This article was originally posted to Microsoft’s The Growth Center blog.
The world of work has changed. With the growth of technology, we’re no longer required to go into an office to access the files and information we need to do our jobs. In fact, according to a report from CNBC.com, 70 percent of professionals around the globe work away from the office at least once a week, and 53 percent work remotely for at least half the week. While all of this can be good for productivity, it also poses some challenges.
Because remote workers aren’t just down the hall, can’t go to lunch with the group at a moment’s notice and can’t just pop into your office to brainstorm, it can be complicated to get to know them on a personal and professional level. Plus, it can be tough to include them in meetings that matter unless you fly them in.
But travel and all of the related expenses can add up quickly, so unless there’s a business case for bringing in a member of your remote team, or you have a travel budget to burn, video conferencing might be the solution you’ve been looking for.
Why video conferencing works
Whether you choose a free video conferencing tool or one that’s part of a comprehensive suite of products, one thing’s certain: when you add a video component to your meetings, you’ll communicate better with everyone. Why? Let’s take a look.
The power of face-to-face communication
Most people have read emotions into an email that wasn’t actually present or heard a tone in a voice that wasn’t intended. Because up to 93 percent of communication uses nonverbal cues, face-to-face meetings can help improve understanding and allow everyone to communicate more clearly.
It’s also harder to hide your emotions and easier to see whether someone’s engaged during a face-to-face meeting. As a result, these kinds of interactions can help people build connections and trust. (And, not too surprisingly, people simply work better when they trust their team.) It’s so effective that, according to one survey, 98 percent of respondents said that video conferencing helped build relationships both inside and outside the company.
Building relationships and boosting morale
Video meetings don’t “just happen” at the coffeemaker like they might in an office setting. They take purpose and forethought. Because of that, and the fact that everyone can see each other, people are automatically more likely to pay attention (and less likely to multi-task). A little pre-planning can make your meetings more efficient and more meaningful for everyone. In addition:
- Video check-ins and group meetings can be the antidote for disconnected employees. In one survey, “89 percent of remote employees said video helps them feel more connected to their colleagues.”
- Quick video conferences between managers and employees can help workers feel seen and heard like they’re part of the team and are just as valued as those who work in the office. (Hint: When hosting a video conference, be sure to look at the camera to show that you’re engaged.)
- Because some video conferencing tools let you share your screen or collaborate on documents in real-time, meetings can become more engaging, inclusive, collaborative and productive, even if your team is spread throughout the country.
But video conferencing isn’t just for communicating with your internal team. It can also help you build relationships with your clients through verbal and non-verbal communication, transparency and collaboration.
Video conferencing can even be a useful tool for shop owners and any business that includes a customer service component. By giving you the ability to connect face to face, you can show customers you’re there for them and even help them see actual products or processes. By doing so, you can help them make informed decisions and build trust, which can help you grow your business.
Regardless of what business you’re in, teamwork is critical. By drawing on everyone’s strengths and working together, you can create solutions that are more thoughtful, meaningful and effective than if you looked at a problem from a single perspective.
And while it would be nice if everyone could get together in one place to work through issues, it’s not always feasible, even if you’re in the same building. But with video conferencing, which is as easy to join as a voice call, you can meet up from virtually anywhere, including your desk, home office, hotel or even your car.
In addition, when you use a video conference solution that allows you to share screens, collaborate on documents, and even record meetings, you can empower everyone to participate in projects and brainstorming sessions. And if there are questions about something later, your team can refer back to the recorded session if they need to.
Although where and how we work has changed, the need for personal relationships, trust, comradery and collaboration hasn’t. Video conferencing technology can bridge that gap. By being able to see and be seen, hear and be heard, and share information in a personal, meaningful way, video meetings allow us to not only feel connected to our clients and colleagues but be more efficient virtually anywhere.