Christoph Schneider, Director Product Management at TeamViewer
The current pandemic has challenged people’s perceptions of home working. For some, the adjustment has been smooth, but for a lot of people, adapting to remote technologies has been a huge learning experience. The use of video conferencing tools such as Blizz by TeamViewer, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom have brought tremendous benefits to businesses, but for those unfamiliar with these resources, relying on virtual communication has felt daunting. Yet with Gartner’s HR survey revealing that 41% of employees are likely to work remotely for at least some of the time post-pandemic, it is critical that your employees feel comfortable using home working tools such as video conferencing in the long-term. Here are some top tips for your employees on how to master their video conferencing skills.
There are a lot of distractions when home working. Make sure you limit the number of distractions on video calls by sticking to these recommendations:
- Mute noise. Nothing can be more distracting than irritating background noise. You can’t always control your background noise so, as a general rule, it is a good idea to get into the habit of putting yourself on mute when you are not speaking. If your system is not on mute, be conscious that other participants could hear noises from your side — typing on your keyboard, rustling papers and coughing are often louder than you think.
- Mute background. Turning cameras on for a conference call is a personal choice — some people like to keep their camera on but others prefer to turn their camera off. Turning the cameras on for a call enables people to feel more connected and it can often make people feel more engaged in a discussion. But some calls can be long and it is easy to forget that you are on show. If you need to get up during the session, switch off your camera and mute your sound. This acts a signal that you are away from the call but also ensures participants will not get distracted by your background in your absence.
Check Your Background
It might sound pedantic, but setting up a good background for conference calls is important. Here are three golden rules for creating the right aesthetic:
- Choose a suitable location. Remember, it is not just your face on camera, but also your surroundings. Present your background in the same way you want to present yourself at the office. Inappropriate decor or an untidy surrounding does not just reflect poorly on you, but can also distract participants from fully engaging on the call. Stick to a minimal background if at all possible.
- Optimise on lighting. Trial sitting in different positions and find a spot that has optimum lighting. Strong background light from windows can make you appear as a silhouette in front of the camera but at the same time, a bright light in front of the camera can be just as off-putting. Participants will not be able to see you clearly and can make them feel disengaged from the discussion.
- Think about camera positioning. Position your camera at the top of your computer monitor in the centre. This makes your face the central focal point for calls. If you are calling from a mobile or laptop, where the camera is built-in, make sure you position your device at the right height, so your face and shoulders are in line with your camera.
- Check your screen as well as your space. Don’t forget to prepare your screen for video calls. This is just as important as preparing your background. Omit potential distractions by turning off email or message notifications. If you find yourself needing to share your screen, be mindful of what others will see on your desktop. Close personal tabs such as email accounts or confidential databases, and mute any pages that could disrupt audio, such as ads on websites.
Choose What Works For You
Remember, video conferences don’t need to be taken at your computer.
- Choose a device which suits you. Many video conferencing solutions can also be taken on your mobile and give you quick access to all of your contacts. This means you can speak to your colleagues on-the-go and in a format that fits into your work routine.
- Make use of video conferencing features. For many, the thought of speaking on video can feel daunting. However a lot of video conferencing tools offer users a range of features to help them feel more in control of their meetings. Make use of team messaging boxes if you are experiencing technical issues for example. With consent, users can record sessions and refer back to discussions afterwards. Finally, sometimes you just need visual aids to explain your point. Feel confident in sharing your screen and this will help you become a more competent meeting participant.
To feel confident in using video conferencing tools, you must keep peace of mind that you are using these tools securely. Here are some top tips on making sure you keep safe:
- Install and update antivirus protection. Malware is a quick and easy way for fraudsters to get access to your devices. Whether it’s an email, WhatsApp message or by downloading an infected file, malware can cause serious and irreversible damage to your device, data and personal information. Antivirus software is therefore extremely effective at guarding against digital threats, and this is a vital layer of protection that you need on your digital devices. After all, it only takes one fraudster to cause havoc and take advantage of your data.
- Look out for mobile threats. There is no point hiding; mobile threats exist and can have a real impact on your device safety. The biggest dangers come from malicious software that can steal your data and copycat apps that will bombard your device with unwanted adverts. In order to protect yourself against these unwanted threats, the solution is in your hands. To stay safe, be mindful of the apps you are downloading onto your device and avoid installing software outside of the app store.
- Entrusting your data with the right people. While there is a great deal you can do to avoid threats to your devices and personal data, it is impossible to avoid handing over some control to others. Home working will no doubt require you to share documents and links on video conferencing tools. The only thing you can do is ensure that those you entrust with your data have the security measures in place to prevent malicious actors. This is possible by checking the sharing and encryption settings on the data that you are sharing and, making sure that any digital connection you make with a business or technology solution is licensed when a programme starts. This will give a clear indication of how legitimate the company or partner is.
Video conferencing and remote access solutions are always developing and improving ways to minimise scams and fraudulent activity and have specialist teams that focus on reducing the risk of such incidents. Whilst a lot of tools, such as Blizz by TeamViewer are end-to-end encrypted and use security measures such as one time passwords and two-factor authentication, as with any technology, it is a good idea to update login details on a regular basis.
With the current pandemic shaping our attitudes on the future of work, now is the time to act on change and prepare your employees for a more flexible and distributed workforce. Encouraging staff to embrace home working tools such as video conferencing will not equip your employees for the new world of work, but prepare your company for operating in a more challenging and unpredictable future climate.