In a world when business functions fully online, video presence is essential for success…

Australia has weathered the COVID-19 storm well until Melbourne found itself caught in a second wave. Victoria made world headlines recently when the State Government introduced curfews, mandatory mask-wearing and heavy fines for social distancing breaches. It also saw entire industries forced to shut and a further quarter-of-a-million Melburnians forced to stay home without a job. Except for essential services and jobs that cannot be performed virtually, the rest of us who still have jobs are now working online.

Who would have thought that videos would feature so prominently in our daily work interactions?

 If you’ve asked me a year ago, I would have said face-to-face interactions were the best ways to close a sale, motivate your staff and build business relationships. Nowadays, I rely on videos to do all of the above.

When you’re on video, you’re on a screen. You don’t enjoy the nuances that you have from face-to-face interactions. Non-verbals are harder to read. Not everyone says what they are thinking or feeling. And the distractions are endless.

I believe one of the most important skills to have today is a strong video presence. How else are you going to succeed in an interview? Hold a meeting? Tell the staff what to do? Build relationships? Or, close a sale?

 

The Virtual Presence

Technology as a business communication tool of the future is not a new concept. In October 2019, Forbes Insight, in-collaboration with ZOOM, released ‘The Visual Advantage’ – a report on the changing landscape of the global workplace. According to the survey, globalisation, the rise of the gig economy and increasing demands for work-life balance have resulted in more work being performed remotely from home. The report concluded that video conferencing was a good substitute for in-person interactions. At the time, the researchers were predicting that up to 77% of companies worldwide will adopt some form of remote working or telecommuting within the next three years. It did not predict a deadly virus that would force the entire world to adapt to technology in less than 3 months. 

 

Some of the key findings from this report about the effectiveness of video conferencing are worth discussing: 

  1. Work is becoming more collaborative

73% of respondents in the survey listed better teaming and collaboration across workgroups as the most important criteria for productivity. As the nature of work evolves, greater demand is put on communication platforms that can enhance work over greater distances. 

 

  1. Technology is transforming the nature of work

AI, machine learning, robotics, automation and other related technologies are reducing the number of repetitive, routine tasks and creating more strategic, decision-making and critical thinking roles. Critical thinkers managing diverse and dispersed groups will need greater interaction and therefore a more effective communication medium.  

 

  1. Video conferencing is comparable to ‘being there’ 

Video conferencing is probably the closest we can get to simulating a real face-to-face interaction because of its visual and audio characteristics. Here are some of the reasons identified in the report:

  • Video conferencing can promote teamwork and collaboration.
  • Video meetings can drive engagement of remote workers.
  • Video meetings can enhance the productivity of remote workers.
  • ‘Seeing someone’ where they work and how they work help managers and workers to establish trust.
  • Video meetings can improve work-life balance for employees to feel that they can meaningfully participate in the business even if they are working at a distance. 

Everything at the time points to video conferencing as the communication tool of the future workplace. The first time the world tested out this theory was during the pandemic. Most of us have adapted to communicating via videos simply because we were not left with any other options. Very few of us can honestly say, we have a great presence on video.  

Download the Forbes Insights ‘The Visual Advantage’ Report here.