Remote workers are becoming part of everyday life in just about every industry these days—but many companies are ill-equipped when it comes to the technology they implement for their employees who are working somewhere other than the office, according to a recent survey by Shure and market research firm Illuminas. [related]
The survey of 401 business professionals and IT decision-makers provided some surprising numbers about the future of conferencing, including on the benefits of flawless audio in conferencing, perception gaps between executives and staff on conferencing quality, and employee frustrations with virtual meetings
Respondents also answered questions related to the impact on workplace productivity and IT resources, future technology investment to support virtual meetings and the importance of audio vs. video.
Perhaps the most striking finding in the Shure and Illuminas survey is that only 36 percent of the business professionals surveyed believe their organizations currently have the right technology to support virtual meetings. Three out of five respondents felt their employers had the basic technology in place but need to make improvements.
“With the continued growth of global business and remote employees, virtual meetings are more important than ever,” said Chris Merrick, director of marketing for global systems at Shure, in the company’s recent announcement of the survey results.
“As we continuously try to learn more about the needs of the industry, this survey provides great insight about how today’s companies are looking to prepare for tomorrow’s business needs,” he said.
The survey included feedback from IT and business professionals in a wide range of industries including healthcare, banking, financial services, manufacturing, retail, technology, transportation, energy, agriculture and real estate.
The findings paint a picture of the importance of technology in providing effective virtual meetings:
- 87 percent of IT and business professionals surveyed said that virtual meetings were critical and/or very important
- 86 percent confirm that virtual meetings are growing in importance
- Three out of four IT professionals said their businesses plan to allocate bigger budgets in the next year to better accommodate virtual meetings
“Not having the right equipment can negatively impact several factors for businesses—workplace efficiency, cost savings and even morale,” said Merrick in the Shure announcement.
Inside the Shure Virtual Meeting Survey
Respondents said technical difficulties during virtual meetings caused several issues for the workforce. The top problems listed include the need to reschedule meetings, miscommunication resulting in reworking projects and decreased employee satisfaction.
Even when virtual meetings are able to take place without “technical issues”, the in-room sound technology can be a factor. Among the top frustrations, respondents listed background noise, echoes, only hearing partial pieces of speech and side conversations.
Overall, poor audio quality is a leading cause of meeting room problems based on the findings.
When technical issues occur, it means IT staff, already stretched in many businesses, is called upon to respond quickly. The survey found that 68 percent of executives elevate meeting room issues to IT at least weekly.
Overall, 82 percent of business professionals surveyed have experienced a negative impact of poor audio quality, with lost time and productivity leading the list.
The biggest factor in improving virtual meetings is providing flawless audio, with 81 percent of respondents citing it as the most obvious issue. They believe that these improvements would lead to better productivity (65 percent), less time spent in meetings (61 percent) and higher employee engagement (56 percent).