The technology is finally here to make a dispersed workforce feel connected even when miles apart, according to a recent article in Forbes.com. High definitionvideo conferencing at the desk top is now capable of making people feel connected, even if they work on projects without ever meeting their colleagues face-to-face.
According to the article, the following are some compelling ways video is changing work habits and practices, and uniting a disparate workforce:
•Teamwork and more effective meetings.
It might seem obvious, but video can fundamentally change the nature of virtual teamwork and contribute to the effectiveness of meetings. I have noticed in my meetings that the pure act of seeing and being seen raises our level of engagement, responsiveness and ownership, which ultimately leads to effective meetings.
This is probably the biggest challenge posed by the dispersed workforce. It’s tough managing employees that you never see. Sure, they do their work, but how do you help them on their career path, ensure they feel like a valued member of the team and handle any potentially sensitive discussions? Right now, remote workers are often relegated to being ‘individual contributors’ rather than team members or leaders. Video has the potential to change that, adding the element of nuance that is lacking in phone calls, and leveling the playing field between those in the office and those not.
Our notion of teams and teamwork is already being challenged and will continue to become more and more dynamic. Instead of static teams that work together day in, day out, we’ll bring together groups of people that are experts in their field for specific projects. Those people might be employees, but they might also be consultants or contractors, and they could be based anywhere in the world. They’ll work together for as long as the project requires, and then go their separate ways. They will probably never meet in person. This new form of team will only work if we find a way to inject the H Factor, and video will be absolutely crucial here. Without the engagement and commitment it brings, things could disintegrate pretty quickly.
The importance of training in a dispersed organization cannot be underestimated. It’s the company’s primary opportunity to ensure that everyone feels part of one organization, understands all processes and is equipped to be an ambassador. Many companies still choose to fly people in for their initial induction, but that just won’t be practicable when the majority of employees are scattered around the country and the globe. Video will fill the gap here, perhaps becoming the main mode of training for important sessions.
Have you ever hired someone without meeting them face to face? You will. It’s a certainty that at some point in the future, it will become untenable to physically meet every person we hire. Video interviews will become standard practice and will ultimately replace in-person interviews in some cases. Access to high-quality video on the desktop will play a vital role here in enabling interviewers to gauge the reaction of the interviewee and to establish a rapport.
In sum, the adoption of video across all employees is a pivotal point in how companies operate and how people work together. Whether we know it or not, a revolution is taking place in the way we work as global economics and the pace of business dictate a more dispersed workforce. We could view this as a challenge, or as an opportunity. Easily available and deployable high-definition desktop video might just be the key that lets us unlock all the benefits, and mitigate any potential downsides, of new virtual workstyles for all employees, not just the C-suite.