The current flu season and concerns about the COVID-19 virus are seeing many businesses review their approach to managing sickness within the workforce. Should employees who are unwell come into the office and risk passing on their illness? Ideally not, but work pressures can often make workers feel like they HAVE to travel to the office — for a critical meeting or even just to be “seen” - even though video conferencing (opens in new tab) should make the option simple, easy, and affordable to implement.
Paul Clark, Senior Vice President, EMEA Managing Director, at Polycom.
At the same time the UK’s Department of Transport has reported that reducing the number of face-to-face meetings can have a significant impact on the environment and cut business travel budgets. Thus, raising the need for organisations to discuss and question current flexible and remote working policies.
This couldn’t come at a better time to assist in the fight against climate change too. The aviation industry is under scrutiny to meet its 2050 zero carbon emissions target and many businesses are striving to meet their own carbon footprint reductions to show they are taking responsibility.
But how can you make remote meetings and team work as impactful as being at your workplace in person? The answer lies in ensuring productive, meaningful collaboration online (opens in new tab) that builds the engagement, trust and candour associated with face-to-face meetings.
Here are four ways you can make virtual meetings as effective as those that happen in-person.
1. Ensure focused discussions through high-quality audio
Whether your employees are working from a noisy open office, a busy café or at home in a room full of children or pets, there’s a constant stream of distractions that inhibits meeting participants from fully focusing on a virtual meeting.
You can’t lean in closer to the person speaking to hear them better, and frantically turning up the volume might make the voices of participants louder, but it won’t block out your background noise.
Invest in headsets with Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) technology to block out background noise, so employees can stay focused and immerse themselves in a meeting. Good quality headsets (opens in new tab) will also ensure that the users’ voices can be heard with perfect clarity, making sure their contributions come across loud and clear to other participants (without the background noise).
2. Make online meetings interactive
Create online meeting environments that promote collaboration and sharing by allowing all participants to share and review documents, screens and work on ideas as a team in real-time. There’s no more waiting for emails (opens in new tab) to arrive to start getting work done and no doubt as to which version of a document should be edited. Meetings that can be set up quickly and empower such collaboration via video also means that ideas can be worked on whenever creativity is sparked.
And that means faster decision making, as teams can review, discuss and consider multiple aspects at the same time, resulting in more interactive and productive (opens in new tab) virtual meetings. Forrester substantiates this, finding that teams using video conferencing to collaborate will not only share information faster, but also reduce time-to-market for product or service rollouts.
3. Provide tech that integrates effortlessly
Don’t make technology compatibility an issue when your workers are looking to communicate with customers, partners or anyone outside of the business. Not everyone will be using the same video conferencing set up, so make sure your chosen platform integrates with the full range of unified communications (opens in new tab) and collaboration technologies.
Best-of-breed conference phones (opens in new tab) will incorporate multiple audio and video applications, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Amazon Chime and more, all through the same slick touch interface. And premium video conferencing bars and headsets are also emulating this approach, with native apps built-in for one-touch access to calls.
4. Don’t forget image quality
As much as 80% of communication consists of non-verbal and visual cues, such as body language and facial expressions, so don’t compromise on video quality in virtual meetings.
A low-quality camera will make images appear grainy to other attendees and they will look particularly bad on larger screens. Don’t compromise on video quality — make sure remote workers, huddle rooms and small office spaces are equipped with business-class, cameras and remove the reliance on low-quality laptop versions.
For camera set up in an office huddle room, look for camera features like automatic speaker tracking, which focuses on whoever is speaking, so attendees joining remotely feel like they are in the same room.
Productive wherever you are
Meetings should be effortless, and technology shouldn’t be a barrier to collaboration. Flexible working policies can help to promote the use of virtual meetings and encourage employees to work in the best place given their responsibilities, workload and how well they are feeling. Following these tips will help organisations to reduce their carbon footprint by enabling employees to spend less time commuting, while improving their work-life balance.
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