I showed up early to a video conference the other day, and as I sat in the room I saw something that is probably a common occurrence in many offices around the country. I watched a presenter cart in a box of expensive and not to mention heavy video conferencing equipment, look at it with utter confusion, then immediately call their tech support staff. Once the techs arrived they spent a good 20 minutes connecting the equipment, hooking it up to a TV that was so old I can only assume it saw the premiere of the Dick Van Dyke show, and fiddled with the unit till it was set up properly.
“Wow what a pain.” I thought to myself. “At least it’s all setup now.”
Boy was I ever wrong. This was but one piece of the puzzle. I then watched as they spent another 15 minutes getting the camera to the correct angle, and zoomed properly. Still not done. Now it had to connect and of course that didn’t work either. Another 30 minutes went by before the connection would work. The techs claimed that the port wasn’t set up for video conferencing, and once it was they were running into issues on the other side of the call. Sure some of this came down to poor preparation, but the real problem is the method. They eventually got it working and “voila!” We are in business!
As I watched all this go on I kept thinking to myself, “in a world where I can press 2 buttons on my phone, pc, or tablet and make a video call, why on earth is this so difficult?” With software like FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangout, and Tango making video chat easier than easier, why are still forcing ourselves to use this outdated method to connect to each other? The hardware they were using for the meeting cost them over $7000 dollars, and they said that due to the frustration they experience when trying to set it up, they’ve only used it a handful of times. The presenter told me they have to have that type of equipment because it’s the only way to view the video conferences. So we aren’t dealing with a single location, but a culture that needs to move forward. I’m sure there are many other organizations, especially local and county governments out there who hold on tightly to their old ways, regardless of frustration.
We have made communication incredibly accessible and easy for ourselves as consumers, but not as workers. It’s time that we take the innovation and accessibility we have applied to our personal devices and apply it to the workplace.