We are now well into lockdown and all those operating from home have worked through the many bugs that come with rapidly setting up a home office. The initial rush to get things working saw many of us scramble getting hardware and systems in place to initiate business activity remotely and I have to say it’s been an inspiring experience to see how well most people adjusted.
I know many of you will have been used to video meetings in the office boardroom where 10 minutes after a meeting started we would be still trying to hear someone at the other end or you could hear them and not see them. Generally, no one knew exactly how to work the system, and everyone would have a go at trying to figure out exactly how to make it work while waiting for the tech guru to come and sort it out. Those days are long gone but some bugs still remain and can be entertaining for some and embarrassing for others.
Team meetings and one on one video calls in combination with collaboration systems have seen remote working flourish with amazing results in productivity and efficiency. That’s an incredible positive to come from this crisis for businesses, as well as seeing many employees enjoying the flexibility of working from home.
However, I am sure many of you can relate to the awkwardness and general British uncomfortableness experienced during the general array of video calling…it happens to me daily. We’ve all seen the live broadcast calls with children, animals and naked bodies diverting attention away from the subject and their embarrassing rush to fix the situation.
‘With 11 colleagues logged on for a catch-up, one can be seen walking through her home with her laptop as another provides an update to those listening – and watching – intently. As the woman places her laptop on the floor, she casually pulls down her trousers to sit on the toilet, seemingly unaware the camera remains pointed directly at her. Some burst into laughter and others cover their mouths in shock as they spot the epic fail, before the woman realises her mistake and hastily turns the laptop to face the other way.’
I haven’t done anything particularly embarrassing but I’m sure many of you can relate to my thoughts…
Cue the deafening silence when you crack a joke on a video call and nobody laughs. This genuinely is a daily occurrence for me, although I laugh at myself. Or I can see one other person in the meeting have a chuckle because they heard me.
Adjusting your facial expression to “serious” so as not to give away is the fact that you’re just sat in your Minnie mouse pyjamas with a shirt thrown over the top.
Trying really hard to enjoy your weekly group video chat with your family only for it to feel like work. In both senses.
Trying to angle your laptop so that the video call doesn’t capture the vast amount of crisp packets surrounding you.
Hoping nobody notices your end of day drink is making you far happier and giddier than normal. Maybe you’re even laughing at your own jokes. Just a Diet coke you say?
Awkward hand gestures during video meeting. I’ve also taken to waving at the end of the meeting. It looks insane. I know this. But I literally cannot stop myself.
Ending the video call is a skill in itself. It needs a strategy. Favourites of mine include “I’m struggling to see you, my connection is going…..” or “I’ll let you get on, I’m sure you’re busy” which really means that the meeting has lasted far longer than is required and both of us are too polite to say so!
Sending messages to other colleagues making them giggle during a meeting or asking them to not look so bored and watching their facial expression when they get the message.
‘Comfort levels – I find it easier to talk in a video meeting rather than face to face sometimes, less pressure. Straight to the point – no faffing about and not too much pointless ramble. Mute button – so you can vent when someone says something you don’t agree with (haha) and PJS from the waist down 😃!’
‘Why is it that my kids can play quietly for the entire day but as soon as someone calls or I make a call World War III erupts!’
‘Everyone gets to see you not looking as fresh as what you would do in the office. The camera seems to highlight the fact you aren’t wearing makeup and haven’t washed your hair in a few days and since we aren’t leaving the house, I am not doing either of those things.’
‘Conversations don’t flow as they would do naturally. I find it difficult to judge when to jump in with some input, without interrupting somebody else who is speaking. Often topics change and conversations move on before I’ve found a suitable point to interject.’
Life is not always about being perfect, we all have our faults and the occasional faux pas, it’s always nice to hear others thoughts and realise we are all in the same boat. My general rule for the way we move forward is to understand that business life is now not 100% separated from home life and there is going to have to be some common ground between the two in the future. A more casual approach to the way we do business only strengthens our ability to communicate, so don’t sweat that your hair and makeup isn’t perfect or that your kids make noise every time you click the call button for your next video call
I’m sure the usual technical issues will always be around like internet dropouts and laptops not playing the game but the advances in tech have been incredible and the future is bright for those wanting the flexibility to work from home.
Not all of the bugs need to be fixed or remedied, the human side of tech is what allows us all to add a bit of light-heartedness into what can sometimes be a stressful environment. I hope you all have successful communication in the future and may a little comedy enter your video calls once every now and then just to keep it real.