You have a video conferencing system in the office. You know you should probably get around to actually, you know, using it. But much like the exercise equipment you received for Christmas, it is still in the box. Or perhaps, IT set one up three months ago but your employees are still calling clients long-distance instead of using it for product demonstrations.
So, what’s the best way to get into the habit of adding a video conference to your daily routine? Well, first make sure you’ve got the five tips below covered, and then jump in and start scheduling video conferences. Once you’ve taken care of these basic hurdles, it should be much smooth sailing.
1. Set Up a Dedicated Space: …but embrace mobile opportunities. In the office, find a space to set up the video conferencing system so you can test it thoroughly, train employees on it, and access it easily at any time. However, part of the benefit of video conferencing is that it can be done from anywhere — and will sometimes need to be done from less-than desirable locations (in an airport from a laptop, for example). Make sure your in-house set up is running smoothly, then ensure you have a mobile component in place for traveling employees to dial in.
2. Invest in the Experience: Trying to cut corners on cost here will do you no favors in the long run: Make sure you’re working with solid equipment, from mics and cables to webcams and Internet connections. Likewise, pay attention to audio quality during your test runs: Is the mic too close to a keyboard? Is there a delay before you hear audio? Fine tune the system, upgrading or adjusting as necessary so you can have a good quality experience.
3. Look for Opportunities: Perhaps a member of your team is stuck at home waiting for a repairman, or you’d like to give a product tour to a new client — in Tokyo. Maybe you’d just like to give your system a solid run-through after a new software upgrade. Does your IM program integrate with video? There’s another opportunity to video chat instead. The more you identify places where you can use video conferencing, the more everyone can practice using it and thereby, become more comfortable with it. And practice what you preach: upper management should use video conferencing whenever possible in order to lead by example.
4. Inform the Team: Employees are generally more receptive to ideas when they understand the motivation behind them, so make sure you’re clear on why you’d like to incorporate more video conferencing and how you intend the company — and staff — to benefit. Perhaps you’re trying to cut travel expenses, or have better communication with off-site employees. Additionally, it will help ease anxieties if you are clear about the rules you expect employees to follow while video conferencing i.e. no texting while conferencing, don’t be late, schedule in advance, be prepared, etc.
5. Provide Training: A lot of the hesitation around video conferencing comes from intimidation over complicated conferencing systems that require multiple calls to an IT department to get running. However, with the variety of VoIP services, smart phone apps, and video-based web services, video conferencing is becoming increasingly painless. Providing a clear set of instructions on how to access and run all video conferencing technology (be it hardware or software, or both) can give employees a quick reference while they become accustomed to using the technology. Also, make sure there is someone available should employees have questions or run into difficulties.
Video call image via ShutterStock