How do you keep in contact with employees across multiple locations?
GuideStar, like many organizations today, is a multi-office nonprofit. We have three brick-and-mortar offices across the country, and a number of remote employees. Because of this, we collectively get to gather in-person only once or twice a year. Luckily, video communication tools such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Lync, and WebEx all have video features that are used by our employees, keeping us connected and close despite the distances.
Of course, whenever I bring up the topic of video-chatting for work, someone groans. There are so many reasons not to use video chat—when just learning the technology, the process can be confusing, time-consuming, and often frustrating. However, I truly believe when examined closely, these concerns are easily lessened, and with time, inter-office video chatting lends itself to a more streamlined, modern, and efficient organization.
As a remote employee who often runs video-calls from the back-end of things, here are the top four excuses I hear surrounding video calls, and how to move beyond them:
Excuse #1: Interacting on screen feels awkward and forced
Reality: Think of it this way-- at the office, you have constant face-time with your coworkers in meetings, the break room, down the halls, even the bathroom. By consistently seeing your coworker’s expressions, you get more comfortable reading and understanding how their body language matches (or plays against!) their words and mood. With people outside of your office, however, it is harder to establish that comfort level over the telephone or especially email.
The only way to build this rapport, then, is to force interactions on screen. They will be awkward at first. But it gets easier. With practice, video calls are such an advantage! You can see your coworker’s eyes, read their body language, and at the end of the day, you’re better able to communicate with the people you work with on a daily basis. Who doesn't love that?
Excuse #2: I hate being watched
The other major reason people don’t like to be on screen is that usually, they are doing something else during the call and do not want to be seen doing it. During a telephone conference call, it is easier to pace, check email, or quickly check your text messages with none the wiser.
While everyone values their privacy, meetings should really be worth your full attention. For better or worse, the nature of video meetings especially require your full attention. No one wants their boss to catch them appearing otherwise occupied on camera! Use video calls as an opportunity to quit multitasking and lean in. This break could be just what you need to engage your brain and contribute more fully to your organization. After all, if the meeting truly isn't worth your attention, why were you invited?
Excuse #3: The technology is annoying and/or too complicated.
I'll be the first to admit that technology can at times be very annoying. But the movement towards remote work in the U.S. is not faltering anytime soon. We are living in a world where video calls are becoming more commonplace, and in order to keep up you must invest the time and learn how to use these new tools. If you choose not to learn technology now, imagine how much more complicated the technology will advance to become in five years’ time! In reality, an unwillingness to learn only creates larger problems for yourself and your organization.
Instead of hesitating, take the challenges head on! You don’t have to learn this alone-- reach out to your IT team, other employees, or leadership to understand and address technological challenges. If you are struggling, chances are someone else in your organization is also. Suggest organization-wide tutorials to HR if need be! Like learning more new things, it will be painful at first, but ultimately a beneficial transformation for your organization, and the technological skills can carry with you throughout your career trajectory.
Excuse #4: Most of our employees are in one office.
Again, unfortunately (or fortunately,) that fact may not be true for long. Trends are showing that more and more people work remotely. As flexible schedules and remote working becomes more important to American job-seekers as part of their benefits package, sooner or later, your organization will have to adapt, modernize, and face remote-location issues by implementing video-calling technology.
Learning how to video call ensures you and your organization are ready to face the future. Do you have any tips on how to address the concerns of resistant employees? Share in the comments below!
Anisha Singh is a strategy analyst at GuideStar. She splits her time between the Strategy Team, Finance Team, and Office of the President/CEO. Anisha is a graduate from Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in International Studies and Economics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, finding the best restaurants in town, and annoying her brother with her philanthropy chatter. You can reach Anisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.