How to Make Video Conferencing as Impactful as Possible for Internal and External Collaboration

Organizations are starting to realize the true power of video conferencing for greater collaboration, and in some cases, an opportunity to level the playing field between small businesses and national organizations.

 

Video conferencing has been around for quite a while, but as organizations have been forced to embrace remote work, they’re realizing the true power of video conferencing for greater collaboration, and in some cases, an opportunity to deliver new lines of business and/or level the playing field between small businesses and national organizations. Before you start looking for opportunities, it’s important to understand the impact of video chat on workplace relationships of all types.

The negative impact of video conferencing on relationships between co-workers…

First, we’ll review the negative impact of video conferencing on relationships between coworkers. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, we often leveraged proximity or the ability to walk up to someone to gain information or assistance. Many of us would simply think to ourselves, “I’ll just walk over to so and so and ask them for something.

Now, as we’re working remotely with the need for video conferencing, it’s created a few challenges. In a workplace setting where you can simply walk up and talk – essentially interrupting others for information – it’s easy to make sure you have the guidance or assistance you need.

In a remote work setting that relies on video conferencing, you’re essentially entering someone’s home. It’s a very personal space. If someone reaches out via video chat, it’s almost like you’ve brought them into your home without actually inviting them. Think about it… Many of us have personal or ‘telling’ belongings that can be seen behind you:

  • Religious artifacts
  • Posters/artwork
  • Awards and certificates
  • Pets/children/family members

Your surroundings can provide information about you that you may not want to share. Some individuals aren’t fortunate enough to have a space to dedicate to working. Some will have to be working from their bedroom, their kitchen or another space they may not want their coworkers to see. There’s a certain degree of intrusion involved for many individuals working from home.

This can lead to resistance for some individuals who don’t want to participate in video conferencing. They may prefer to pick up the phone or use an instant messaging service, which in turn, creates breakdowns in communication due to:

  • Lack of facial expression
  • Shorter conversations
  • Inability to share screens

Our recommendations for creating a “video-friendly” remote workforce culture…

We recommend leveraging tools that enable you to blur or replace the background. Microsoft Teams, included in Microsoft 365, offers this capability – allowing your remote workforce to work from their home without feeling any sense of intrusion. We also recommend enforcing an etiquette policy that requires remote workers to treat others how they want to be treated in terms of:

  • Giving plenty of notice in advance when a video conference call is required to ensure attendees have time to prepare their workspace and handle any obligations prior to the meeting.
  • Keeping video conference calls professional and refrain from referencing anything personal outside of “personal” video conference calls, such as virtual lunch get-togethers and coffee breaks.

The positive impact of video conferencing on relationships between co-workers…

Next, it’s important to be aware of the positive impact of video conferencing on relationships between co-workers. Video conferencing, as opposed to in-person meetings, tend to create a sense of presence – requiring undivided attention. It’s not as easy to multitask during a video conference call because you’re face-to-face and there’s a reaffirmation that you’re in a meeting and it’s time to focus.

For the majority of organizations, video conferencing minimizes the sense of isolation many employees feel when they’re working from home. They can continue to work productively, collaborate with one another, and above all, stay connected despite the physical distance between one another.

In our recent survey, 100% of organizations polled stated that video conferencing was an effective way to reduce costs and improve collaboration. In addition, 100% of organizations stated they were using video conferencing to communicate externally with clients, partners, suppliers, and those outside of the organization.

A look at the power of video conferencing for external collaboration with those outside of the organization…

There’s been a huge opportunity presented to us, despite the difficult, trying time we’re in. Many organizations are taking the new reality and introducing new lines of business for themselves. We’ve seen companies find opportunities to sell their products and services on a national level, rather than locally, because everything is closed and we’re all relying on virtual purchasing. We’re now seeing an even playing field in terms of competition between small businesses and nationwide, large enterprises.

We strongly recommend spending some time thinking about the constraints you’ve faced due to proximity, then identifying opportunities that weren’t there before. For most of us, there is potential due to:

  • New or more flexible hours of operation
  • The use of innovative mediums for communication
  • A wider prospect base as large enterprises aren’t as easily accessible

Questions about taking advantage of video conferencing during and after the COVID-19 outbreak subsides and lockdowns are lifted? Get in touch with us.

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