After David and I shared our thoughts on video conferencing a week ago, in the age of COVID-19 lockdown and quarantining, we asked for your thoughts.
Some results were to be expected, but we were surprised by a few things, and one item really had us discussing all the various ways we experience a painful phenomenon.
We weren’t surprised that there are a lot of distractions during video calls. Everything from technical issues (the winner at 40%), background distractions, and having to face your own reflection, and suddenly being hyper-aware of how you look and the expressions you make (and yes, I apparently do need to work on my poker face!). Upon looking through the responses, our team had a huge breakout conversation about how distracting it is to see your own image, and how much effort then goes into making sure your look projects to other call participants what you want, and how much more exhausting that is, than an in-person meeting. The self-image forces us to care. We wonder whether all the technologies should think more carefully about the options available to exclude or include self-image.
What happens when you look at your self-view all day long on video calls?
We were surprised that the percentage of meetings broke out so heavily at either ends of the scale, with 36% of the people using video less than 25% of the time, and over 40% of the people using video between 76-100% of the time! That’s quite polarised. We expected a more even distribution. We speculate that there are a group of people who perhaps are not feeling as socially included as those who do have so many meetings.
We were also surprised by how much using video added to the feeling of community – scoring 3.6/4. 68% of respondents find the video to be a positive contribution towards creating community with their co-workers. Is this because we see their lives unfolding in the background? The families, the pets, the decorations? Is it the relaxed attire? Is it something about helping to reduce the feeling of isolation? Or maybe all of those?
Over 77% of respondents said that the use of video makes people more social (vs. more professional). That may be a contributing factor to the high community score.
Our team speculated that the high ‘social’ and ‘community’ scoring for video meetings quite probably reflects the fact that most meetings have been collaborative within a company or between partners or with existing clients. We wondered how things might be with harder, more commercial meetings, for example, a meeting to negotiate contract terms. In such a circumstance, we wondered whether we might expect the buyer to prefer audio only whilst the seller might want video to detect the changing body language? I guess we will get to know in due course!
Finally, we asked for the remainder of the quarantine/lockdown, what would your preferred meeting method be:
One of the things the comments revealed throughout the various sections is the ability to ‘opt out’ of video on calls without having any stigma attached. For some people (especially introverts, or people with a lot going on the background), being on camera 76-100% of the time can be pretty overwhelming, but they still appreciate the feeling of community.
Thank you to everyone who responded to our survey.
Sara James, Sr. Marketing Technology Consultant & David Howlett, Marketing Director