Keeping a team on task when they are spread across a wide geographical area can feel a little like herding cats. While traditional methods of remote conferencing such as teleconferencing or chat rooms can help increase team engagement, many project managers find them lacking or that team members engage less than when able to meet each other face-to-face. Increasing engagement between team members, no matter where they happen to be, should be one of the top bullet points on any project manager’s to-do list.
Video Conferencing for All Points
It used to be that videoconferencing was done with a room-based system, often with proprietary architecture, and requiring its own in-house server. Depending on the equipment for the receiving sites, video could be jittery, pixelated, out of sync, or even nonexistent. Audio signals would often drop lending that “I am talking underwater” feeling to anyone listening in. With the rise of widely available broadband, many companies have been so invested in their large expensive systems that they are not looking at the benefits of a new and less resource intensive cloud-based architecture for their videoconferencing needs. With new cloud-based apps, the meeting room is anywhere that your team members happen to be at that time.
An ideal videoconferencing system should exhibit cross-platform and multi-device interoperability scalability, as well as being able to handle meetings both large and small. Being able to record and playback meetings, share content, and do so in total security should be some of the key points on which a new videoconferencing system such as those offered by Bluejeans should be evaluated. It should be easy to join or initiate meetings from any location, whether it’s a smart phone in a remote location, or a laptop or desktop at the main office.
Why Video Conferencing?
Investopedia.com points out that videoconferencing is a more inclusive experience over teleconferencing since the users can see and engage with each other instead of being trapped in a meeting room with a talking head on a screen or a voice coming from a box. By engaging with each other on a face-to-face level instead of through a one-way medium your team members can develop stronger relationships, as well as reducing the out of office time, expenses, and stress associated with business traveling.
The more traditional methods of meeting face-to-face took a real hit during the 2009 financial crisis and the resulting recession. Budgets for public and private sector companies were slashed nearly to the bone in an effort to save money for vital operations. However, it can be argued that teamwork suffers when meetings are either canceled or never given a proper place in the process at all. Face-to-face interaction is more than speech, and nuances of communication can be lost when team members are unable to engage and work with each other. A study from Gigaom research revealed some statistics that project managers should consider if they are having difficulty in coordinating their remote staff.
- 87 percent of videoconferencing users were able to feel more connected with their colleagues and projects when using videoconferencing.
- 57 percent said that videoconferencing with systems like Blue Jeans Mobile Video Collaboration enriches their relationships with their colleagues, clients, and vendors and additionally made them feel more productive.
- A Gallup poll cited in the Gigaom study also reflected increasing disengagement among highly educated and middle-aged employees, 71 percent reporting that they felt either unengaged or actively disengaged from their work and workplace.
In other words, your most productive and experienced staff could be suffering from what can be termed “terminal disengagement” and this can in turn go down the ladder of seniority to affect everyone within the organization. Re-engaging staff with videoconferencing and the chance to feel productive and enthusiastic about their work situation can revive a moribund organizational culture more so than any overpriced symposium or rah-rah teamwork consultant.
This strategy can also work and pay huge dividends with your younger generation of staff. Already accustomed to using apps such as Skype, younger staff also suffer from the stress of business travel – generally because they may have young children, or do not have enough seniority to engage an assistant to cover their workload when they are out of the office. According to Verizon’s commissioned study by Infocom states that business travelers cite stress in being away from family and other work responsibilities that detract from the productivity of business meetings. By putting in place a videoconferencing system that allows users to join from devices they are already familiar with such as smartphones and tablets, the younger generation may be the most enthusiastic users of videoconferencing within your organization. Implementing a system that has something for everybody could read you up and get your organization back to fulfilling its objectives.