Barco Managing Director SEA Gan Ta Loong says by practicing proper video conferencing etiquette, our transition to remote working may be smoother, more productive, and, make us less prone to being misunderstood.
By Gan Ta Loong
Covid-19 has led to a wave of new uncertainties over how employee should present themselves while working from home.
Employees should aim to present the best version of themselves in video meetings, since they are representing their organisation. I recommend wearing a collared shirt and pants or other business casual attire and selecting bright colours to stand out. Professionals should avoid wearing busy or distracting prints.
I believe that subconsciously, everyone associates putting on formal clothing with turning up for work. Therefore, it is critical that professionals “dress to impress” even when they are working from home which could drive their confidence and productivity. When you dress professionally, you raise your own opinion of yourself and the organisation you represent, with your behaviour following suit with matching clothes.
That being said, clients and colleagues know that we are working from home, which is the default arrangement in Singapore. An element of comfort is to be expected given the environment. However, dressing in overly comfortable clothing will not help one maintain their professional image.
To call with or without the camera?
Remote meetings and classes are much more agreeable when people can see each other. Video allows meeting participants to read each other’s facial expressions and catch non-verbal cues just like in a physical meeting. This enables people to process information and make decisions faster, resulting in more productive meetings.
Videoconferencing can also re-establish emotional connections between colleagues. Rather than sending emails and making phone calls, video creates a sense of togetherness, and reduces feelings of isolation among employees. We may get a glimpse into our clients or colleagues’ personal lives that may trigger a conversation, allowing us to forge a closer connection.
Video meetings also allow us to be more present during the meeting. It is so easy for our minds to wander or multitask when video is not used in meetings. Barco research also found that 66% of respondents agreed that videoconferencing created more meeting engagement and were more willing to participate in meetings with video.
How to make your virtual meeting successful
Meeting hosts in particular should test their technology upfront, ensure they are in control of their audio and integrate options like screen sharing, recording, chat, and hand raising into the meeting. During the meeting, mute your microphone when you are not speaking and turn off notifications on your phone or PC that could disturb the call.
Aside from using Zoom as a videoconferencing solution, organisations can also enhance engagement by adopting new unified communication (UC) platforms or standardising solutions across the enterprise, incorporating software agnostic peripherals (SWAPS) in meeting spaces, investing in display and visualisation solutions, and enabling wireless collaborating.
Meeting organisers should also create structured meetings with a clear agenda and objectives defined beforehand. Additionally, with a new wave of cyberattacks targeting video conferencing applications, it is important to ensure that meetings are safe for everyone participating.
Use meeting hardware and videoconferencing apps that have security built in.
How to create engagement with all participants
Since we will be continuing to host virtual meanings in the near future, it is important to cultivate an inclusive, meaningful connection online.
Video conferencing software can be beneficial in keeping meeting participants engaged through other non-verbal cues aside from audio. Specialised conferencing solutions have installed engagement analytics functions that allow meeting hosts visibility into who has lost focus during the lesson. Interactive tools such as questionnaires, polls, quizzes, and screen sharing also help to ensure engagement from meeting participants.
Ultimately, the host of the meeting can encourage each person to contribute and ask for feedback to make meetings interactive. Managers can also assign employees specific duties for meetings to get them involved.
To help ensure people feel included, it is important first to make sure that everyone is on the same page around the intention of the meeting. Aside from oral feedback, digital feedback features such as virtual hand raising and session analytics can add tremendous insight.
The hybrid workforce will be here to stay, and it is the time to redesign and invest in safe, efficient, and fully equipped offices and meeting spaces that will enable better engagement between employees. Organisations should upgrade their workplace with more video-enabled meeting rooms, so in-house employees can collaborate with home office and remote workers seamlessly in the most effective way. Employers also need to rethink their manpower allocation for hybrid working in the long term in a way that will be most productive for the employee and customers.
Key Takeaways on Netiquette
- Avoid light sources behind you, e.g. a window – rather, place the light source in front of you so people can see you clearly
- Reduce background noises. Mute yourself when you’re in a meeting or class with many people
- Avoid clutter in the background, or use a virtual or blurred background
- Have a stable internet connection. Check in advance with housemates who like gaming or streaming Netflix!
- Avoid being distracted yourself: turn off other programs and don’t go through your e-mails or social media during the meeting or class.
(Ed. Featured image by Photographer Anna Shvets.)