- Video technology in the workplace can make it easy to keep the team working together smoothly.
- Successful integration and an easy user interface are crucial to video’s success.
- Don’t relegate the technology to just meetings, use it for fun too and employees will be more likely to get on board.
One day, holographic video conferencing will be the norm, completely removing the need for anyone to leave home to go to the office. Until that day though, video conferencing provides the next best thing.
As Australian workplaces continue to enable flexibility, including here at PwC, video conferencing is becoming a critical part of an employee’s toolkit to ensure they stay engaged with their colleagues both when working from home and connecting with other offices interstate and globally.
The technology has come a long way since the pixelated stuttering of its youth. Like all technology, introducing or upgrading video conferencing capabilities has the potential to transform the way an organisation works. But if it isn’t done well, it will all but guarantee employees won’t get on board and you’ll be left with what amounts to very expensive room decorations.
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Most employees won’t have the technical background to understand which cords go where and what terms mean what – nor should they need to. Use as much plain English as possible, ensure programs being used are intuitive and easy to use and really push the IT team to make the entire experience as easy as they can.
Small barriers like additional usernames or passwords, long pin-codes or only working on specific networks may not seem like a big hurdle to the IT department, but these can really impact the user experience and thus the level of adoption.
In today’s world, data is king and using it can really unlock the secrets to a great video adoption program. Use whatever devices are at your disposal to identify who your organisation’s early adopters and power-users are and enlist them to help get their colleagues or suggest the use of the equipment.
Find out who is avoiding the change and why in order to help them along the journey or gain valuable feedback to settings or equipment that may need to be adapted.
Remember when calling interstate would incur extra charges and international calls required a business case to place? The attitude that video calls should only be used for certain meetings or organised for specific occasions means that there is less time getting comfortable in front of a camera (a genuine and understandable hurdle for people), and less time learning how to use video effectively.
While factors such as bandwidth limitations and licensing may be a barrier, integrating video into as many meetings and interactions as possible gives everyone more opportunity to make it a part of their default behaviour, and more confidence should they run into issues with it.
Your workplace also needs to be conducive to great quality calls too. Webcams and laptops on raised arms to ensure cameras are well positioned and access to high speed wifi and proper lighting is going to go a long way in reducing vanity issues and stopping staff from hiding behind video-mute.
It’s no good to have crystal clear video if no-one can hear you. Rooms that use well placed microphones and speakers that let everyone participate are a non-negotiable. Calls over the internet are always going to be susceptible to changes in bandwidth and network congestion, but ensuring that your network is prioritising audio traffic above all else will make sure calls go smoothly even in peak traffic times.
When making video calls from a laptop, tablet or phone a good quality headset is paramount. While the headphones included with your mobile phone may sound great when listening to music on the train, do they have enough noise cancelling so that everyone on the call isn’t distracted by the conversation next to you? Is there enough density so that everyone using a wireless headset in the office isn’t creating a bluetooth nightmare?
Offering a range of headset fits and connectivity during pilot stages and listening to feedback from employees ensures that any hardware introduced is embraced, rather than stuffed in the bottom drawer or locker. At PwC, we completed a number of pilots with a number of headsets before landing on a winning combination.
Take your watercooler conversations to the next level by including those working remote in your casual conversations. Activities like footy tipping, birthday celebrations and reward and recognition can work great over video and create a truly inclusive and flexible workplace.
At the end of last year PwC hosted a celebratory get-together on the announcement that the Australian same sex marriage plebiscite had resulted in a ‘yes’ majority. A physical party in every state and speeches from various employees in different locations all connected with video really made the team feel as one, despite the hundreds of kilometres between offices.
There are of course many more considerations when it comes to whether or not installing video conferencing is right for your business, but these are five areas that if done right will go along way to implementation success.
Above all, companies need to address the needs of employees in diverse locations in order to have everyone working towards the same goals.
Video is a fantastic way to do it.