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Video conferencing - Four Pros
(and one con)

I’ve been living and working in Austria for over a year now. My colleague Roos and I still support people on their way to New Ways of Working (NWOW). But being based in Amsterdam and Linz, we’re now also the living proof of our remote teamwork practice. One of the main reasons we manage to make it work is our weekly mid-morning meeting through video conferencing. Without fail, we sit down once a week for a chat through Skype or Google Hangout. We always check in with each other on a personal level first, and only move on to discussing our goals after that. Finally, we work out tangible next steps for the following week. This way, it’s just like sitting at the same table, which is why it works so well for us.

Because we reap the benefits of video conferencing every week, we’re happy to share the most important benefits with you:

1. Video meetings save you commuting time

As long as you can find a hotspot to log onto, you’re free to take your video conference anywhere. Whether you’re at home or somewhere else quiet; there is no need to travel to the office to attend a meeting. So, skip those traffic jams and use your time and travel fare much better. If you work within an international team, regular video meets keep you connected and can even eliminate the need for frequent flights.

traffic jam video conferencing
How do you spend your morning: traffic jam or toast with jam?

2. Video conferencing increases productivity

Traditional meetings often start late, with the first ten minutes taken up by late arrivals, coffee orders and catch-ups. This is detrimental to a video meeting: if people walk in and out, focus plummets. Preparation and concentration are vital – which means video meetings end up being more effective than their physical equivalents*. It enables a focused discussion with a clear beginning and end.

Research from 2013 shows that 94% of people who attend video meetings on a regular basis feel it improves productivity.

3. Using video more often contributes to teamwork

Most teams don’t utilize the power of video meetings. They feel the system is “impersonal” because all attendees are not in the same room at the same time. And we wouldn’t disagree. However, compared to a phone conversation or email exchange, video conferencing is actually the more personal option. Because of the setting of a video conference, participants are more alert and involved in the conversation. Unlike phone and email, video allows us to register facial expressions and non-verbal communication. Teams that are involved in video conferencing feel decisions made during these meetings are more inclusive, and the system contributes to a true sense of teamwork.

4. Face-to-face anytime, anywhere

Wherever you are, whenever you need some face time – video conferencing can make all the difference. Involve your colleague who works from home, bridge that gap with your international team, or create a better connection with your suppliers and clients. A video chat is just as quick as an email, but a lot more personal.

Recently, when looking at a specific course to attend, the course leader suggested I contact them through Skype directly. Within minutes, we spoke face-to-face. They didn’t just answer my questions, but immediately created a great first impression of the training – and the start of a strong personal bond.

But what about that con?

Of course, it’s not all plain sailing: sometimes it’s the tech that puts the ‘con’ in video conferencing. Although it can be frustrating, we find practice makes perfect and having a shared technological enemy can create an instant connection. So, if something goes wrong, remember that the benefits far outweigh any (initial) struggle. Soon you’ll find you’re gaining time and working better together.

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Saskia Langenberg

Saskia Langenberg is oprichter van Mindshake. Zij helpt organisaties en medewerkers met het inzetten van flexibel werken. En teams om op afstand samen te werken.

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