Video conferencing and video calling is a well-established technology. Nearly every phone, laptop, and tablet on the market comes equipped with at least one user-facing camera for photos and video calling, and many include technologies to aid in noise and background cancellation.
Video accounts for some 80% of all internet traffic, yet video calling remains overwhelmingly underutilized.
In fact, Pew Research suggests that only 23% of Americans have ever been on a video call (although that number has undoubtedly increased since the release of the study).
Most research points to the fact that implementing video conferencing and calling improves communication, reduces the need to travel, and helps employees engage with each other.
People not only engage more with video chat, they actually remember information better, feel more positively about calls, and feel more positively about the people they engaged with.
As a result, organizations are increasingly installing software, offering hardware capability, and ensuring employees have the tools.
But, many struggle with adoption, seeing no real uptake in video calling usage, even with the installation of video conferencing rooms and tools. Why? And what can you do about it?
Scott Wharton, Vice President and General Manager of Logitech, one of the largest webcam producers on the planet, claims that technology is a leading issue behind failure to adopt video conferencing.
Even in video conferencing rooms, where everything is set up and users only have to push a few buttons, making calls can be complex. The wrong hardware requires setup, adjustment, and sometimes a considerable amount of fiddling.
This creates a hugely negative opinion of the video calling process, with many employees fearing issues like wasting time fiddling with headsets, complex remotes and controls, poor lighting, poor connection, and poor sound quality.
The truth is, most video conferencing and video calling hardware has evolved well-beyond this point.
Modern controls are typically integrated with touch tablets, as difficult to use as your average calling interface. And, modern conference rooms include smarter headsets (typically wireless), lighting, noise cancellation, and quality audio. If yours doesn’t, it may be time to invest in quality hardware.
Video conferencing software solution HighFive lists ROI points relating to reduced carbon footprint, reduced need for travel, greater ability to allow employees flexible schedules without losing productivity.
Video conferencing software, like hardware, can be a major impediment to productive video calling.
Software solutions may be too complex, may throttle bandwidth, may slow computers, or may not offer collaboration tools. Organizations often find they can most successfully implement video calling when software is simple and easy to use, integrates into tooling where possible, and supports the work methods and tools of the user.
While software issues can relate to perceived rather than actual issues with complexity, it’s important to evaluate and take action.
Depending on the result of an evaluation, you can change software, implement workshops and training, or deliver new tooling to specific teams who need to share files or code during calls to be productive.
Research consistently shows that people dread video calls, not because they’re time consuming or difficult, but because they’re self-conscious.
A HighFive survey revealed 59% of adults are more self-conscious on camera than in real life. People spend time focusing on themselves, their appearance, and worrying what people will think of them.
This culture is difficult to combat, largely because it’s a perceived one. The same study showed that no one actually cares what the other person looks like on camera. Instead, they notice things like lack of attention, background noise, poor lighting, and poor connection.
What can you do about it? In most cases, people feel less self-conscious when they know people, when they engage in activities often, and when other people talk about it.
Consider implementing a mandatory weekly video conference to adjust people to calls because it will help with long-term adoption.
Most people are trained to reach for chat, email, or sometimes a phone when they want to connect with someone else.
We increasingly know that video calls boost engagement and positive reception of information and questions, but people don’t often naturally reach for the “video call” button, even on laptops when they work from home.
In some cases, this is natural because busy environments can mean clutter and distraction. In others, moving to video calling can help people get their message and their questions across in the way they were intended.
Video calling is more effective, but people don’t use it because there’s no culture of video conferencing.
How can you change this? Doing so often means taking several steps to show that video calling is easy, productive, and useful.
You can start this process by establishing “work from home” days where teams still connect via video conferencing, hosting weekly video conferencing sessions with freelancers or other offices, and encouraging people to use it when they have to connect.
You can also implement video calling as part of tooling, part of meeting rooms, and part of offices. If it’s there, easy to access, convenient, and useful, people will use it.
People often take calls as an opportunity to do other things. People check email, eat, reorganize their desk, wash their dishes, or take on a plethora of other mundane tasks.
Calls, especially with headsets, leave people with free hands and many take the opportunity to multi-task, sometimes even performing other work while on call.
That’s understandable, especially for busy people with little time in their day. Think pieces, like this one by Gene Marks, President of the Marks Group, highlight numerous reasons why even tech people think calling is more convenient. Not dressed yet? Slovenly? Desk a mess? Want to multitask? Find video calling stressful? Calling is more convenient.
But, with data showing video calls are more engaging and more productive, that’s not really the case. Organizations are more often asking employees to use video calls, often because it cuts down on multitasking, increasing engagement and connection during the call.
Video conferencing can be a good investment, especially for organizations with more than one office, flex work schedules, freelancers, and outsourced teams. Driving engagement will take time, but, once adopted, video conferencing can save your organization time and money.
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