Long before a global pandemic forced large numbers of employees to continue their job duties from home, remote collaboration and video conferencing technology was well on its way to uproot work as we know it. But despite the increased popularity of web-based communication tools, not all businesses were ready to jump on bandwagon. Many are now attempting to implement a fast transition to online collaboration and overcome the challenges of a changed work style.
At S-NET Communications, using online collaboration tools and video conferencing is second nature to us. Our staff has been working remotely, at least on occasion, ever since we can remember. Throughout the years, we have learned how to keep our team connected and productive, no matter where everyone is working from, and developed guidelines to set ourselves up for success.
If your team is new to video conferencing and is still getting accustomed to this new way of conducting business, we can help. Below are a few of the strategies that made the biggest impact for us and will help your organization the most.
With their wide range of features and functionalities, video conferencing and remote collaboration tools enable your staff to work together as if they shared a conference room. But if your team is new to remote work, chances are that they will need some time to get accustomed to this new form of communication. You may see delays in meetings as people attempt to log in for the first time, and messages may lose their way as your staff learns how to communicate online.
But providing your team with thorough training can go a long way in easing their transition. Learning how to use the tools at their disposal empowers your staff to continue their work from home uninterrupted. It also enables them to take full advantage of all the productivity features that they may have not had offline. Your vendor should be there for you to provide your team will all the guidance they need. Ensure that you are utilizing all the training sessions and documents they make available.
Many teams accustomed to in-person meetings are finding that their old work habits and sound notification settings no longer serve them in online meetings. Noise is cited among the main challenges businesses face when new to video conferencing. It can take many forms, from phone ringing and loud typing to email notifications and background chatter – all equally disruptive to the conversation at hand. But there is probably nothing worse than a team member incapacitating the whole call with soft jazz by accidentally putting the conference on hold. Does that sound painfully familiar?
Using the features of your video conferencing application and teaching your team how to adjust their settings can help keep your calls noise free. Most video conferencing apps enable users to mute themselves during calls, un-mute when they would like to contribute to the conversation, and allow moderators to mute the entire group if needed. In addition, asking your staff to call in from a quiet room, turn off various sound notifications and silence their phones during calls can all positively impact your group’s overall meeting experience, as well as their level of focus. Even small changes, such as using headphones instead of built-in audio, can dramatically reduce echoes and loud typing during your calls. Your team will thank you for it.
Video Conferencing and online collaboration software puts a wide range of channels at your team’s disposal, including softphone applications, screen sharing, file transfer and chat messaging. Leading vendors, such as S-NET, constantly strive to improve their software and develop new functionalities based on customer feedback. Taking advantage of all these features is what enables your distributed team to collaborate as if they shared a conference room.
Use screen sharing to review or edit documents together and ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding a project. Team chat can be a great tool to send clickable links, transfer files, and enable participants to ask questions or post comments during large-group meetings. Engage your vendor if you are unsure what features are available to your organization and make sure to keep your team’s training up-to-date as new functionalities are introduced.
With a large percentage of U.S. workers now tending to their task lists from the comfort of their homes, it can be tempting to throw all the rules of the office out the window. But company policies transferred over to a new remote work setting can go a long way in creating a professional atmosphere, keeping meetings on-task, as well as maintaining a positive company image when clients or partners participate in a call.
Basic requirements, such as dressing appropriately, being on time, following the meeting agenda and communicating respectfully with peers should become just as natural during video conferences as they are at the office. Teaching your team basic video conferencing etiquette helps create a business-like atmosphere and keeps conversations focused. As an added bonus, it also prevents your employees from becoming the next viral video conferencing meme.
One of the most common complaints among remote workers is loneliness. Employees who are new to working from home are particularly susceptible to feeling isolated, especially during a global pandemic that has dramatically uprooted their entire social lives. Helping your team form strong bonds at work is always important, as it improves overall trust, collaboration, motivation and productivity. But helping them through such unusual circumstances can dramatically impact how your organization copes with this unprecedented crisis.
Asking your team to use video during conference calls can decrease feelings of loneliness, and enables your staff to connect on a more personal level. Even camera-shy employees find themselves uplifted by the experience once they get accustomed to seeing themselves on the screen. In addition, introducing virtual social events, such as video team buildings or happy hours, can make up for some of the water-cooler chat and office banter that your team misses. Give your team an opportunity to connect with each other and see how overall team morale and collaboration improves.
As many teams are transitioning to full-time remote work, there can be a steep learning curve as employees get accustomed to maximizing their productivity under new circumstances. But providing your team with advanced collaboration features, empowering them to use the technology successfully and showing them how to adjust their work habits can go a long way in easing their transition. With a few simple changes, you can manage noise and distractions, create a professional environment, improve your staff’s morale and set up your business for long-term success.