Here at Videxio, video communication is an ingrained part of our company culture with many of our team working with videoconferencing for many years. But when I joined the marketing team in 2016, my only previous experience of video communication in a work context was the odd Skype call to a colleague or client in another country.
How people communicate has always captured my imagination and has shaped my chosen career path into marketing. So moving to an organization where video is not just a part of the company culture, but absolutely central to how we work, I was fascinated by the prospect of comparing my professional life B.VC ("before videoconferencing") and A.VC ("after videoconferencing"). How would the working culture be different?
What I soon learned after just a few weeks of using video is that there's so much more to its positive impact than just being a practical tool for meeting co-workers.
So here are few things I’ve learnt about my experience of switching to a video-first working culture powered by Videxio:
1. How you work is more important than where you work.
Current debates rage about remote working and distributed teams are really a good thing and whether people can really work effectively together when actually far apart. But arguments over the importance of physical location in relation to how well teams collaborate misses the point. Yes, great communication needs human interaction; no we don’t have to be in the same room to interact with each other anymore. Getting a group of people in the same room does not magically mean they’ll cooperate well together if strategy or team spirit are out of sync. Four walls and a water cooler squeezed in the corner are not the secret ingredients to creativity, innovation, and teamwork. And if there's a minor emergency at home I don't worry about missing meetings to let the plumber in to fix the magical exploding washing machine door and mop up the glass (regrettably a true story!).
Soon after I joined Videxio I did a customer interview— on video since we were on separate continents— and one of the things he told me really stuck with me about how much of a difference video makes:
“There’s nothing we can’t do face-to-face that we can’t do on video”. It doesn’t matter where the collaboration happens, it simply matters that it happens. And video makes true collaboration possible where once it was a tangled mess of emails, phone calls, and file attachments.
2. Email should only be a last resort for problem solving.
Most of what we do at work all day is trying to solve various problems. And as they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. The stilted back-and-forth rhythm of email was not designed for helping people solve complex issues together easily. Email often delays and drags out conclusions. In comparison, with video it’s much easier to just gather the relevant people together and thrash out a solution; on video there's instant answers, instant feedback and faster decisions. Team work happening in real-time.
3. I could really zero in on what’s important and what’s not.
When you’re accustomed to emailing people about pretty much everything, that’s often what people end up doing, exchanging emails about even the most inconsequential items. It's a habit. Switching to a video-first culture, where you know colleagues will answer you face-to-face as long as they’re available, you approach talking to colleagues differently.
I started to have thought patterns similar to this: “I should speak to colleague X about this. But hang on; on second thoughts, it’s probably not important enough to disturb them with a call. I could send an email instead…”
But then the next logical thought would occur: if it's not remarkable enough to tell someone in conversation, is it really worth the time composing an email or sending a chat message? Naturally, I don’t use video in every single instance. But when you suddenly have the option to always be face-to-face when relaying information it’s possible to develop a new level of understanding for which conversations and information are most valuable to you and your colleagues.
4. Great communication means you can spend less time planning and more time doing.
Things change every day at work. New questions, new ideas, new challenges. We have a global team helping to deliver for customers around the world. But when I need a colleague’s help, I don’t have to devote effort to thinking about if that person is in the office next door to me or in one of our other offices. Beyond time zone differences, we don’t have to spend a lot of time considering how we can work together efficiently - either for regular projects or things that come up on a day-to-day basis. We know it takes seconds to schedule a meeting. And if someone’s not available we can always record our meetings for them to catch up later.
5. And last but not least, I've learnt that it's always better to be seen!
Honestly, making phone calls seems so old fashioned to me know. I will always choose video over a phone call if possible and convenient. Having that connection of looking someone in the eye when discussing something with them just makes things that much smoother. It's how we're meant communicate, face-to-face.