How to improve virtual meetings during coronavirus pandemic

Collaboration tools can ensure productivity but IT needs to take three steps to mitigate business disruptions, according to Gartner.

Working from home: What the new normal looks like, plus remote management tips

With the rapid adoption of enterprise-grade digital meeting and workstream collaboration tools in response to the coronavirus pandemic, organizations need to improve operations to support a newly remote workforce. As reliance on collaboration tools grows, Gartner has identified three steps IT leaders should take to ensure productivity and mitigate business disruptions.

"The rise in virtual meetings since the COVID-19 pandemic began is putting pressure on enterprise leaders to ensure employees have the right technological capabilities to maintain consistent, high-quality connections with colleagues, customers and partners while working remotely," said Mike Fasciani, senior research director at Gartner, in a statement.

As employees become more dependent on these virtual meeting and collaboration tools, these steps can help IT leaders provide an improved and secure user experience.

SEE:  Remote workers are here to stay: 4 tips to manage them effectively  (TechRepublic)

Enable reliable and consistent virtual meeting experiences

Most enterprise leaders whose employees have been instructed to work from home due to COVID-19 have already procured and deployed an enterprise-grade video meeting and workstream collaboration offering.

Once these platforms are deployed, sufficient bandwidth and network reliability are critical for enabling productivity and a consistent user experience, Gartner said.

High-quality group video calls need an internet service that can deliver download and upload speeds of at least 1.5 Mbps, the firm said. While many locations today have enough broadband internet bandwidth to accommodate video meetings, some do not.

Employees who reside in these internet dead spots, which can include highly rural areas, can leverage workstream collaboration messaging capabilities to work with colleagues asynchronously or join meetings using the dial-in audio options to their telephony device, Gartner said.

Remote workers can also use 4G-enabled smartphones, rather than PCs, to connect to online meetings, the firm suggested.

"Many video meetings and workstream collaboration applications were built with a 'mobile first' design intent," Fasciani said. "Often, these applications work as well on mobile as on a desktop or web-client."

Make the meeting secure

Addressing security concerns is paramount for business leaders looking to enable productive online meetings. "End user organizations can contribute to more secure meeting experiences by being thoughtful around IT administrator settings, meeting host controls, and end user behavior," Fasciani said. 

"Simple steps, like using a separate host passcode, randomizing meeting IDs, and requiring that participants register for the meeting service before joining the call, can go a long way in ensuring online meetings remain private."

Reshape meeting culture to promote productivity

Meeting overload is already an issue in many organizations, and it may be exacerbated in this current work from home environment, Fasciani said. "Managers should poll their team to determine the degree of meeting overload that they're experiencing, and then experiment with one or two interventions focused on type, quality, formality, or cadence to improve meeting experiences," he said.

Prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gartner projected that half of organizations would experience increased collaboration between their business and IT teams. The firm also predicted that the dispute between business and IT teams over control of technology would lessen as both sides come to understand that joint participation is critical to the success of innovation in a digital workforce.

Find more information about how organizations can lead through the disruption of coronavirus in the Gartner coronavirus resource center
 

Also see

African man wearing headphones watching webinar making notes study online

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto