Audio conferencing and video conferencing are not new technologies for business. So why do we still talk about them like they are innovative additions to the workplace?

Voice and video have been done. You can find audio conferencing and video conferencing anywhere. Cisco proved you can run it on data links and Microsoft showed us that you can run it with software. There are lots of options and ways to access low-cost voice and, increasingly, low cost video. Many of the consumer applications like FaceTime and Skype are being adopted by businesses around the world. We are all familiar with these applications, but I argue that they don’t offer anything really new or innovative to the team experience.

Connecting and communicating are not enough. The next focus needs to be on collaboration. When employees remotely join a meeting using voice or video, they do enter the in-room conversation – no question – but how productive can you really be without collaboration? And when I think of collaboration, I’m not referring to one person leading the meeting and everyone just following along – that’s not collaboration. I am talking about really working together.

Teams need to work together on a shared document or design during a meeting to get work done. If a team doesn’t leave the meeting with something new to work from (instead of having notes that direct them towards what they need to do to create something new), has that team really been productive? My thought is no, they weren’t as productive as they could be.

We need to start actually working together during meetings, leveraging tools that are easy to use and enable true collaboration. We have all mastered voice and video applications, let’s take the next step and take a closer look at how you conduct meetings and if your team is really working collaboratively.

Most of all, I just want to challenge you to think beyond voice and video, to envision meeting where you do more than just talk about work, and, instead, actually get work done.