Ever feel like the more meetings you attend, the less work gets done by everyone? You're not alone. In today's hybrid workplace, whether it's in a large meeting room or on virtual conference calls, huddle time can take a toll on productivity.

What is the Collaboration Paradox?

Behavioral experts coined the term collaboration paradox to describe increased efforts to collaborate that can actually result in decreased productivity. Unsurprisingly, a simple Google search yields endless statistics about time wasted in unproductive meetings.

Several factors contribute to the collaboration paradox:

  • Information overload: With more people involved, there's more information to share and process, which can lead to confusion and decision paralysis.
  • Communication challenges: Communication difficulties can arise when people are geographically dispersed or have different communication styles.
  • Coordination problems: Coordinating the work of multiple people is difficult, especially when they have different deadlines and priorities.
  • Social loafing: This is the tendency for individuals to exert less effort when in a group, compared to when working alone. When others are present, it’s easy for everyone to assume someone else will take the lead.
  • Tool overload: There are plenty of collaboration tools available, but using too many can hinder collaboration by creating confusion and fragmentation.

Mastering Successful Collaborations

Overcoming the collaboration paradox starts with preparation before the meeting is convened.

  • Set clear goals and expectations. Make sure everyone knows what they are supposed to do and how their work fits into the bigger picture. Collaboration works best when teammates leverage their unique strengths . Skills replication leads to internal competition and diminished individual ownership. Collaborative work requires everyone to be leaders in their field of expertise. Think: rock band, not karaoke night!
  • Establish clear communication channels. Teams should have clear guidelines for how to communicate with each other, such as which channels to use for different types of communication. Not everything should be done at a meeting (e.g., email for non-urgent updates, instant messaging for quick questions).
  • Think alone, share together. Do your homework. Meetings are for building on ideas, not generating them. Throwing around concepts in a group can be fun, but the real legwork often happens before the meeting, in the solo brainstorming stage. When we come prepared with independent thoughts, we can evaluate ideas more effectively, instead of scrambling to form them from scratch in the heat of the moment.

AI Video Conferencing Tools Help with Housekeeping Tasks

Tasks meant to facilitate collaboration and effective communication can often become obstacles. For example, sending meeting notes and action items can be tedious and time-consuming, and often get neglected or forgotten. Lack of clarity on decisions made at a meeting and missing information leave teams in limbo.

A recent survey by Zoom found that over half of employees want regular summaries and action items, but only 39% receive them. This creates a paradoxical situation where the time and effort invested in collaborating can obstruct progress.

AI can help overcome these challenges by automating tasks, enhancing engagement, and personalizing the meeting experience. Respondents in the same survey who use AI tools at work see significant time savings, with 74% of leaders and 46% of employees saying it saves them at least an hour a day.

Some of the key ways AI is transforming video conferencing include:

  • Noise cancellation and speech enhancement: AI can filter out background noise and enhance the clarity of speakers' voices, ensuring everyone can be heard clearly. AI acoustics is embedded in many of AVer's video bars while scalable speakerphones ensure audio clarity that hits all the right notes and make every call feel like a face-to-face conversation.
  • Audio tracking: AI-tracking cameras can utilize audio to automatically track the speaker and adjust the zoom to keep them in focus.
  • Automatic framing: A smart dual-lens camera can track movement and keep everyone in the frame, automatically adjusting for newcomers in real-time.
  • Human detection: Say goodbye to blurry faces and awkward angles with AVer’s Smart Gallery, which precisely detects faces and bodies, dynamically cropping participants and ensuring everyone's looking their best in the spotlight. Meanwhile, other AI functions can swiftly capture high-quality closeup images of meeting participants.
  • Automatic transcription and closed captioning: AI can transcribe spoken words in real-time, making meetings more accessible for people with hearing impairments and those who prefer to follow along visually. This can also be helpful for language learners or anyone who wants to quickly review what was discussed.
  • Meeting summarization and action items: AI can analyze the content of a meeting and automatically generate a summary of key points and action items. This saves time and helps to ensure everyone is on the same page after the meeting.
  • Virtual assistants: AI-powered virtual assistants can fast-track tasks like scheduling meetings, formulating meeting agendas, and analyzing individual communication preferences to provide personalized recommendations, such as suggesting breaking up a long meeting into shorter sessions or recommending interactive activities to keep participants engaged.

The Upshot

Moving beyond the exhausting cycle of unproductive meetings requires preparation and shared ownership to make collaboration more effective. We can do this by understanding the collaboration paradox and taking advantage of AI tools, many of which work behind the scenes in conferencing software to help us focus our work and promote clear communication.