“Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

There are several applications for video conferencing across different industries; manufacturing, healthcare and retail to name a few. There is one use case, however, that is universal throughout any organization, in any industry. 

The need to motivate your team. 

With so many pressures across the organization, it can be difficult to find the time to provide the motivation that your employees need.  A small initiative can help inspire a team to work through a tough project while a large, company-wide initiative can help build camaraderie.   Additionally, it can be difficult for organizations with several locations and remote workers to maintain team spirit and to motivate the business as one unit.

How can video help?  Think about these creative uses to help inspire your team:

  1. Happy Halloween! – Connect all of your remote sites via video and have a costume contest.  Each participant can “model” their costume and employees can vote for their favorite.  It’s a lot of fun and gives people the opportunity to poke fun at each other. What can be more motivating than a company that gives its employees the opportunity to have some fun at work?
  2. Kudos – At the end of a particularly successful quarter, the President/CEO can record a message to congratulate employees and update everyone on the latest developments across the organization.  A recorded message is a great practice for the end of each quarter as knowledge about how the company is doing can be motivating for employees.
  3. Virtual Water Cooler – It can be challenging for employees who do not work in the office to feel part of the team and company.  Setup a video system in the cafeteria near a water cooler and keep it connected to other locations.  Now people can have the same ad-hoc conversations about family, their weekends, etc. over video.  This type of office camaraderie can go a long way!
  4. Holiday Party – Many organizations have holiday parties around the winter season and, for the most part, this party occurs near headquarters.  But what about those who work in other locations and cannot attend?  Bring a video system to the party and keep it running the whole night.  Those on the remote side can chat with the party goers and even rock along to Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi!

Motivation cannot be measured.  However, utilizing video to make everyone feel a part of the team will result in a measurable gain in productivity and help your employees perform at the highest level possible.

Everyone has been on a video call where one person doesn’t quite realize you can actually see him.  Remember, while you can hide pretty much anything over an audio call; anything you say or do, can and will, be seen by everyone on a video call.  Here are a few tips to avoid being the one everyone talks about after you disconnect. 

Know you’re not invisible.

While you can get away with propping your feet up on your desk, eating your lunch or rolling your eyes at a long-winded coworker over audio – it is quite noticeable over video.    That said, make sure you’re cognizant of what you are doing and ensure your body is focused on the meeting.   Even if you’re on mute, people can see you typing away on your computer, holding a sidebar conversation or relaxing all cool in your office.  

Dress appropriately.

As fabulous as that leopard print dress or Hawaiian button down looks in the office; it can become overpowering on video.  Opt for neutral colors and basic prints to avoid being the center of attention.   On the flip side, if you work from home, put on a dress shirt for your video call.  We all understand that you have the luxury of working in your sweatpants; you don’t have to rub it in with a sweatshirt as well. 

If you’re out and about – pick a quiet place.

Advances in technology allow people to join video calls from virtually anywhere.  However, this does not mean that you should actually join a video call from anywhere.  Yes, it’s cool you’re at the beach, in a coffee house or walking through the streets of Manhattan; but, all the background noise and entertaining bystanders drown out the point of the meeting.  So save the cool backdrops for personal video calls and pick a quiet place without a bunch of people milling around. 

Have a funny story or some advice?  We want to hear it!

Leave a comment with your favorite video conferencing faux pax.

Driving Usage & Adoption

In a world where instant messaging, email and online audio meetings reign supreme; shifting an organization’s culture to adopt visual collaboration or unified communication solutions can be extremely challenging.  Implementing a new technology is a significant organizational change that, if underestimated, can produce disappointing results.  There are several key steps an organization must take in order to effectively drive adoption throughout the organization. This is the final post in a five-part series covering the successful development of a video culture within an organization.  Read part one here 

The business world is moving at a faster pace than ever before and organizations need to continually adapt in order to survive.  Visual collaboration plays an integral role in allowing organizations to make fast, fluid and flexible decisions; however, simply implementing the technology will not produce the results most organizations hope for. 

Senior management must continue to drive adoption of visual collaboration; starting with their own usage and adoption.  Managers should push the use of visual collaboration anytime the solution is available; such as board meetings or companywide video updates. 

Organizations should also map usage of visual collaboration solutions to business unit profitability.  This allows for visibility into the most effective uses of video; and often times, organizations will see increased profitability and innovation among units with the highest use. Usage mapping also provides the data needed to develop benchmarks for usage and performance.  Management can use this information to identify areas for improvement or additional business units that may benefit from the deployment of visual collaboration solutions. 

In addition to usage mapping, organizations should review overall reporting and usage metrics.  Advanced reporting can provide insight into trends that would typically be missed; such as, a decrease in the usage of a particular outdated system or specific times when video usage peaks creating an over demand on the organization’s network.  As a result, organizations can proactively address any issues to ensure they receive the most out of their video investment. 

Finally, senior management should evaluate the overall success of the visual collaboration implementation.  Questions such as were key metrics and goals achieved; were users accepting of the technology and where are the areas for improvement; should all be discussed.  Not only will this help in deploying visual collaboration to other business units; it will help the organization understand how to implement major organizational changes in the future.

This post is part of a five-part series covering the successful development of a video culture within an organization.

Part One: Because the boss said so is not enough!
Part Two: It’s more than just bits and bytes
Part Three: P is for Process, that’s good enough for me
Part Four: Power to the People

When most of us think about oil, we are mainly concerned with how much it will cost to fill up our cars with gasoline. What we don’t consider is how gasoline actually arrives ready at the pump – the refining process that breaks crude oil down into a variety of consumer and industrial products. This process is the domain of commodity brokers – individuals who make their living putting together deals between buyers and sellers of petroleum products to feed the public’s inelastic demand.

Commodity brokers are often headquartered in one office, with several satellite locations located across the globe. Brokers must communicate with other energy brokers, traders, and clients throughout the day, while simultaneously watching movement of the markets. Communication – not to mention access to information – can make or break a deal.

Brokerage firms are turning to unified communications (UC) solutions that include video conferencing solutions to facilitate the deals that take place among numerous participants in dispersed locations. For example, UC solutions are used to:

  • Improve communication among the firm’s headquarters and satellite offices. Brokers in remote locations such as Omaha, Nebraska or Houston, Texas can maintain a presence in the New York City headquarters by remaining on video on a main screen that is visible to everyone. This creates the feeling that the remote brokers are part of the New York team, and information about clients, commodity prices, and deals can easily be shared at a moment’s notice.
  • Improve relationships with clients by strengthening rapport and building trust. Much of the communication among brokers is conducted via instant message and email. This method is effective, but lacks a personal touch. Even when there is communication over the phone, clients may not feel entirely comfortable with a transaction that is worth millions of dollars if the broker is an unknown entity. Once introductions have been made over video, and video is used as part of the communication mix, trust is established and maintained and as a result, deals are facilitated.
  • Monitor the fluctuation in petrochemical prices that occur daily on the New York Mercantile Exchange and other markets. Data from the Mercantile Exchange remains depicted on a main screen the entire day, reflecting prices in real-time.

Video can be used to achieve impressive results in the world of commodity brokers when used as part of a cloud-based UC solution that includes integration with voice, instant message, and data. When communication is improved and deals are facilitated, the result is thousands of dollars in commissions – amounts that easily and quickly justify the cost of the investment in technology.

It’s Friday, you’re sitting at work and realize this Sunday is Mother’s Day.  You forgot to get a card but no big deal you’ll swing by the store on your way home tonight.  Only problem is, your mom lives 1200 miles away.   Not exactly within driving distance and, short of overnighting a card (which will be totally obvious you forgot), there is no way a card will get there on time.

Alright Plan B.  You’ll order some flowers and have them delivered on Sunday, but that just seems so…generic.  I mean this woman raised you and, more importantly, put up with you during those rebellious years.

So, how can you let your mom know just how awesome she is without purchasing the moon?

Then it hits you.

Plan C – VIDEO!  You installed Skype on her computer the last time you were in town.  Your dad is pretty technical savvy and he can make sure it’s set up properly.  So you call your dad to scheme and, all of a sudden, the most amazing plan emerges.   You’re going to deliver the flowers “in person.”

Step 1: Dad is going to head off the delivery guy and sneak the flowers into the office.
Step 2: You connect the video call with Dad while your spouse rallies the troops.
Step 3: Cram everyone in front of the webcam while Dad gets Mom.
Step 4: Mom walks into the room and you all shout HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
Step 5: Mom is so overwhelmed she starts crying tears of joy saying this is the best present she ever received.
Step 6: You and Dad make eye contact and celebrate with a little smile and wink.

Yes, the plan is all starting to come together.  This is going to be the best Mother’s Day by far because, let’s face it, your mom is awesome and she deserves the best of the best!