Videoconferencing has become a business staple for front line workers, remote and in-office staff. However, there are visual and audio cues that many teams are unfamiliar with that can have negative, unintentional consequences. Remote attendees can feel slighted, ignored, isolated, and important information can be missed. Articles in various publications have pointed out the advantages that onsite employees have in terms of access, visibility, idea sharing and arguably, the likelihood of promotion. A company needs the best possible ideas and input from employees regardless of where they are located. Here are some guidelines to help maximize the contributions from onsite and remote teams:
- Proper business etiquette. If you are in the conference room, keep conversations public. Side bar conversations alienate remote employees and minimize their input. Valuable feedback may never be heard.
- Try to keep to one person talking at once (I know it’s hard). It’s difficult for remote teams to keep track of the conversation when several people are talking at once.
- Body language is important and onsite employees have a distinct advantage. For onsite teams, face the camera (and mic). Frame the video so that remote teams can get a better “sense” of the speaker. If remote, frame your video for a medium (waist up) view so that people can see your face.
- Agendas need to be distributed in advance. Meeting will be more focused and shorter.
- The meeting host needs to be proactive and ensure that remote employees have equal time and are not overpowered by the onsite team.
- Camera note: If you are remote, don’t sit in front of a window. The camera will react to the light behind you and your image may be very dark or blotted out against the background. Make sure you have a good conference microphone system with noise canceling to minimize background noise.
- Uneven lighting can make employees look tired and worn. If you have florescent lights in your conference room, try to add some incandescent lights to warm up the room. Remote teams may want to use an inexpensive light kit so that they have even lighting.
- Don’t skimp on microphones! Good audio quality is vital. Onsite employees should have a suitable audioconferencing system, not the loudspeaker on the conference room phone. Remote employees also need a good mic, preferably noise canceling which will reduce or eliminate background noise. Companies need to invest in decent audio tools for both teams. They are not expensive and help the quality of the meeting.
- Sometimes, it’s the informal conversation after a meeting that yields the eureka ideas. The meeting host should be the focal point to receive and share those ideas with remote attendees.
These are just a few of the key elements that result in better meetings with onsite and remote employees. If you’d like to explore different videoconferencing technologies for desktop or front line teams, drop us a line. If you have best practice ideas you’d like to share, please send them to me and I post them to share with colleagues.