The havoc that COVID-19 is causing on our global economy has led to many empty office buildings and a new workplace dynamic. Many companies have mandated their staff to work from home. As employees adopt new ways of communicating with their colleagues, suppliers, and customers, the use of videoconferencing technology can be a very effective tool for businesses to facilitate continued productivity and move forward without further disruption.
As the world deals with the fallout from the virus, it is important for everyone using video conferencing technology to understand its importance as a business tool. For many new users, there could be a bit of a learning curve before they feel comfortable.
The following videoconferencing etiquette tips can help guide your organization’s transition to remote work:
1. Be on Time
In fact, you should aim to arrive 5-10 minutes early just to ensure that the technology works. Always come prepared and make sure your devices are charged. You should set a reminder that you have a call coming up, just like you would do for any normal meeting.
2. Turn on the camera
If you don’t like to look at yourself on the screen, don’t fret. You’re not alone. Nobody looks perfect on a computer screen. But it’s a fear that most people quickly get over after a few meetings. Most video applications actually allow you to hide your individual feed. Use that feature if you think it will create less of a distraction for you.
Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in work mode. You still need to be professional and look presentable. Sit up straight and be engaged. Dress for the people you are conferencing with, just as you would if you were at an office location. It might be uncomfortable for other participants if you have joined the virtual meeting wearing your pajamas.
4. Smile and Be Yourself
The purpose of videoconferencing is to replicate a face-to-face meeting as much as possible. Just because your physical setting is different, it doesn’t give you permission to act or behave any differently. You should use the same facial expressions you would use in a face-to-face meeting. If someone makes a joke, smile. Make sure you’re reacting the same way as you would in a physical meeting. Relax and just be yourself.
If you’re working at home, make sure your surroundings are presentable. If you have a home office in a separate part of your home dedicated to your remote work, great. If not, you should find a quiet space in your house or apartment that has very few distractions. Make sure there’s nothing embarrassing or unprofessional on the wall behind you. You should treat a video conference call the same way you do when you invite guests into your home.
6. Lighting is important
Make sure you can see yourself clearly before you join the call. Don’t sit with your back to a source of light or a window. It doesn’t have to be studio-grade lighting equipment, but the room should be well lit.
7. Remove Distractions
Make sure everyone in your home knows you have a call. As adorable as it might be for young ones running into the room to jump on mom or dad’s lap, it takes away from productivity. Also, nobody likes trying to talk over barking dogs or a lawnmower. Keep pets out of your office or work area when you’re on a call and close the window.
8. Mute yourself when you’re not speaking
Consider muting yourself when it’s not your turn to speak, especially if there’s a prolonged stretch of the conversation when you are not up to speak. Sometimes the technology is too good and can easily pick up noises like breathing, sneezing, tapping pens, helicopters, and even road traffic can get picked up by microphones and cause unnecessary distractions for those participating.
9. Invest in a quality headset
Most laptops are equipped with microphones and speakers located near each other. This causes something call echo. Echo can be very unpleasant for all participants involved. A quality headset can help eliminate echo and provide more clarity to both you and the other participants on the call.
10. Speak normally and clearly
If you followed step no. 9, then there’s no need to raise your voice or speak too quietly. Chances are that people can hear you just fine, as long as you’re speaking clearly.
In the event of an audio or video failure, most video conferencing platforms have a chat feature for the participants to communicate with each other. If not, use these hand signals to troubleshoot:
Thumbs up = yes
Thumbs down = no
Hand by ear = can’t hear
Raise a hand = requesting to speak