The COVID-19 pandemic is by far the most life-altering global crisis to ever hit the world in the 21st century. With no vaccine in immediate sight, organisations have come to realise the possibilities that come with online communication — easily the safest way to ensure business continuity (up to a certain point) whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines.
These social distancing requirements placed global economies on a standstill, up until businesses scrambled to adapt to the crisis and establish work- and meet-from-home practices. As a result, almost everyone has probably gone on at least one Zoom meeting or video conference. New remote workers have also begun to learn the ropes of effectively working from home.
Conducting remote workplace meetings, however, poses some unique challenges and limitations, which we discuss below. Hopefully, by knowing these things, you can adopt industry best practices to help ensure every video conference you run achieves the objectives you set.
1. You cannot recreate real live communication.
Here, you can probably say that there is an inherent disconnect between meeting attendees. This is especially true for teleconferencing where additional challenges are present: you may not recognise who is speaking even after introducing yourselves, and there are no visual cues to help with communication.
With video conferencing, participants get to see each other; however, body language is largely absent as all of you will be sitting somewhere with usually just your face framed in the camera. Remember, 55 per cent of our understanding of non-verbal communication comes from body language. So, in its absence, we’re largely incapable of recreating personal communication.
To somehow offset these drawbacks, we advise you to look straight into the camera and occasionally utilise hand gestures that can indicate excitement and interest, as well as for emphasis. These skills can easily be improved upon in a corporate presentation skills workshop where you get to learn about verbal and non-verbal cues that help make communication effective and impactful.
2. Time lag and network problems can crop up.
Even if all participants have the most stable internet connection in the world, there are times when high network traffic (and a host of other network issues) can affect video and audio quality during a video conference. In fact, you may even experience time lags and get poor audio and blurry video.
What you can do to address this is to set the rules of your video conference early on, such as ensuring only one person talks at a time and following the meeting agenda. Try to entertain comments and questions at a later stage. These are simple elements of corporate communications decorum that’ll help ensure your communication goals are met.
3. Staff may have inadequate training and encounter technical issues.
If you’re already tech-savvy, you may have no issues with transitioning from the office to a work-from-home (WFH) setup. You may also have no issues leading or participating in remote meetings. However, others may require training and need assistance in acquiring the equipment necessary to facilitate these types of communication. So, prior to adopting the new normal in your organisation, you need to allocate time, money, and resources for training your employees.
Once training is done, you also need to give your staff time to adjust and get used to the new technology and software or platform you are using.
You also need to ensure that equipment capable of facilitating seamless online communication are available to your employees. In case they encounter technical issues, they should be able to contact the designated tech support of the platform you are using.
4. Employees may experience added stress.
Remote workers who have embraced the WFH setup usually identify one downside: the ability to contact an employee or co-worker anytime and anywhere. While this may be viewed as helpful in a collaborative sense, it can also be bothersome and stressful.
This is why it’s essential to set clear parameters in terms of when remote workplace meetings are necessary and when employees can be contacted. If all you need are updates on a task, a simple chat message should be sufficient.
Managers also need to instill in employees the need to treat remote meetings such as teleconferences and video discussions seriously. By ensuring meeting attendees always come prepared, you prevent wasting time.
What you can do to improve workplace communications during this time
As a business owner, it falls on you to set standards and implement processes to keep your team communication effective and efficient. Aside from our suggestions mentioned above, you can work on improving workplace communication by tapping into available corporate training solutions.
Screenwise offers corporate training classes that encompass all aspects of corporate communication, whether in person or through a video conference. Our corporate classes are suitable for everyone that plays an active communication role in your company. These include:
- Change managers
- Corporate communicators
- HR professionals
- Internal communicators
- Legal professionals
- Organisational development managers
- Project managers
- Real estate agents
- Sales and recruitment managers
- Start-up entrepreneurs
- Team managers
Better yet, you can include these corporate courses into your training and development programme. By registering your people into these training sessions, which can also be conducted via video conference, you’ll be making good use of the “extra” time you have as you and your people continue working from home. Doing so will benefit not only your employees but your business as well in the long term.