Informal Meeting Spaces Double Since 2018, Tech on the Rise Even Before COVID-19

Meetings, Futuresource Consulting, UK, COVID-19, Usa, McIntyre-Brown, Substantial Long-term Opportunity, AV market, Vendors, Chris McIntyre-Brown


Meetings are becoming more frequent, less structured and less formal, with nearly 40% of companies reporting that employees have regularly been holding meetings in ad-hoc spaces like kitchens, foyers and reception areas. That’s twice as many as in 2018, according to a recently-published end user project carried out by Futuresource Consulting across the UK, USA, Germany and France. The study, completed earlier this year with over 2,500 end users and decision makers, builds on Futuresource’s annual programme of research in this area and reveals an upward trend for informal meetings and remote participants.

Open Plan Working Demands Disruption-free Meetings
“How and where people meet continues to evolve,” says Chris McIntyre-Brown, Associate Director at Futuresource Consulting. “While encouraging closer collaboration and stronger team bonds, the rise of the open plan office has also created a demand for informal meeting areas where team members can meet in a disruption-free setting. And while 38% of companies are using ad-hoc spaces for meetings, even more have been investing in dedicated technology for these spaces, suggesting a rapid uptick once the COVID-19 situation is under control.”

52% of respondents reported an increase in the weekly average amount of time spent meeting remotely using conferencing technology. This will clearly increase as the world recovers from COVID-19. In the USA, almost one in every three respondents also stated that they preferred teleconferencing over face-to-face meetings. This rising trend in remote meetings has been driven by an increase in the number of off-site and contract workers.

However, its important to note that these trends are not coming at the expense of traditional meeting spaces where demand for an ever widening range of AV products goes from strength to strength. “Right across display, collaboration, audio and room control, we have seen strong growth in room investments from 2018,” says McIntyre-Brown, “As we move forward, more of these devices will be network enabled which will lead to an increase in remote monitoring and analytics. Ultimately we expect this to drive demand in AV Managed Services.”

Content Sharing Now More Important than Saving Time
“In our 2018 wave of research, the primary reason respondents gave for using conferencing technologies was to save time,” says McIntyre-Brown. “In 2020 that was usurped by the ability to share content. As a result, we’re expecting to see a greater focus on display quality as the industry moves forward. Vendors will try to replicate the quality and experience of face-to-face meetings in their video conferencing solutions, and HD and 4K displays will become the expected norm.”

Smart buildings continue to move to the fore as well, with the survey revealing that 17% of companies are already operating smart building solutions and another 10% of companies are planning to invest by 2023. While there is a multitude of technologies, services and platforms underpinning the smart building trend, AV is a common interface for employees and is playing a pervasive role in the rise of the smart building.

A Substantial Long-term Opportunity
“With close to 11 million meeting rooms across Western Europe and North America, and over 9 million ad-hoc spaces, there is a significant opportunity for those technology vendors who are able to develop and maintain a foothold in the marketplace,” says McIntyre-Brown. “As we emerge from the challenge of Coronavirus and the world returns to normal, the landscape will have broadened. Many more companies will have experimented with and embraced the collaboration benefits of remote meetings and agile teams. In addition, breakout spaces and ad-hoc meetings will form the nucleus of face-to-face meetings, with all signs pointing to a long-term strengthening of the enterprise AV market.”

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