Meetings are a fact of business life. We need them to work together. And when meetings go well – everyone knows the agenda, is ready to collaborate, and the meeting technology is working – they’re a model of workplace productivity.

Meetings are also the reason many of us – myself included – feel the effects of video fatigue. In this past year, collaboration technology has kept us together constantly during the pandemic. As a recent Stanford study shows, all that time in front of our screens takes its toll on our minds and bodies.

That’s why the last thing any of us need is technology that adds to our frustration.

More meetings, more (potential) problems

We talk about wanting and enjoying the in-person experience that goes with getting back to the office. But before the pandemic turned our routines upside down, conference room meetings weren’t always seamless connections between users and devices or between teams near and far. And as companies – maybe yours – put together a work routine of a few days at the office and a few days working from home, you can expect we’ll have streams of back-to-back meetings to fill out our calendars, because that’s the only way to keep us working as a team.

That means a lot of time spent in conference rooms and connecting from our laptops. A lot of time where we need collaboration tools to work perfectly.

But when devices don’t work as expected, the meeting agenda takes a back seat to solving technical issues. These are the issues we don’t have the time or patience to deal with, like:

  • My laptop isn’t connecting to the room display.
  • Why isn’t the room codec connecting to the far end of this call?
  • The audio cuts in and out.
  • I have to shut off my video to get a decent connection.
  • The camera in the room won’t turn on, and the far end can’t see us.

How do I know what the cause is? I don’t. I just know I need this meeting to work right now and it doesn’t. It delays my work, which now piles up because the tasks don’t suddenly stop because you can’t work on them effectively. It embarrasses our company because we can’t connect with our clients.

It’s not just the few minutes it takes to get the meeting going that takes up our valuable time. When your collaboration tools don’t work, at least some of your day will be consumed with tracking down the source of the problem. You have to take the time to submit a ticket to your IT team so they have the task of figuring out what went wrong. Was it user error due to insufficient training? Were the devices set up properly? Are the devices working?

The perils of meeting limbo

Even before technology fails us, we can be stuck in meeting limbo. This is where we wonder, with no small amount of frustration:

  • Who is supposed to launch the call?
  • Are we launching from the room codec, and if so, which number do we use?
  • How do we use the control panel on the conference table to start the call?
  • Why can’t the person on the far end connect with us?

And then there’s that big question that captures all our frustrations:

Why isn’t this easier?

We go into the office wanting a perfect experience with technology. When technology solutions don’t work as expected, it disrupts our progress and we end up behind in our work.  And frustrated.

So I put in the call to IT. Now it’s up to them to figure out what I and my coworkers couldn’t and make sure this doesn’t happen again.