The continuous hazy condition –as a result of the forest fires in Indonesia– has resulted in unhealthy PSI levels in Singapore. Outdoor activities are being cancelled as people prefer to stay indoors to protect their health. When similar conditions occurred in 2013, a number of companies provided their workers the option to work from home. The scenario is being repeated as the haze deteriorates and the Singapore workforce would much rather stay indoors to minimise exposure to the unhealthy air.
Being away from the office can affect employees negatively as they lose the opportunity to interact with colleagues as well as being unable to attend internal and external meetings. Work on projects could be stalled, as team members are unable to collaborate on the activities.
This hurdle can be overcome using emerging solutions that enable better collaboration and communication internally and externally. Tools, such as Skype for Business, Google Hangouts, and Cisco WebEx enable employees to hold audio or video conferences from home for internal team meetings or external communications. With the capability to view and share files, employees can collaborate effectively with their team members on their on-going projects as well.
When it comes to video conferencing, and especially from a home setting, it becomes convenient to do it the easy way, in your pyjamas, while eating or even watching television. Employees need to remember to be professional at all times, not causing distractions for other attendees and affecting their own ability to contribute to these meetings. A good rule of thumb is if you would not do it in a face-to-face meeting, don’t do it on video conference as well.
For more details on tips for video conferencing, please see the byline appended below.
The benefits of using video conferencing solutions from an organisational perspective is very clear – it helps businesses achieve their targets while being cost efficient. While these bottom lines and costs may not directly concern you as an end user, video conferences can actually work to your advantage and help you accomplish tasks – if you know how to do them right.
To help you realise how prevalent video conferences are in a business setting, a recent Research and Markets study reports that the global video conferencing market is expected to reach US$ 6.40 billion by 2020. Asia Pacific also sees a similar trend. A Redshift Research survey shows that countries in the region are among the world’s top video conference users, with 66 percent of respondents saying that they engage in video calls at least once a week, compared to EMEA at 53 percent and the United States at 49 percent.
While video meetings are now common in the workplace, the study by Redshift Research indicates that employees are not doing video conferencing the way it should be done. Respondents said that the most distracting things that should be avoided during video calls are not putting mobile phones on silent (58 percent), attending from inappropriate places like public transit (52 percent), and doing unrelated tasks (51 percent).
While it is tempting to join video meetings in a way that is convenient for you, doing so affects not only your ability to contribute to the discussion, but also those of the other attendees. This wastes what could have been a great opportunity to collaborate. To make sure your next video conferences will be productive, here are some tips:
Like other meetings, preparation is the key to a successful video conference. If you are the one leading it, make sure everyone has the agenda and any other information beforehand, including the link to the video meeting.
Make your location conducive for a video conference and eliminate possible distractions, such as too much light coming in from a window or noise from the other conference room. If you’re joining from home, give the impression that you’re actually working – turn off the TV and get a spot that will give you some privacy. Don’t forget to tidy up that part of your home to make it presentable.
This is important especially if you’re using an application you’ve never used before. Get to know the platform and its features at least 15 minutes prior to the video conference. If you’re presenting, check out the buttons you need to use.
Also, take time to check your microphone and camera settings. Nothing is worse than not being able to get an important message across because of your audio is unclear. Consider the positioning of your camera as well – adjust it accordingly and preview your own image. Make sure its eye level, as some camera angles can be distracting and unflattering.
Once you are on the video meeting and have greeted all the other participants, mute your line – even if you are alone in the room. You do not want your background noise to muddle with the audio and annoy those in the video call.
However, be mindful when you are on mute. Make sure that your microphone is turned on before you say something. Knowing where the mute button also comes in handy so you can quickly unmute whenever you have to talk.
To ensure that everyone on the video conference understands what you say, speak naturally and enunciate each word. If someone can’t hear you, adjust the level of the microphone and make sure it is not covered. Never shout. Yelling will make other participants turn down their volume, possibly missing essential information. To help ensure you have a clear audio, use headset or earphones – this can drastically reduce echoing and background noise, and can make your voice sound crisper.
Although it’s a video conference, bear in mind that you are still going to attend a meeting. Wear clean, professional clothing and dress as if yo a’re having a face-to-face meeting, even if you are working from home.
Doing other tasks during video meetings is a big no-no. This includes engaging in conversations with people not in the meeting. As a parameter, if you would not do it in a face-to-face meeting, then you should not do it in a video conference as well.
Allowing users to communicate real time and discuss complicated matters easily, a video conference is actually a great alternative to a face-to-face meeting, especially when time and money are scarce. It works just like any other in-person meeting so make the most out of it – know how to conduct yourself properly and get your message across.
Article contributed by Shaun Wormald, Senior Director of Unified Communications, InterCall Asia Pacific. Shaun Wormald from InterCall can provide more information about the capabilities and benefits of unified communications for working remotely.
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