Zooming Off: The Do’s and Don’ts of video conferencing
Video conferencing has become an essential technology used by many small businesses during COVID-19. While many offices shut down and turned to working from home, this tool became an invaluable resource as a replacement for in-person communication. As more businesses continue to go “back to normal,” or redefine the term itself, employees are finding ways to integrate this tool into their new workplace. How can small business owners best use this tool for maximum success in their office?
FIND THE RIGHT APPLICATION
While Zoom has become a catch all term for all video conferencing softwares, there are other options available that may better suit your needs. Three of the largest platforms used for video conferencing are Google Meetings, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. All three offer both free and paid account plans. The paid plans come with enhanced features including extended time on a call, different host permissions, and recording properties. When choosing a platform, it may be helpful to determine if you need any of these options before investing in a paid account.
Additionally, consider the other communication applications your office uses, and which platform may work best with it. For example, if your business email is hosted through Gmail, the obvious choice would be to try out Google Meetings for video conferencing. Using complementary softwares limits the need for manually adding contacts and integrating other softwares within the system. These two points of consideration will help you find the product that best fits your need, and potentially save you money as you invest in your office’s technology.
SYNC WITH OTHER OFFICE SOFTWARES
Regardless of what platform you use, there are a few shortcuts to set up to get the most efficient use of your application. All these platforms offer connections to existing communication softwares to make scheduling meetings easier. Once you pick a product, be sure to investigate all available integrations and take the time to set them up on the front end, saving you time when scheduling meetings in the future. One of the most important integrations to set up is your business calendar, allowing your chosen application to access existing calendar items and easily add all new video meetings directly. Additionally, there are other software integrations that can be of use. If you use a project management tool, such as Slack, Monday, or Trello, you can connect these accounts as well.
HAVE AN AGENDA
To make the best use of your lengthy video calls, have a clear plan of what you hope to accomplish. While these tools can be extremely helpful in breaking down communication barriers that come with distance, it can also be a major time drain. Creating clear goals for each meeting and letting others on your team know what those goals are, will allow you to keep track of the time you are spending on these meetings.
Some quick questions to ask yourself when scheduling a call:
· What do I hope to communicate to my team?
· What points of conversation need to be communicated on the call and what can be said in an email or memo?
· Who needs to be involved in the meeting?
· How much time do we need?
· How often do we need to do a team “check-in” through video conferencing?
While video conferencing is most often used in the workplace as an alternative for in-person business meetings, it can also be used in a more informal way. While employees are working remotely, this tool offers employers an easy way to “check-in” on those you don’t see face-to-face. These calls can be a bit more “impromptu” in nature and create a conversational space for you and your employees to connect. Taking the time to have these short calls can fortify office relationships and establish more communication between in-person and remote employees.
Lastly, as you adjust to the changing workspace, the need for video conferencing will almost certainly increase in certain areas and decrease in others. As you navigate those shifts, it is important to empower those on your team to decline meetings if it impedes their workflow. One practical way to combat this is blocking off hours in your calendar for “no video” communication, so you and your team have clear pockets of time where they know they can prioritize their specific tasks in that time. There is a learning curve when evaluating how best to use this tool, and each office must find the balance of how to best incorporate it into their daily workflow.
These tips may help you determine which product works best for your business, and how to use it to its best degree. Ultimately, the more you integrate various communication processes together the easier the “tech” will work for you.
For more information on how to implement the right technology in your workplace, contact us.