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Will Most Meetings Soon Be Remote?


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In last year’s Gartner Magic Quadrant report for Meeting Solutions, the big news, at least to me, wasn’t about which vendor had made its way into the coveted upper right-hand quadrant of this always-influential report on this segment of the tech industry. The real news was a statistic about why this all matters. According to Gartner, by 2024, only 25% of enterprise meetings will take place in person, versus 60% today. 

Honestly, I was surprised to read that we’re already at the point where 40% of meetings take place remotely. The idea that three-quarters of meetings will be conducted over the network within five years is impressive. 

What’s equally noteworthy is that the trend isn’t totally being driven by inexorable forces like globalization, industry partnerships, or talent shortages that force enterprises to look farther afield for qualified people. To some extent, according to Gartner, more meetings are going remote because that’s what people want. 

The report explains that Gartner studied digital workers to understand “shifts and trends in their sentiments and expectations, their level of engagement, and their satisfaction with the applications that their organization provides.” The study found that, “Workers prefer to have fewer face-to-face meetings than they do today. Also, workers feel they now have sufficient technology to meet from anywhere.” 

Gartner found that enterprise leaders also hope to gain workplace benefits from remote meeting technology. According to the report, customers’ top five desired outcomes from deploying meeting solutions were: 

  1. Creating operational efficiencies 
  2. Cost management 
  3. Driving innovation 
  4. Improving business process agility 
  5. Enhancing decision making 

Note that these are desired outcomes, not necessarily those achieved. Also, tech decision-makers, as is generally the case, seem most focused on hard-ROI issues, like saving time or money, placing these priorities above the “softer” business benefits. Still, the findings about employees’ attitudes clearly seem to suggest you can get the business benefits once you make the case for the ROI. 

There’s a lot in Gartner’s findings to inform enterprises’ workspace strategies. On the one hand, the projected increase in remote meetings suggests that when any workspace is being modified, the enterprise ought to make sure it is keeping up with demand for video/remote meetings, of which there will be a lot more.

That could mean a need for more huddle spaces or other types of meeting rooms. However, there was this interesting nugget in the Gartner report: “Younger demographics do more video from their desks and laptops rather than from office meeting rooms.” That finding suggests that the need for dedicated meeting rooms may not track the demand for video and other remote meeting technologies. 

One final data point that hints at what the videoconference experience might soon look like. According to the report, by 2022, “40% of formal meetings will be facilitated by virtual concierges and advanced analytics.” In other words, those easy-to-use, AI-driven interfaces really are coming, and soon, according to Gartner. That suggests the possibility for a virtuous circle: The more that meetings move from in-person to video/online, the higher the demand for simple, tech-assisted interfaces. And as these interfaces arrive and it becomes easier to join meetings, the more comfortable people will become using video for meetings, thus driving even more adoption of the technology. 

The bottom line: As technology, demographic, and economic factors drive more dispersion of work, enterprises will need to make sure that their workspace strategies keep up.