The coronavirus is wreaking havoc on the global economy, leading to cancelled events, cancelled leagues and empty offices.
It seems like every company with an office is suggesting its employees work from home. That undoubtedly means more employees will be communicating with coworkers, superiors and customers via videoconferencing solutions.
If your employees never had to use this software and aren’t familiar with it, there could be a learning curve before they feel comfortable with it. That’s why we need to talk about videoconferencing etiquette.
As a writer for My TechDecisions and Commercial Integrator, I’ve picked up on a few tips, both from my own trials and errors with the technology and from speaking to people that are incredibly familiar with this technology.
Hopefully these tips can help your organization transition to remote work as the world deals with the fallout from the virus.
Turn on the camera
If you’re like the rest of the world and don’t like looking at yourself on the screen, it’s time to get over that fear. Nobody looks great in a tiny box on their computer screen.
One expert I spoke to suggested holding your phone in front of you behind the videoconferencing camera on selfie mode, which I know most of you have done. That might make you feel a little bit more at home.
On most apps, you can hide the feed showing your mug. That way, you won’t even think about how you look.
Put a shirt on
If you’re working from home, you might feel like you don’t need to look your best. I personally feel like I’m in work mode if I at least have a button-down shirt on, but sometimes I start work in the PJs before I freshen up.
If you have a videoconference call coming up, please do your best to look presentable. At the very least, put a nice shirt on. If it’s an important meeting with a client, dress in your best business attire.
Videoconferencing is intended to replace a physical meeting. You should use the same facial expressions you would use in a face-to-face meeting.
If someone makes a joke, smile. Make sure you’re physically reacting the same way as you would in a physical meeting.
Nobody wants to talk to a robot, so relax and express yourself.
If you’re working at home, make sure your undergarments or dirty clothes aren’t thrown on the back of your chair. Make sure there’s nothing embarrassing or unprofessional on the wall behind you.
If you wouldn’t invite somebody into your home if you knew it was a mess, you shouldn’t less others see it over videoconferencing either.
Lighting is important
Make sure you can see yourself clearly before you join the call. Don’t sit with your back to a source of light or a window.
The room should be well lit, but it doesn’t have to be studio-grade lighting equipment.
Be on time
If you’re new to virtual meeting technology, you’ll need to set reminders that you have a call coming up. This is just like what you would do for a normal meeting.
If you put physical meetings in your personal planner, do that. If you keep everything on your phone and work device, do that with videoconferencing.
Find a quiet place
If you have a home office in a separate part of your home, great. Make sure everyone in your home knows you have a call. As adorable as it might be, young ones running into the room to jump on mom or dad’s lap takes away from productivity.
Also, nobody likes trying to talk over barking dogs or a lawnmower. Keep pets out of your office or work area when you’re on a call and close the window.
Mute yourself when you’re not speaking
If there’s a prolonged stretch of the conversation when you aren’t up to speak, mute yourself. Nobody wants to hear you breathing, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, burping or making any other noises that have nothing to do with the conversation at hand.
Invest in a quality headset
Most laptops are equipped with microphones, but you run the risk of causing a very unpleasant echo. I learned this the hard way a few times and the call really started out poorly.
A headset can help both eliminate that echo and provide more clarity to both you and the other participants on the call.
Speak normally and clearly
If you followed step no. 9, then there’s no need to raise your voice or speak too quietly. Chances are that people can hear you just fine, as long as you’re speaking clearly.