In the world of hybrid and distributed work, video conferencing is the portal to connection. With colleagues spread across locations, time zones, and remote offices, a high-quality video call is essential to hybrid success. Plus, good video conferencing technology is essential to creating a great employee experience in the workplace. According to our recent workplace trends report, At Work: how employees and executives actually feel about the workplace, 34% of employees cite slow or outdated technology as a deal breaker for returning to the office.Having a reliable video conferencing setup is not only important for your employees to get their tasks done, but it also improves the overall experience in the workplace. In this post, we’ll walk you through eight video conferencing strategies that you can use to improve meetings across your organization. We’ll also go over a few video etiquette tips.
#1 Get the right video conferencing tools
The first step to a great video conferencing experience is having the right tools. There are a lot of different types of tools you can add to your video conferencing setup, but let’s start with the basics:
- Video conferencing software: Invest in video conferencing software like Zoom, Teams, Google Meets, or WebEx. These tools will integrate with your calendar and should be easy for your employees to use whether they’re calling in onsite or at home.
- Laptops with webcams: In the hybrid world, your employees will be calling in from anywhere. So it’s essential that they have high-quality laptops with webcams. Also, consider offering a work from home stipend for employees to purchase headphones or monitors for their home office.
- Audio equipment: Make sure you invest in audio equipment such as the Revolabs FLX UC 500 conference speaker, that allows your remote folks to hear the conversations in the office (even from the quieter people).
- Video equipment: You’ll also want to invest in good-quality cameras such as the Panacast 180 USB Camera. These cameras have individual lenses that stitch together to provide one image of the entire room. That way, people sitting near the TV can still be seen in the video.
- TV display: In your meeting rooms, you’ll want to set up a TV or a large monitor that syncs with your other tools and allows you to display your Zoom room or share your screen.
#2 Make it easy to book meeting rooms
A great video conferencing experience means having privacy and space to fully focus on the meeting goals and participants. Invest in a room booking system that allows your employees to easily book a space for meetings. Whether it’s a last-minute problem-solving session or a pre-planned quarterly retro, your employee should have an easy way to quickly search for available meeting rooms, book one, and update their calendars. You’ll also want to consider training remote employees on how to book a meeting room for their in-office guests even if they themselves are at home. Their meeting attendants may be in the office that day and need a quiet space to take the call.
#3 Design spaces for different types of meetings
You might think your meeting rooms have to be identical and cookie-cutter. Instead, give your rooms a unique personality so they can be used for different purposes. For example, design some of your rooms with virtual whiteboards for collaboration at team meetings, while furnishing other rooms with comfy chairs and couches for more casual 1:1 meetings. By offering a variety of different spaces for meetings, your employees can choose a room based on the type of meeting they’re going to have. And if you’ve made sure each room is equipped with standard video tools, your employees will feel confident about running their meetings with remote colleagues.
#4 Monitor your rooms daily
It’s not enough to just get your rooms set up one time. You also have to consistently run a quality assurance check to make sure things are running smoothly. Someone might unplug the iPad controller to charge their phone or spill some coffee on the wires. You’ll want to invest in meeting room technology that automatically alerts you if the system is down. But, your tools can’t do all the work. Encourage your employees to notify your IT team immediately if they experience an issue during or after a meeting. By sending an alert as soon as possible, you can get ahead of any future problems and get your tools ready to go for the next meeting. Lastly, it never hurts to do a quick sweep of the office either in the morning or at the end of the day. You might catch problems that get missed by the tools or your employees forgot to report.
#5 Provide a consistent experience
Every meeting room in your workplace, aside from phone booths and small meeting pods, should have a functioning video conferencing tool. Your team should feel confident that no matter where they’re taking a meeting from, they’ll be able to host a video call with no issues. You’ll also want to make sure the quality across each room is the same. Walk through your office and take note if each room has a video setup or not. Better yet, actually, start a meeting from each room to check the Wi-Fi connection and video quality. If you notice a meeting room doesn't have what your team needs, add that to your to-do list and get on it! Consider doing these walk-throughs every few weeks to make sure your video calls stay consistent and high-quality.
#6 Help employees set up at-home video conferencing
Taking a video call from home can be distracting to all meeting participants if the environment and technology isn’t set up well. To help your hybrid and remote employees overcome this, you could offer a stipend so those folks can purchase top-tier video conferencing equipment, such as a webcam, laptop, headphones, and more. You’ll also want to consider specific trainings for remote participants on best practices for taking meetings at home. For example, ask remote participants to try and take calls in a quieter space in their home with lots of light.
#7 Focus on security
Any technology you integrate into your office comes with workplace security risks. So make sure you take a few extra measures to ensure your video conferencing tools are secure and safe for your team to use. Here are a few tips:
- Password-protect your meetings: An easy way to prevent unwanted attendees from joining Zoom calls is to set a password for the meeting.
- Only allow hosts to start a meeting: Manage your settings so that only the meeting host can start the call. That way they’ll be able to recognize everyone in the waiting room and reject uninvested guests.
- Share invite links via secure communication: Encourage employees to only share meeting invites via a secure email server. Many people run into security issues using Facebook or LinkedIn to send meeting invitations.
- Check for updates: Zoom regularly updates its platform when they fix a bug or address a security issue. So be sure you’re regularly updating your applications.
- Avoid file-sharing: Be careful with file sharing over Zoom. Instead, encourage your employees to share sensitive files over email or Slack.
#8 Train your teams
Even if your video conferencing tools are simple to use, you still want to train your employees on how to use the technology and best practices for how to run a virtual meeting. The perfect time to do this is in new hire onboarding. Provide a quick walkthrough of how to use the technology in the meeting rooms in your offices. And don’t forget that you’ll also want to train your employees on how to use their video conferencing tools at home too. Perhaps they’ve got a webcam attachment they need to set up before they begin calls or a Bluetooth headset that they should connect. By providing training, you can make sure all employees have seamless video conferencing experiences.
Video conferencing etiquette tips for productive meetings
We’ve all gotten a lot better at finding that unmute button on our Zoom. But it’s still important for employees to practice good video conferencing etiquette—whether they’re in an onsite meeting or remote. Create a list of tips that work for your organization and distribute them to your employees. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Tip 1: Prep docs beforehand
If you’re leading a presentation or walking through a project agenda, it’s important to have those documents prepared and pulled up on your desktop before the meeting starts. That will make sharing your screen a much more efficient process. Also, make sure you minimize any screens or tabs that aren’t relevant to the meeting as that can be distracting for both yourself and other participants.
Tip 2: Give remote participants the opportunity to speak
When you’re running an onsite meeting, it can be natural to focus on the faces you see in front of you. But always remember to pause and give your remote participants a chance to chime in. It might take a few seconds longer for a remote participant to unmute themselves and find a moment to speak up, so make sure you create space for remote folks to speak up.
Tip 3: Watch for body language
Body language and facial expressions can say a lot about how a meeting participant feels or if they’re about to speak. Keep an eye out for if someone is leaning forward with their chin up. This could mean they’re ready to contribute something. Also look out for participants who are looking at the clock. This might mean they have another meeting after and are nervous about being late. So be conscientious of time and the energies of participants in the room.
Tip 4: Pay attention to the speaker
Whether you’re a remote caller or in an onsite meeting, it’s important to give your attention to the person leading the meeting. We’ve all been guilty of multitasking, but it’s important to be present and engaged in the conversation in order to have a productive meeting.
Tip 5: Use the chat feature
If there are a lot of participants in a meeting, it can be hard to know when or if you should contribute. You also might have a question but don’t want to interrupt the speaker. So utilize the chat feature! You can send words of encouragement or ask questions. The meeting host will be able to go back and reread those chats.
As more companies invest in video conferencing technology to enable hybrid work, it's important to remember: you can't just rely on the tools alone. You need to set up and maintain your conference rooms and enable your teams to ensure everyone can meet seamlessly. Don’t be afraid to try new things and switch out components as your company grows and your needs evolve.