Across the world, billions of meetings are called every day. Recently, business meetings have begun to leverage new technologies. This reflects the changing ways we collaborate. Many of the whys of business meetings remain the same – to brainstorm, train, develop strategy, and the like. The where and how of meetings, however, are undergoing a significant shift. This, in turn, is having a major impact on companies’ conference room strategies.
You probably imagined a spacious space with a long table in the centre. There is enough seating for 10 or more people. The atmosphere is solemn, if not solemn. The front of the room most likely had a whiteboard. This is the perfect representation of a regular conference room. However, be prepared to invent something new, since reality is rapidly changing. The ways we meet are fast changing in lockstep with a developing work culture that demands increasing cooperation. Organizations are creating a variety of collaborative meeting venues to suit these developments. Many of these are beginning to supplant the typical conference room.
Once the privilege of a few key players, flexible work arrangements are increasingly common. For example, work-at-home time among the non-self-employed grew 103% between 2005 – 2015. Mobile device effectiveness and social acceptance have converged. This created a climate that no longer required everyone to be physically present to conduct a successful meeting. Collaborative meetings can now span continents and conference tables with virtually equal ease.
Ushered in by the laptop, mobility laid the foundation for the sea change in the way we work. Today, powerful mobile devices let us take work wherever we go. Our laptops, tablets, and smartphones are our constant companions. Sophisticated mobility software and advanced data security have further enabled new options for when and where we work.
Together, these technologies are fueling rapid change. Structured, scheduled meetings are giving way to short, ad hoc, on-demand or just-in-time exchanges. Collaborative meetings now convene on a dime, when inspiration strikes. The communication solutions that bolster collaborative meetings are becoming more robust. Mobile workers and distributed teams have become more efficient thanks to the shift from hardware to software-based architectures. This allows for a wider distribution of download-and-install audio, video, and data sharing communication clients. Anytime, anyplace and now anyone. Convening collaborative meetings is easier and more individualized than ever.
Cloud-based personal communication services have altered the ways in which business workers choose to connect. Among the top players: Skype for Business, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Jabber. Easy instant messaging (IM) and personal and group video conferencing solutions add to the options.
Millennials are the first generation to grow up surrounded by empowering technology. They now account for 30% of today’s workforce and are the largest single generation in the workplace. Digital natives, Millennials have distinctly different work styles and expectations than prior generations. They are highly motivated by peer relationships. And they’re steeped in the interactive culture of social media.