Phone calls are critical for business. With cell phones, you can take a work call anywhere: your office, from your couch, or even holed up in your car in the driveway. However, right now, a good portion of us aren’t going anywhere except our home office to our couch and back.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve transitioned into a moment of remote working. But while lots of people like the idea on paper, many workers haven’t worked from home in a structured way. Only 3.2% of the workforce, as of 2018, had worked from home more than 50% of the time.
But anyone who has worked remotely for an extended period of time will tell you that at some point, you’ll need to participate in some form of virtual conferencing. Virtual conferencing is the next step beyond cell phones. Virtual conferences allow multiple participants, screen sharing, note-taking, and, of course, can bring people together from remote locations.
Find the right software
Not every virtual conferencing software is created equal. There are a number of platforms that are popular for personal use – such as Zoom and Skype – that also have business features available. However, there is a range of professional or enterprise conferencing platforms that offer more robust features. Leaders in the industry include GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex, and ClickMeeting.
However, the best choice for you and your firm ultimately depends on a number of factors:
- Budget – One thing to consider right now is that a number of companies are providing significant discounts to businesses and workers that have been forced to shift to remote work at this time.
- Number of users
- Essential core features
- Level of necessary tech support
Moreover, you may require legal-specific software for some virtual conferencing needs. Virtual depositions, for example, necessitate dedicated software to allow all participants to be recorded and involved.
Find the right place to set up
Having a dedicated workspace when you’re working from home helps you on a number of fronts. Although lounging on the couch sounds relaxing, you’ll actually be most productive (and do less damage to your posture!) if you work from a space that has ample legroom, space to organize your documents – and a door that shuts.
It’s easy to forget how noisy our homes can be when we spend a good portion of the day away from them, but there are innumerable distractions that can take your mind off work: a pet roaming around, the recycling truck pulling up to the curb, or whirl of the dishwasher. A quiet room with a door can help mitigate those problems by literally shutting out the world.
Another point to consider with video conferencing? The light source in the room. Make sure that you can set up your workspace in a way that doesn’t backlight you or make it difficult for your participants to see you when you’re using video.
Troubleshoot before conferencing
It’s a key rule of adopting any new technology. Always try it out before you need to put it to use.
While more and more software is easy to set up and run, each one has its own idiosyncratic layouts, functions, and commands. While workers are being urged to be patient and understanding as new procedures and practices are worked out, it’s a good practice to give any new program a trial run or two before logging on and leading a meeting.
Expect the unexpected
If you work from home for any period of time, you’ll quickly learn that your home life and work life will rapidly overlap and often in unexpected ways. Your neighbor will start yard work in the middle of a virtual deposition. Your Amazon delivery will arrive as you start your team meeting, setting off your dog and every dog in a two-block radius. And if you have kids at home? No matter how hard you try, they’ll wake up during their nap and make an appearance.
Striving to set good conditions for work and always achieving them are two different things. Have patience and good humor. Apologize for distractions, and then move on. You’ll find people are very understanding.
Video conferencing offers a lot of benefits for the remote worker. Taking a few steps to prepare will help position you to effectively and efficiently use this resource to help your firm and your clients handle their business from the comfort and safety of your respective homes.