Using Video to Improve Work/Life Balance on the Road

You’re sitting in your hotel room and sigh: another missed baseball game. You start thinking of all the defining moments you’ve missed in your child’s life.  From the first words, to the first day of school, to a straight A’s report card; you can’t help but feel you’re missing out. 

Even though travel has been reduced through visual collaboration solutions at work; you still travel frequently because, let’s face it, you can’t do everything over video. Sometimes a firm handshake is necessary to close a deal or unique technical expertise requires your presence.  How can you stay involved in your personal life without sacrificing your job? 

Video Conferencing. 

You use it frequently to conduct business with colleagues, clients and partners so why not use it to stay involved in your children’s lives? Instead of calling home every night, video home.  Read a bed time story, watch the baseball game in real time, or even express your disappointment on a bad choice, the possibilities are endless! With video, you no longer have to forfeit your personal life in the name of business or see the disappointed looks when you leave for yet another business trip. 

Face time is just as important in strengthening personal relationships as it is in developing business relationships. As the saying goes, eyes are the gateway to the soul.  It’s nearly impossible to establish an emotional connection or tell what someone is thinking without looking someone in the eyes. Phone calls and text messages while traveling just don’t cut it anymore; buy a webcam or an iPad and check in with family while on the road. 

Then, the next time you are traveling, you can sit around the dinner table, hear about your spouse’s day and even kiss your children goodnight…virtually.

“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.

It seems like everywhere you look some analyst is saying video conferencing has hit a tipping point and its usage is skyrocketing.  The technology continues to improve while the cost of entry continues to decrease, which is great news for just about anyone who needs to communicate with people in other locations.

What happens though, when an organization finally decides to pull the trigger?  It partners with a solution provider, picks a technology or manufacturer, sets a budget, and implements.

Great! Now it’s time to watch the investment pay for itself as members reap all of the personal and business benefits video has to offer.  Or, maybe not?

One key piece of the implementation puzzle that cannot be taken for granted is the need to promote the use of video within an organization.  It is crucial to design a usage that is tailored towards the needs of end users and the organization’s overall goals.

A good roll-out should begin with a communications plan that outlines how video should be marketed internally.  Key components of this communications plan include:

  1. Program Goals
    In most cases this will be as simple as “to successfully deploy video by creating awareness and excitement while driving user adoption.”
  2. Key Messages and Objectives
    • Why should employees use video?
    • What previous perceptions of video technology need to be addressed?
    • What corporate initiatives are connected to video (going green or sustainability programs)?
  3. Marketing Vehicles
    What media/technology/events will be used to get the word out? (Email, launch events, internal video messages, etc.)
  4. Timeline
    What is the overall roll-out timeline and structure for the program?

With a comprehensive communications plan in place, it is vital to obtain executive sponsorship of the plan. In most cases, any events associated with the video roll-out should include executive participation (launch parties, demos, etc).

The final piece to the puzzle is ongoing marketing. It is not enough to simply announce the launch; a continuous effort must be made to provide updates, additional training, and success stories.  If the internal communications effort is consistent and continues to showcase the value of video, usage and adoption of video technology will skyrocket!

Hospitality professionals know when they need to turn on some serious charm to attract customers. Given the economic environment in recent years, tourism and business travel have declined, leading to a reduction in occupancy rates, daily room rates, and REVPAR (revenue per available room). Competition is intense for the available customers – the question is, how do hotels, resorts, and casinos not only bring in new guests but ensure repeat business?

Ensuring excellent service is a given. To truly differentiate their establishments, hotels can utilize unified communication (UC) technology to transform not only the customer experience, but also improve the operating efficiency going on behind the scenes.

UC solutions, including video conferencing systems, are used to create the ultimate customer experience by:

  • Providing hotel staff with the ability to communicate efficiently in real-time, between all remote properties equipped with UC and video conferencing equipment.
  • Holding one general meeting for all hotel managers across locations, ensuring the consistency of information that is covered; topics may include customer service, housekeeping, and maintenance. In addition, the hotel staff at multiple locations can be managed from one place, greatly increasing the efficiency of operations.
  • Delivering interactive group training sessions to new employees, reducing the time and costs associated with covering the same training material at each property.
  • Addressing high turnover rates typical of the hospitality industry by facilitating the human resources recruiting process.
  • Allowing guests to easily hold face-to-face meetings with remote business associates, thereby not missing a beat while traveling. Content such as presentations, videos, and data can be shared with several participants over multiple locations.
  • Setting up video conferencing rooms that can be rented to companies looking to cut down on travel expenses. Video allows guests to hold their meetings in real time, with various partners around the globe.

UC integration can provide the hospitality industry improved and more efficient operations, better collaboration through real-time communication (with reduced travel costs), and improved guest satisfaction. The resulting guest experience is really quite charming.