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How to Manage Face-to-Face and Online Guests in a Meeting Room

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations were forced to send their workers home and shift to a remote office business model. However, as restrictions loosen, organizations have been making the gradual move to reopen their doors and bring employees back to their in-office desks again. But what does a post-COVID office look like?  

When contemplating this, one of the most important considerations is the way we run meetings. Business meetings are changing due to the need to work differently. With social distancing protocols, it may not be possible for all employees to return to the office at once. Some employees will work from the office while others will continue to work from home.  

Unified Communication, like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Cisco WebEx, support businesses with mixed environments of at-home and in-office employees. In 2020, Unified Communication adoption increased by over 25% year over year, according to the latest International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Unified Communications & Collaboration QVie.  

Many -organizations use Unified Communication to communicate internally and externally.  Even organizations that have not traditionally embraced video-conferencing in fields such law, education, health care, and government have made the move to Unified Communication platforms. The wide adoption of Unified Communication from different industries reinforces the question of what offices will look like post-COVID. 

Unified Communication and meeting structures are rapidly evolving with many businesses operating from a “work from home” model. Today’s meeting involves parties from multiple physical locations including homes and offices.  

How Can Unified Communication Support the Mix of Face-to-Face and Online Guests for a Collaborative Meeting? 

As 2021 begins, some businesses are starting to slowly  bring employees back into the office. What happens when half your workforce is at home? What happens after the global pandemic is over and most people can return to the offices? How will my employees continue to meet and be productive? The return to work may include a working style that we are not used to. 

Unified Communication, like Microsoft Teams, supports a mixed guest list of in-person and online attendees. The level of effort required to run meetings is entirely up to the company and its investment in meeting solutions. Starting a meeting can be as simple as pressing a button or as complex as hours of IT support for connection issues. 

Platforms like Microsoft Teams also include the ability for participants to collaborate with each other. There is technology that supports online participants so that they feel like they are in the room with the in-office participants. For example, some cameras can detect who is speaking in the room and pan/tilt/focus  the shot into them. This can be helpful to show the speaker when they otherwise might be difficult to see on a small screen if in-person participants are socially distanced. 

Another example is the use of virtual whiteboards. The in-room whiteboard is digitized and presented to online guests so they can see always what is on the whiteboard, even if the presenter momentarily steps in front of the whiteboard and blocks the camera’s view. 

If your organization needs to enable collaborative meetings with a mix of participants, turn to the experts at Microserve. Our dedicated AV team can help assess your situation and goals. We can recommend and support the right technology for your business needs.  
Contact our team today for a consultation.