Since the remote working era has been progressively invading more and more business environments, all technology related to it has developed rapidly, to meet and embrace the needs of this new universe.
Communication tools and software are amongst the most popular and effective ways to keep a remote team working together efficiently.
From typing to talking
Written chat is good on many occasions, but video conferences are even better. They allow you to interact more closely with your co workers, have more detailed conversations and are essentially more productive, since it can take minutes to type what one can say in just a few words and two properly inserted hand gestures. The non verbal is very important in human communication, so being able to see each other will actually bring you closer, no matter how far apart your offices might be located.
But let’s elaborate on a few tips that might help you when you’re video collaborating.
Getting socially prepared
Rule no. 1 — Try to control the extra noise
When put face to face with a video conference, some feel nervous and start tapping their fingers on the desk, playing with some pen or piece of paper, moving the chair to and fro. Try to control and avoid these habits, as they can be quite annoying to your fellow workers. The noise is actually heard much louder on a webcam than in real interaction. Also, if you’re using headsets with a microphone, try not to breath too heavily into the mic — this noise can disrupt the entire communication.
Rule no. 2 — Try to get some natural light
Whenever possible, place your computer by a window, so that you get as much natural light as possible. This helps a lot with the visual side — your co workers will be able to see you clearly, without making an additional effort to guess where you are. If you don’t have natural light, try placing a lamp above the computer or webcam facing you, not behind you, as this will make the image dim and unclear.
Rule no. 3 — Use a natural position towards the webcam
If you are unaccustomed to working with a webcam, you should give it a few tries just to see how it looks and how you can feel comfortable. You should avoid staring straight at it — it creeps people out, or looking up or down from a very tight angle — this will feel uncomfortable to your conference companions.
Rule no. 4 — Keep a relaxed body posture
One of the worst things about a meeting is having to deal with stiff people. And stiffness comes first from our body posture. This is not at all different in video collaborations, so keep in mind that you have to look natural and relaxed without overdoing it though. I mean don’t fall asleep on the back of your chair, don’t slouch, don’t put your legs on the table.
Rule no. 5 — Dress for the occasion
I guess there is no dress code for virtual business communication, but some things are easy to figure out. First, you don’t need to wear a suit for a call — a casual shirt and a casual pair of trousers will do if you’re a man and for women it’s even easier — put on a dress or skirt and a blouse and you are good to go. Be careful though, casual can dangerously turn into too casual, so try to avoid see through clothes, deep cleavages or pijama-looking clothes even if it’s the hottest day of summer.
Rule no. 6 — Lose the extra layers of makeup
If you’re a woman and want to look nice, you don’t need to put on extra makeup for the sake of the webcam. It doesn’t work like in television, so the effect will be that you will look like ready to go pun on a high school theatre play. Put on as much makeup as you usually do, or even better, less.
Rule no. 7 — Give your undivided attention to the meeting
Even if there’s 10 people in the conference and you are the one to speak the least, give all the topics your undivided attention. Don’t play with your phone, don’t look bored and don’t start writing emails or handling other tasks. Stay focused and ready to get involved in the conversation if that is required of you. This will show you are professional and you are treating the meeting with utmost interest.
Rule no. 8 — Mind your environment
The ideal freelance or remote-working situation is that you have a room dedicated to your work. It that’s not possible, try to keep the one you work in as clean and organized as possible. It would be very inappropriate for your co workers to see your unmade bed or a pile of dirty dishes or laundry behind you.
I remember once having a conference call with such a person. You know how you come home at the end of the day and throw your jacket on a chair? Well, it was like that, except that instead of the jacket it was a pile of garbage and instead of the chair it was a pile of garbage and instead of the end of the day it was the end of the world and garbage was all that had survived. The instant impression is that a person so sloppy cannot possibly be a good professional.
Rule no. 9 — Close all apps that might get in the way
When getting into a video conference, it’s best to turn off all apps that might bother you or the other participants, such as those which send notifications, make noise or trigger pop-ups on your screen. It might be that you are sharing your screen and you receive a private message or that the noise made from your calendar letting you know about an upcoming event will keep everyone from hearing what you were saying. It’s easy, just close everything else and after your meeting is over turn them back on.
Rule no. 10 — Treat this as you would treat a regular business meeting
Eventually, the golden rule is to talk and behave as close as possible to a normal meeting. Except for the clothes, everything else can actually remain the same — your attitude positive and relaxed, your focus totally on the discussion and your mindset confident and professional. Don’t interrupt the others when talking and don’t raise your voice, be calm and wait for your turn and your co workers will be pleased to have you in their video conferences.
New and newer — Recruiting and hiring
Aside from talking to colleagues, video collaboration has recently started to spread to the recruiting department of companies as well. This way, more and more managers choose to conduct their interviews via Skype for instance — which is very convenient in a remote team, but works for regular offices as well, to spare time and possibly a failed first interview. You can actually have your first impression from the video talk and if that’s good enough, move on to the face to face meeting.
True story! There are however some downsides to this new practice. Apparently in some parts of the world, people with fewer or less interesting things to do can find it entertaining to create a false ad for a job and have a video interview just to have fun or pick up girls. So be cautious, check the Internet for information about the company and person who is recruiting you and don’t get too excited if a job seems too good to be true — it might just be that it isn’t …true ☺
At TRISOFT we go by the book in pretty much everything we do. We learn the rules, we stick to them and from time to time we add new ones of our own, just to make our journey more pleasant and exciting.
Since part of our team works remotely, we have adjusted to using the proper tools and software in order to make our collaboration smoother. Video conferencing is something we choose to do as often as possible, its benefits showing in the great relationship our team has among each other and with our clients as well.