Video Conferencing – Why so serious?

Just what is normal?

A typical business meeting goes something like this. There are a few people in a room together. A few more participants join remotely from their desk or home office. Screen-share is often used by the meeting organizer who may also pass control to another participant. But video, while available with most screen share programs, is used by only a few participants. 

My unscientific poll

I asked a few colleagues what holds them back from using video more and received some telling answers:

  • They didn’t have their camera positioned in front of them in their office setup
  • They didn’t want others to see what their office spaced looked like
  • They didn’t want others to see if they were multi-tasking
  • They didn’t want others to see what they were wearing (or not wearing)
  • They didn’t like looking at themselves on camera

In all the answers I received there was no mention of technology or bandwidth as a limiting factor. This would appear to be good news for makers of collaboration software as they wrestle with achieving more adoption of video and VOIP for meetings over traditional land-line calls. The last hurdle appears to be the participants’ office setup, self-consciousness, and privacy. Widespread video use in conferencing may be trickier than thought. 

My pitch for the road less traveled

I work remote from most of my direct team and I view video conferencing as a way to make the distance feel smaller.

Does it keep me more focused on the content of the meeting and less likely to multi-task? Yes and no. There have been times where the camera has helped me avoid the temptation to multi-task. Other times, I have wandered and decided it was OK if others could tell I was looking at something different on the screen. I’ll take the camera over the alternative because it allows me to add more to my communication through facial expressions and hand gestures.  

At the end of the day, I use video with my colleagues because I want the office to feel more intimate and real. Seeing my colleagues adds to the comradery of the group. It’s not for everyone, but maybe it will become part of our local culture. Vamos. 

Onward and upward!