There was a time when if you heard the word “meeting” you pictured a bunch of people sitting around listening while one or two people talked.
Though some meetings had more back-and-forth feedback than others, by and large meetings were often handled the same. And in some companies, they still are. That doesn’t mean that meetings (and the workplace in general) aren’t changing, however.
Modern technology has changed the way that we have meetings, and it’s even augmented the way that we look at the workplace in terms of efficiency, the potential of communications and more.
If you’re curious as to how, here are just a few of the ways that the digital age has changed how we work and have our meetings:
- The Remote Workforce: One big change in the way we work and attend meetings in the digital age is the introduction of the remote workforce.
While remote workers have been a “thing” for quite some time, they didn’t represent as significant a portion of the workforce as they do now. Instead of just being occasional freelancers who only have to deliver an end product, however, remote workers now make up a significant portion of the workforce in some industries. Managers and business owners have to take this into account when planning meetings and setting goals.
- Teleconferencing and Virtual Meetings: Teleconferencing has become a much larger portion of meetings in the digital age.
This is especially true for companies that have a lot of remote workers, but even companies with onsite workforce, like Phone.com, may use teleconferencing, including video conferencing, if there are multiple branches of the business or if they have a vendor or guest calling in.
Virtual meetings are also growing in popularity, using an internet-based interface that allows for both audio/video and text input from up to hundreds of attendees. To better service our clients, Phone.com offers every customer, no matter what plan they have, free HD audio conferencing capability.
- Telepresence: Though it’s not nearly as common as teleconferencing, telepresence technology is making it easier for some professionals to attend work functions or meetings “in person” via a hardware avatar. Telepresence attendance is mostly done through the use of remotely-controlled robots or other avatars. This will likely become much more prominent as telepresence technology continues to evolve, especially in industries where having a hands-on presence during remote meetings will improve the quality of instruction and overall communication.
- Virtual Reality: Another up-and-coming technology that’s transforming the way we meet and work is virtual reality. There are a few different ways that businesses are implementing VR and related technologies. Full virtual reality experiences aren’t very common in the workplace yet, though that isn’t to say that VR isn’t used to some extent to create demos for certain industries.
Its cousin AR, or “augmented reality,” is seeing significantly more use, however. Made popular in consumer markets by the game Pokemon GO, AR takes computer-generated images and integrates them into the surrounding environment. Businesses can use AR to show investors and managers alike the potential of an idea without actually creating full prototypes, especially in cases where the product or idea is of the “you have to see it to believe it” variety.
- Rapid Prototyping: Being able to produce a prototype or mockup of new products or concepts is an important part of development. Even when you can make an AR mockup or realistic 3D models, having something that can be seen and touched is still vital to the business world. That’s where 3D printing comes in, as it allows designers and engineers to create complex prototypes in hours instead of the days it might take to produce a prototype by traditional means. Some industries even take this a step further, using 3D printing technology in the manufacturing stage as well to create low-cost designs that would be nearly impossible to produce by other means.
Bear in mind that all of this is only the tip of the iceberg. The business world is changing by the millisecond, and the way that businesses communicate, hold meetings and even approach the concept of the workplace is changing with it. We’re still fairly early in this digital revolution, and the best is likely yet to come.