Easing Your Employees Into Video Conferencing

From the SMB to enterprise, telecommuters, remote workers, and geographically disparate teams have led to a greater reliance on unified communications. Video conferencing solutions are a larger and larger piece of the collaboration toolkit, but there is still some resistance to fully embracing the technology.

A recent survey conducted by West Unified Communication Services found that although video conferencing is used regularly by 54% of employees surveyed, 75% of them said they still prefer audio calls. For webcasting or webinars, the issue is even more pronounced. Less than 20% of study participants have hosted a webcast, although 71% have attended one.

It’s a problem that needs to be solved, as video conferencing offers too many benefits to be ignored. Participants in video calls have repeatedly been shown to be more engaged than on audio calls, both in meetings and in webcasts. Employees who are on camera are less likely to be distracted by their mobile device, another window on their desktop, or other opportunities for non-productive “multitasking”. Audience members in a webinar report it is easier to keep their focus because they can see the speaker.

In addition, the survey found that a vast majority of employees do more preparation for video conferences than they do for audio calls. Video meetings, it seems, are simply taken more seriously than phone calls. Video is an effective substitute for in-person meetings without the costs of travel, and the data shows that’s just not true of audio calls.

The reasons employees have trouble engaging with video conferencing solutions are, thankfully, very surmountable. They mostly amount to technical fears, combined with the same sorts of social barriers that come with any form of public speaking. IT and management can both help alleviate them through preparation, technology, and training.

Employees’ Technical Concerns About Video Conferencing

Over half of the workers surveyed complained that in their experience, video conferencing is choppy and prone to dropped connections. The perception quickly leads to the conclusion that the benefits of the technology don’t outweigh the inconvenience, and that audio calls are to be preferred.

Adoption of video conferencing requires not just the correct software, but also an adequate infrastructure to maintain it. Ensure that enough bandwidth and connection speed is available to all participants for a smooth experience.

Enterprise-level video conferencing solutions are typically more reliable and will work better than free options like Google Hangouts and Facetime. A standardized, corporate-sanctioned solution also has a training advantage. IT can manage a sanctioned video conferencing solution and help ensure all employees are equipped to get the most out of the technology.

Employees’ Social Concerns About Video Conferencing

Even for normally confident employees, video conferencing can inspire a certain degree of camera shyness. In the survey, nearly half of study participants reported feeling uneasy on a video call due to a fear of public speaking. Seeing one’s own face while speaking can make anyone self-conscious, especially those who are unused to the technology.

The answer is simply training and practice. Spend time with employees to work on video conferencing etiquette. Armed with a little knowledge and preparation, workers will quickly become accustomed to talking and being seen on camera. Some companies even go so far as to hold a dress rehearsal or dry run for webinars or important meetings. This gives everyone a chance to work with the video conferencing interface and software and work through any questions like where to look and how loudly to speak. This lets them focus on the actual topic at hand when the time comes, and will lead to a much more successful conference.

Video conferencing is one of the most important business software developments in recent years, and the technology has become commonplace in organizations of every size. Despite that, many companies have at least a few employees who have not yet fully embraced video as an effective means of communication. Providing help for those workers to take full advantage of the technology isn’t difficult, and it will lead to improved efficiency and productivity for them and their teams.