You may already be familiar with the common challenges of working virtually. Namely, fear of employee productivity (how will employees use their time if not supervised?), accessibility, employee disengagement or alienation, and potential lack of interaction and collaboration. One technology that helps circumvent all of these roadblocks is video. Here’s why:
- Video builds trust. Many managers simply do not trust that workers will use their time productively outside of a traditional office. This is actually less of an employee issue and more of a management issue. With video, managers have physical evidence of what their employees are doing and can help ease fears that employees are calling in from the golf course.
- Fighting phone fatigue. Have you ever spent a couple of hours on a conference call only to hang up the phone and feel completely exhausted? You’re not alone. Psychologists explain that this fatigue is related with missing audio information. Since traditional telephones transmit only a small portion of the audio frequencies humans generate when speaking your mind has to concentrate and work that much harder to stay engaged and absorb all the content.
- Picking up nonverbal cues. This one is the most cited benefit of video. Without being able to see the person you are communicating with , you can miss nonverbal cues such as body language and facial expressions. You may miss what is being communicated, or worse, leave the meeting with a completely inaccurate perception of the outcome. There have been several studies that have tried to demonstrate how much information we send and receive via body language versus verbal communication. The general rule of thumb is that we typically understand at a ratio of 4-to-1 when it comes to communicating both visually and verbally with someone rather than relying on verbal communication alone.
- Meeting efficiency. Being able communicate visually also leads to improved efficiency in communication. We have all been on conference calls where people are talking over one another – and in many cases they don’t even realize it. This is referred to as audio collisions. Being able to see other participants also allows people to read visual cues, adjust their communication styles as necessary, and be more effective and effortless.
- Accelerating collaboration. In a study that compared how users collaborate virtually with or without video, users (unsurprisingly) wanted video. Users believed that video added value to their interactions and made their interactions more satisfying. Note that the quality of video comes into play here. In the same study, the perception of value increased with the quality of the video system. Intuitively, this makes sense. With better resolution and less latency, users can have a much richer experience.
- Increasing interaction. Although several studies have suggested that teleworkers are more productive than their non-teleworking counterparts, I secretly believe that this productivity is related to multi-tasking. When on a conference call, virtual participants attempt to do other work at the same time. The end result is that some teleworkers are not fully engaged when they need to be. Video, like in-person communication, forces participants to provide their undivided attention.
In the very near future, video will be the new voice in terms of primary communication. Organizational leaders can get ahead of the curve now be exploring and experimenting with different video solutions.