This article was updated on August 8, 2018.
In a global business environment, video conferencing advancements bring people together from all four corners of the world. The enhancement of video conferencing technology makes it both affordable and efficient for organizations to use this method for conducting workplace communications.
From recruitment efforts to strategy meetings, video conferencing technology can be accessed from desktops and mobile devices, connecting the right people to increase productivity and functionality across multiple office locations.
Instant Is Better for Everything but Coffee
Video conferencing advancements have changed the way many businesses operate. Unified communication solutions allow organizations to combine video conferencing (VC) with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) business lines for more personal communication with clients and employees. Virtual meetings can be held on-demand from any location, which ensures the leadership team is always at the forefront of vital information even on-the-go.
The popularity of VC may slowly start to replace all other forms of communication, such as phone conferencing and even face-to-face meetings. People, particularly millennials, are very comfortable with the format and use it extensively in their everyday lives. According to the "Internet and American Life Project" from the Pew Research Center, 19 percent of American adults have at least tried video conferencing either through cell phones or a desktop app (such as Skype) -- a number that will surely increase each year as technology continues to touch every aspect of people's lives.
Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan reports that "companies adopting strategic collaboration tools now will be two to five years ahead of the competition." So video conferencing will influence the way businesses communicate and share information more and more as technology continues to advance and become more versatile.
Clearing Potential Hurdles
As with any form of technology, there can be potential pitfalls. Video conferencing is so cost effective that now any business can utilize it. Wait a second — that's a downside? It may seem counterintuitive, and although it's cheap to implement, the proliferation of this technology has reduced the need for business travel to the point where many remote teams never actually meet in person. This could eventually lead to a wide disconnect inside organizations as coworkers fail to have the need to develop relationships.
A simple way to avoid this would be to implement policy and practices that require some brief and friendly interaction before meetings and discourage the "just get down to business" meeting model.
Video conferencing also contributes to the loss of personal interaction with job candidates who would traditionally come in for interviews. There is an acute loss of candidate assessment capabilities when you don't get to physically interact and interpret more subtle, yet just as telling, physical cues from your prospective employees.
But this drawback can also be sidestepped by directing hiring managers to develop questions that require a candidate to speak candidly about their character, rather than just their accomplishments. By asking them to engage on a personal level, you'll be able to suss out some of the details that get lost in the shuffle when they're just a face on a screen.
With Great Power Comes Great Accountability
It's up to HR leaders to partner with executives and managers to effectively use video conferencing advancements to enhance employee communication and productivity. Here are some best practices:
- Using video conferencing only as needed
Not all meetings and project interactions can be managed with VC technology. Create a policy for the appropriate times to use this technology and when it may be better to choose traditional meeting methods.
- Set standards of behavior during video conferences
The organization should set forth a policy on how to use video conferencing, including the use of meeting agendas and interpersonal communication tips for proper behavior of attendees (for example, introducing everyone in the room).
- Watch for potential employment violations
Develop a strict policy on information and file sharing to avoid any potential breach of data. Ensure the video conferencing environment is always secure for meetings (when traveling, be in a private area when participating in meetings).
- Actively communicate policy changes and technology updates
Whenever possible, let all employees know about important updates to the VC technology, including security and use. Communicate often about the appropriate use of video conferencing for recruitment, customer service and interdepartmental meetings.
If executed wisely, your organization can use video conferencing technology to boost performance, improve communication and promote an organization that is together, not just interconnected.