Video for meetings - what works for us, and we ask what works for you.
We are keen to know what you all think about the use of videos during the many home-based meetings we are now having. To inspire you to complete our rapid survey on this issue, we have shared two perspectives written up by Sara James and David Howlett, taking up their positions on two sides of this fun debate!
When you're ready, please take the time to complete our really short survey here. We will update things when we have results to share back with you all.
Sr. Marketing Technology Consultant
Sara James: Why I appreciate video conferencing...
I haven’t always been a fan of video conferencing. Before COVID-19 I referred to my rare working from home days as “pajama-days” that allowed me to stay in comfy clothing, be heads-down and super focused and productive. I tried to save all the work required quiet and focus on for my WFH days, and any sensitive conversations went to those days as well. But all those were off camera.
Now that all our days are WFH days, pyjama-days cannot be a thing (unless we are planning theme days at work). We need to be on camera to stay connected. I know the camera can feel overwhelming, but knowing I’m going to be seen means I’m dressed appropriately (albeit casually) and I’m properly groomed. Which means I am in a work mindset and I’m keeping a work schedule – something that is really challenging when you are always near your computer.
The video conferencing does something else really valuable – it provides community. We have all our meetings over video, which keeps me from feeling isolated. I feel connected to my co-workers. I like seeing them laugh. I like seeing their families and their pets and their homes. We feel very connected and very human. It lets me see that we are all going through this in our own way, and it makes it easy for us to share this experience and be open with each other. I’ll be happy to go back to the office when the time comes, and when I get my pajama-days back I will take full advantage of it, but for now, I am happy to see my team, my friends, my community – and we are able to still collaborate and do great work, and I attribute that to our ability to stay connected.
David Howlett: Why I don't - always - appreciate video conferencing...
In our little debating group, the deal was that Sara could choose which side of the argument she took, and I could then go last. Just like the soccer team feeling obliged to play with the wind in the first half, but with that nagging fear that the wind might change direction during the interval. Sara did have a good first half….
I get the final word, though, and the chance to think through her logical, well-reasoned points, and most importantly, I know I am the underdog, just looking to make a few points to disrupt all the accepted millennial-inspired wisdom's. No real prospect of winning this one, but a couple of goals against the run of play might be fun.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. People do need to feel part of a community and having that visual communication does, undoubtedly, help people engage with each other in an emotional way.
Our Group Business Director in Atlanta, Elliott Brown, prepared with typical attention to detail for his video meeting.
My argument is against the forced use of video that has become the default for every meeting in just a few short weeks. Does it actually help? Well, of course, engagement can help us do our work with more enthusiasm, and so in theory, it’s all good, right? But I have been in so many meetings that have meandered one way, then the other, around a number of social pleasantries. Soon it’s time to wrap, and repeat the same game at the next grand tour Teams or Zoom video destination. Business effectiveness is what suffers. The risk is we treat the meetings as the relaxing intervals in our working days, and the priority becomes the social interaction! We don’t think, we don’t concentrate on the issue in hand. That’s not conducive to why the meeting was set up. The meeting must have a clear purpose all of its own but that’s now hijacked by the overriding need for social engagement. It’s a massive distraction away from the original purpose that we are now more tuned into the close-up expressions on our colleagues’ glitching faces, or, heaven forbid, our own, if we’ve not been able to switch off the self-view. Or perhaps not wanted to 😊.
I say, video is fine in moderation, but let’s not oversell its importance. As ever, the most important thing about the meeting is the purpose. And the purpose is most likely NOT going to be affected by our ability to see each other in all our ever-so-well curated casual attire, that just fell at my feet as I opened the wardrobe, honest.
Got to rush and read my John Lewis email (image below) in anticipation of another heavy day under the studio lights.”
Please complete ICP's two minute survey here, and we will share back with you the results!
And feel free to leave a comment below and start a debate with each other ...