Can advanced “telepresence” — heavyweight fixed-location videoconferencing systems from the likes of Cisco, HP, and Polycom — help web workers be more effective? Could their HDTV-sharp life-size images make virtual meetings the standard and make business travel obsolete? Or is the untethered web workforce better served by more mobile modes of communication?
Steve Adubato of the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports on an insurance company’s eight-location videoconferencing installation that was less than successful:
In theory, the videoconferencing was supposed to be interactive and allow for everyone to communicate in a more dynamic and productive fashion. Yet, six months into the videoconferencing experiment, several frustrated managers said they felt “too distant” and “disconnected” when they were not located at the same site where the meeting leader was speaking
Andy Abramson of VoIP Watch says these systems don’t serve the bulk of the workforce:
The only people who would want to invest in a system that is “based” in a “fixed” location would be the status seeking, sedentary executive who wants to “show off” what they have.
Alec Saunders says that the place to look for growth and benefit is in video chat:
With virtually every laptop sold today incorporating a web cam, and the quality of those cameras steadily increasing, it’s only a matter of time before the natural way to have a conversation will be by video.
Web Worker Daily’s Mike Gunderloy has questioned telepresence for web workers, saying “it doesn’t offer a lot to the web worker who is already out on the cutting edge of multiple methods of connectivity.” Our multiple methods of connectivity add up to that dynamic communication and collaboration that fixed-location videoconferencing is supposed to achieve, and we can access them wherever we have our laptops or phones.