Employees want to be on camera, but companies are slow to facilitate impromptu group web conversations. With today’s tendency toward long-distance project teams, it makes sense to encourage frequent collaborative online sessions within the company’s virtual environment.
A study in March showed that employees are not camera shy and enjoy collaborating through the internet, but most of the sessions are scheduled and formal, Karen A. Frenkel of CIO Insight reported.
Most employees nowadays carry a cellphone at all times, so it is most natural for them to access an online discussion or just about anything else on the internet with their mobile device.
One complaint users have is the cellphone version of the software they are using does not have as many features as the desktop version. If companies want to switch or add an integration for meetings, online solutions for IT professionals are available. Blue Jeans is just one example of a cloud-based, video conferencing platform that offers extensive interoperability. The company provides an app for iPhone and Android devices that includes tons of engagement features.
If enterprises want to get the most creativity and productivity from their employees, eliminating technological barriers should be a top priority. Employees see the value of these systems and are willing to embrace new technology, if it makes their job easier. Mobile-friendly platforms likely will deliver a much greater return on investment than a company juice bar.
The trend in software is toward enabling users to stay within one application while accessing other apps. This makes sense because increasingly more people view applications from small screens on mobile devices than from desktop monitors.
The instant messaging platform Slack has gained in popularity in the IT industry and others as an unofficial back channel. Someday, employers may catch up, but in the meantime, Slack says it has 2.7 million daily active users, according to Vincent Lanaria of Tech Times.
The collaborative tool has fully embraced integrations including Blue Jeans. If a user wants to add an integration to his Slack account, it probably is available. There are so many, in fact, that Slack has a search engine for them.
This type of platform is no longer cutting edge, so there is no reason for companies to be cautious about taking full advantage of its capabilities. It would be foolish to wait for competitors to grab more market share because they aren’t scared to explore new ideas. So why would a company ignore an inexpensive, innovative solution such as this?
Managers should find out what software tools their employees are using and embrace them. A smart move is to identify a digital conference evangelist in the office, Christopher Martini writes in No Jitter. Giving incentive to the use of video as a spontaneous collaborative tool can do great things for creativity and productivity in the workforce.
Don’t Make Them Boring
Like with most things in business, there always is room for improvement when it comes to scheduling virtual chats. Knowing what aspects of these discussions that people dread and correcting those traits can improve attendance and participation.
A good place to start is with patterns, says Jacqueline Whitmore of Entrepreneur. People are creatures of habit. It’s easier to keeping doing things the way they’ve been done. It’s safe, comfortable and lazy.
Starting on time, having an outline, sticking to the outline and staying within a time limit are great ways to encourage attendance and demonstrate that you respect everyone’s time.
For individuals, abandoning the habit of multitasking during a conference is a simple and positive way to show everyone else you care about what you are discussing. Turning off your incoming calls and setting the app to operate at full-screen are easy methods of forcing individuals to focus on the topic at hand.
Make Them More Exciting
Chika Obiora of Local Wisdom used Quora to come up with some insightful theories to improve meetings. In addition to having an agenda, any gathering for work-related purposes should have a goal. This will motivate all participants to help the group reach the goal. When managers announce the agenda and goal in advance, regardless of the business strategy, the best and most interested people are likely to attend and hopefully will be prepared.
Making it more of a conversation than a lecture can elevate it from boring to exciting in a hurry. The moderator should make an effort to include each participant in the dialogue. The first time, it may feel like pulling teeth, but eventually people will catch on and do their best to put on a good performance.
In traditional, face-to-face discussions, food can be a great incentive for attendance. In a virtual setting, food is a bad thing. It’s distracting to the other participants and to the eater. Instead, managers should be creative and try some type of gamification to motivate attendance.
Regardless of the type of virtual conversations that organizations conduct, they can be an inexpensive and effective way to improve company productivity and drive ingenuity.