Virtual teams and remote workers have become the norm in many industries. There are tons of added benefits to having remote teams, but they miss out on the fundamental day-to-day interactions of an office environment.
The same can be said for companies (ours included) with clients in different parts of the world. Managing client relationships without consistent face-to-face interactions adds a whole different level of complexity to the process.
Video Conferencing: The Solution
Video conferencing isn’t a new solution, but it’s one frequently overlooked. We too are guilty of not using this technology to its full advantage.
During our recent strategic planning retreat, we were able to have our entire team together in one room. It was so refreshing to talk to a face rather than a phone, email or IM. We made it a point in one of our sessions to call-out the importance of using more face-to-face video conferencing within our organization.
Not a week after, we helped facilitate a planning session with North Slope Borough School District in Barrow, Alaska. Because of the rural territory and lengthy travel time, North Slope also struggles with detached communications. But they’ve implemented one of the best video conferencing techniques we’ve ever seen.
Mounted cameras and microphones in classrooms paired with Cisco System’s Jabber Video for Telepresences provided high quality video and audio for the meeting. Video was crisp and audio sounded very good, even from participants using the built-in webcams and microphones on their laptops. We were thoroughly impressed.
There are plenty of video conferencing solutions available (Go-To-Meeting, Cisco Sytems, Join.Me), each varying in cost. We aren’t saying that you need to go out and spend a fortune on video conferencing hardware and software, but here are some tips to help you get stared:
- Use what you’ve got – Like we said, don’t go out and spend a fortune on video conferencing hardware or software (unless you’d like to, of course). You don’t need to go out and spend a bunch of money on cameras and microphones either. Almost all newer laptops and smartphones now come with built-in cameras and microphones, so take advantage of them!
- Set requirements – We’re not saying that all communication needs to be through video conference. But, setting up specified and consistent video conferences or requiring a certain number of face-to-face interactions per month can help your team adopt the practice.
- Be you – Video feeds allows you to express a personality that you’d otherwise miss on a standard conference call. Even if it’s a business meeting, you can still be yourself. Remember, the whole point of doing video conferencing is to create a more personal connection.