As employers ask workers to return to the office, will they also want more in-person meetings and fewer livestreamed events?
Return to Workplace or Work from Home?
The pandemic, for all its tragedies, enabled many employees, especially those working in technology, to do their jobs from home. IT departments ramped up their intranets with such tools as social media, video chat and project collaboration—with employees working in their pajamas with the refrigerator nearby. Or, for many, with their children at their feet.
As the pandemic eases, many employers are demanding that their employees get their butts back into the building or risk their jobs. Meetings that were all virtual are now all in-person. Fortunately, most enterprises have adopted a hybrid model; staffers may work from home some days and go into the office on others.
The question of conducting meetings in-house, all online or hybrid has yet to be answered. Let’s take a look at some research that may help us understand some directions that companies may be moving to in the use of hybrid video streaming.
Report on the Future of Hybrid Video Streaming
The use of video rose dramatically between 2021 and 2022, according to the “Enterprise Video Trends” studies. Video for internal communications was used only 15% of the time in 2021. It rose to 41% in 2022.
The pandemic spawned virtual meetings, such as Zoom, and expanded the word “hybrid” to define meetings that were both in person and streamed. Now that workers are returning to the office, will conferences continue their hybrid moniker?
The Help Me Stream Research Foundation, together with StreamingMedia.com, conducted studies in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Tim Siglin reported in Streaming Media Magazine the results of the study, titled “Enterprise Video Trends 2022.” According to Siglin, 40% of employee survey respondents stated that they anticipated attending more virtual meetings in the coming 18 months.
As for the intent of the employers, Siglin writes “companies were pushing their workforce to return the office full time and therefore downplayed the option of hybrid meetings.” This disparity aligns with news reports of employees wishing to work from home while their companies are asking them to return to the office.
Live Streaming or Video on Demand
Video On Demand (VOD) simply refers to viewing video recordings of meetings after the event, rather than via live streaming. While the excitement of an event showcasing a new product prompts viewers to want to watch a meeting in real time, the more prosaic business meetings, with reports and figures, can be equally as effective if viewed days later. While the term, Video on Demand, seems dictatorial, it started with playing a videotape in a VCR. Now, viewers get their videos online.
Should employees be required to attend a meeting at a specific time, even if it is live streamed virtually? Would workers be more efficient if they could watch a video at a time that suits them? Inevitably, there will be times when an employee cannot be in two places at once. Offering the option of VOD reduces the chance that staffers may have to cancel a meeting with an important client because their employer has required them to join a meeting, whether in person or live streamed.
Survey Results of Live Streaming Versus Video on Demand (VOD)
According to the “Enterprise Video Trends 2022” study on video use for internal communication, companies preferred live streaming (59%) over video on demand ( 41%). The stats for external communication were not much different: 57% for live streaming and 43% for VOD. According to Siglin, “The growth in on-demand consumption of enterprise video may explain why companies like Zoom…are shrinking.”
The report added that some survey respondents cited frustration with virtual meeting platforms. Rather than considering a hybrid or an all-virtual meeting, they would rather attend in person to benefit from individual conversations with other attendees and panelists. Video on demand gives them the opportunity to watch the sessions at their convenience.
Zooming Up and Zooming Down
An IPO in 2019, Zoom tripled in size in two years. Started by former Webex manager Eric Yuan, the meteoric rise in its use required the company to quickly mobilize to handle the increase in demand. Zoom developed a platform to remove the hurdles that kept users away from the existing virtual video platforms. Online video got a boost when both consumers and enterprises adopted Zoom as their go-to virtual meeting mechanism.
As the pandemic eases and workers return to the office, Zoom is suffering a downturn. With declining ad sales and expanding interest rates, the company reported a 15% reduction in its workforce.
Will Online Platforms Provide Advanced Features That Mimic Live Meetings
To keep employees and consumers connecting virtually, we may see platforms like Zoom offer such features as side conversations, ad-hoc meetings, and advanced green rooms. To bring back users to virtual and hybrid meetings, the online platforms could offer such features as the ability for users to jump from breakout room to breakout room, conduct private conversations with other individuals, and review earlier segments of a virtual meeting.
Stu Sweetow is the author of Corporate Video Production and owner of California’s Audio Visual Consultants.