Like it or not, there is a new normal in the world of business communication – we're working from home. As it goes with many rapid and expansive changes to any system, the results can be decidedly mixed. Many new “work from homers” have experienced increased productivity, less stress and certainly a smaller portion of their day devoted to the commute. On the flip side, another group grapples with new challenges like learning communication systems and keeping their children educated and entertained during social distancing.
With that notion in mind, let’s explore some of the nuances of working from home – audio and video conferencing. With solutions like Microsoft Teams exploding into homes across the country and the world, it’s important to examine how conferencing can improve communication while you avoid common errors.
You’ve just arrived at the video meeting and you say hi to your cohorts or possibly even to a guest from outside your organization. No one says hi back, but you chalk this up to the meeting starting or the conversation changing at the wrong moment, no big deal. Then, you chime in on an important topic and still no one responds! What is happening? Your boss asks you a direct question and everyone quickly replies: ‘You’re muted.” You forgot to unmute yourself.
It can be hard to remain constantly mindful of whether you’re muted or not, especially during an intense meeting, but that’s the new world of conferencing. You certainly don’t want to have the opposite problem either: thinking you are muted when you’re broadcasting the sound of yourself enjoying a mid-meeting snack. The best you can do is remain mindful and professional – people will likely understand mistakes on this matter if you issue an immediate and sincere apology.
Chaos or Silence
Your boss asks a question to the group in your conferencing meeting and you answer at the same time as another member. It’s awkward and sometimes a slight delay can complicate the timing. Even worse, sometimes the issue is repeated! Try your best to stop, regroup with the other party and decide who should go first. This can happen in a in-person meeting too, so you should have some practice working around these clashes.
The opposite problem can be just as bad: silence. A question could be asked and it generates no response - what an uncomfortable moment. If you’re the one who asked the question, you can avoid this issue by having a reframed version of the question ready or you can direct the question to a specific person, making a response more likely. If you are a member of the group being asked, feel free to cut the silence by agreeing to follow up with an answer later or suggesting someone who might know more. Silence doesn’t have to be an awkward thing if it doesn’t last too long.
When working from home, interruptions are going to arise but not all interruptions are bad. It’s likely that at some point, you’ll be meeting with one of your team members and a family member or even a pet will wander into the room. This is a good opportunity to bond with your team member and get to know their home life a bit more. Your team members are human beings and the more you connect with them, the better trust will develop between you – the productivity of a cohesive team far exceeds the lost time from a minor intrusion.
That being said, there are plenty of less-optimal interruptions to be discovered in a home working environment. Contractors could be working on installing a new furnace or a video game could be blasting at full volume in another room. It’s your responsibility as a good team member and employee to make sure that audio or video distractions be kept to a reasonable minimum. It'd be better to step away from a meeting for a moment to stop a recurring noise than to let it continue.
What most of these lessons boil down to is simple: remain professional and understanding of the situations of others. We are living through a unique time in the history of humankind and we have a special chance to be effective communicators and good neighbors. Changing to a work from home situation can be a struggle, but it can also be a huge benefit if you and your team members can learn how to be productive in new circumstances.
To learn more about conferencing solutions, reach out to CallTower today at the link below: