certified for cloud collaboration platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and others.
- Define organizational requirements and keep hybrid work plans open to modifications.