There is a general understanding that technology exists to make our lives easier — especially in the business environment. From video conferencing and cloud. Technology, to smart devices and mobile working, advances in technology are certainly changing the way we do things. When it comes to more traditional aspects of work life — like the humble meeting — again there’s the expectation that technology enhances and simplifies the experience.
Technology-Related Meeting Stress
However, in recent research commissioned by Barco and carried out by technology market research firm Vanson Bourne, the opposite was found to be true. Technology adds to the stress of the situation and is often counter-productive.
In a survey gauging the attitudes of 1,000 office workers from around the world toward meeting room technology it was revealed that close to 90% of respondents said they had suffered technology-related stress in meetings, while more than half experienced inefficiencies that affected performance, effectiveness of the meeting and wasted time all due to issues with the technology. Four out of 10 experienced anger and frustration as a result of unreliable technology, while one-third of respondents experienced decreased morale.
Missed Deadlines & Opportunities
While it’s not a leap to suggest office workers do experience technology issues, what the study also found was that the negative impact of unreliable technology often extended beyond the meeting room. Almost one-quarter of respondents (24%) said they’d missed a deadline or important actions as a result of malfunctioning meeting room technology. A further 12% said they had missed out on a sale or winning business, but worryingly, one in 10 reported they had missed out on personal opportunities, such as credit or promotions.
The study also found that seven out of 10 office workers reported that they regularly experience stress in trying to share meeting information with different people. This included 62% saying they often find simply using meeting conference technology stressful; and more than half (58%) frequently find sharing content or screens during meetings using technology stressful.
More Than Just Irritation
And stress is not just a matter of opinion either — the research also included a study by MindLab International, a neuromarketing and market research company, into the emotional and physiological implications of meeting room technology struggles. Unsurprisingly, the study showed that participants’ peak stress levels were 63% higher when technology problems occurred in meetings than when meetings ran smoothly. Indeed, participants’ heart rates reached 179bpm when they were trying to hold a meeting and the technology they were using did not work. Considering that resting heart rates fall between 60-100 bpm, the exceedingly high 179bpm is a key indicator of serious stress.
Collaboration between teams, colleagues, and prospects forms a vital part of today’s business environment so there is value in ensuring participants get the most from the technology that enables these meetings. Almost nine out of 10 (86%) participants in the study believe that improving meeting room technology would lead to an increase in productivity.
The Perfect Meeting Room Technology
But what does this all meeting for IT managers? In the research, respondents selected their top five technology capabilities that they thought would make a meeting run smoother. These included one-touch technology (51%), wireless technology with no cables (44%), sharing data with ease from any device (44%), easily conferencing with colleagues from different locations (40%) and high quality picture and sound (39%).
For office workers, from consultants to creatives, meetings form part of a routine day, there is just no getting away from them. And given that time pressures, deadlines and targets are also standard features in a business day, it is crucial that the technology supporting operations is a help and not a hindrance. For IT managers this begins with looking at the needs of the user and matching those needs to a technology solution. In the meeting room environment particularly, usability is crucial in avoiding stress — this may mean addressing issues such as compatibility (different devices and different operating systems), wireless capability and ease of sharing to ensure that not only that stress is kept to a minimum, but also that the technology actually gets used as intended and the organisation’s technology investment delivers a return.