The remote working trend could last beyond the pandemic. Legal IT teams need to focus their attention on getting the right conferencing technology in place for the future
The coronavirus outbreak has forced many firms to embrace working from home at its most extreme. It has also made it necessary for IT departments to evaluate the suitability of their remote meeting tools. For many it’s a wake-up call that their existing solution is not simple, secure or reliable enough for their needs. But while some conferencing tools are found wanting, others are demonstrating their resilience and suitability for remote working.
As firms look to life post Covid-19, it is clear that remote working will become a bigger trend. Office-based employees will work from home more often and there will be an increase in the number of full-time remote workers. IT teams should now be considering the right solution for the long-term.
So, as you evaluate your technology, here are four questions to ask:
The tool needs to be simple enough that someone using it for the first time will feel comfortable. Partners should feel confident scheduling and joining calls themselves, rather than relying on assistants or colleagues to set them up. Clients joining a meeting shouldn’t be overwhelmed by complex features and should be able to join a meeting without needing to download any software. Make sure you find a tool that is as simple and intuitive as possible, so that it can be used without the need for training.
The one feature that is critical to any remote meeting is audio reliability. Inaudible guests, dropped calls and delayed audio can all negatively affect the flow of a meeting. Most web conferencing platforms use VoIP to carry audio, sending packets of data over the internet. Any loss of packets leads to ‘jitter’ – words are jumbled or missing altogether. This is a particular problem when users join conference calls using home broadband over the public internet and creating choke points as they enter a corporate network. By contrast, remote meeting solutions that route all calls over regular phone lines and only use the internet for screen sharing and video always deliver increased audio reliability.
Look for features that improve remote meetings for your partners. Screensharing allows participants to view content together, rather than emailing documents and hoping everyone is on the same page. Adding video to a call can improve communication and engagement when used in the right setting. But make sure you focus on the features that people actually use. The main pitfall that many IT teams fall into is choosing a solution that is feature-heavy. The danger is that people will feel overwhelmed and confused by the tool and it will go unutilized. Don’t assume that you need a one-size-fits-all conferencing solution to get the job done; some companies have more than one tool to cater for all their teams.
Traditionally, basic dial-in conferencing has been prone to security breaches because there’s no way of knowing exactly who’s on the call. This leads to unexpected guests listening in – often inadvertently (e.g., a meeting overruns and guests dial in for the next call), but occasionally for malicious reasons. Web and video conferencing software solutions offer this visibility but are not immune to security challenges. More recently, security flaws have been identified with some of the most commonly used tools. Users have been left vulnerable to spying, denial of service attacks and malware. Regardless of the product you choose, make sure that the security features are aligned with your company’s standards for security and compliance.
Law firms will be judged not just on how they fare over the next few months – whether they continue to manage operations and client service delivery – but on their ability to effectively collaborate with clients, colleagues and other firms in the long run. Having the right tools for effective communication will play an essential role. If you feel your solution is lacking – now is the time to make a switch.
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