Working From Home: Video Conference Hints & Tips

As the UK enters another Lockdown (less Lockdown 2.0 more Lockdown Lite), a recent survey by YouGov has reported that only 7% of British workers want to return to the office on a full time basis once COVID-19 related restrictions are no longer in place.

The overriding desire is a pick n mix style solution with 50% of those surveyed picking either every day or most days, with the rest opting for ‘some days’.

Encouraging in many ways, a logistical and operational challenge in many ways.

72% said that the comfort from working from home was the main benefit, with 50% claiming to be more productive. 50% said they spent too much time commuting to and from the office, whilst 25% said they liked time away from colleagues.

Video Conference Hints and Tips

Am pretty sure that there is hardly a household in the UK that has not heard of Zoom, Duo, Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime or Microsoft Teams either for social interaction, work related meetings, or increasingly the provision of concerts and the like.

I use them all (through necessity not choice) and whilst they are technically and visually pretty much the same, each has it’s own (alleged) benefits, and you are likely going to have to get to grips with several of them at least.

Regardless of which platform you are using there is one constant behind all of them: you and specifically how you use them.

Time for some Top Tips then …..

  1. Be selective. It is very much the current ‘thing’ to have a video conference but do you really need one? If you were in the office would you send an email? Would you pick up the phone and talk? Just because you have the technology doesn’t mean you have to use it. Be honest, a video conference can be pretty stressful and tiring so best use only when necessary.
  2. Ever been sat in the office squinting at someone that has positioned themselves with the sun behind them so you can’t see a thing, and struggle to concentrate? Ever been on a video conference where you feel you are being interrogated by a faceless person with a bright light behind them? No need to go overboard but being aware of the need to have your face well lit, ideally via a window (although as this is the UK ….) a couple of lights positioned to give you equal coverage is more than enough.
  3. Just because you are on video doesn’t mean you have to alter your communication style. If you are an expressive person make sure the camera distance allows people to see your expressions. If you move your hands a lot to make a point, then distance yourself far enough from the camera so that people can see your hands.
  4. Chances are you will be more static during a video conference than in a office meeting, so is a good idea to ensure that you maintain a good, consistent, posture. No point starting the meeting with people seeing your face, only for that to quickly become your forehead as your posture matches your boredom threshold and slumps ……
  5. Can you walk and chew gum? Can you see the other participants on the call, and they see you …. think eye contact! Height and angle of the camera are key.
  6. Lights, Camera, Action ….. a video conference can be incredibly dull. Dull can suck the energy out of you. No need to be the irritating life and soul of the party, but being aware that you are limited to Face – Eyes – Voice to project your attention (and enthusiasm) then it is a good idea to ensure you come over and enthusiastic …. even when you are not actually talking!
  7. Talking of talking ….. you are not recording a talking head or auditioning to deliver a monologue. Video conferences can strip you of the usual nuances and communication crutches putting more emphasis on your voice. Would you want to listen to you for half an hour?
  8. After you, no after you. Video conferences have a whole set of unique challenges and etiquettes. How long do you talk before you lose your audience? How do you know if you have lost them? How do you interject? How do you invite comment and participation? Most applications have inbuilt tools, but with so many different application and screen sizes etc it is a good idea to lay down some ‘rules’ at the start of the meeting.
  9. I spy in the second box from the left, second row …… yes you! Out of sight, out of mind does not exist with a video conference. Best not let your body language do the communicating for you before you speak, especially if your body says one thing, but your brain another!
  10. Be Prepared. Phone Off. No distracting backgrounds. Let other people in the house know you will be ‘in a meeting’ and for how long. Explain any potential disturbances up front (Amazon Delivery, Dog Barking, Construction Work). Shut down any potentially distracting (or embarrassing) applications.

Other Facts From The Survey

  • 49% of men compared to 44% of woman said they wanted to go back to the office to some degree.
  • 11% of those wanting to go back to the office had 3 or more children
  • 13% said they could train and manage their teams as effectively from home
  • 26% thought their creativity and ability to brainstorm remained the same