At some point, pretty much everyone has done a half and half working from home conference call.
You know, top half suited and booted but lurking beneath the webcam’s line of sight the pyjama bottoms and fluffy slippers are well and truly in tow.
For many people, conference calls just aren’t a daily occurrence. But with the Covid-19 shift forcing countless companies to uproot their teams to work from home, video calling has never been more important.
So, if conference calling is fast becoming your new (and only) way of speaking with everyone from coffee chums to corporate clients, then do you need to start thinking about video calling dos & don’ts?
We’ve done the hard work for you and have come up with 6 things to do (and avoid) for this new way of communicating.
1- Do a test run or two
We think this is the best place to start.
Whether your group call is made up of 3 or 300 people, you don’t want to be holding up the call because of a dodgy microphone or shaky connection.
Doing a quick check of your audio, camera and lighting can mean the call goes off without a hitch.
2 – Do check yourself (and your bedroom floor)
It sounds like a simple one, but making sure you’re dressed, ready and your background is clear is more important than you might think.
We know it’s tempting to pull out the joggers for life in the home office. But if you’re not used to working from home, then keeping your routine the same can be really beneficial.
This includes dressing as you normally would and looking the part for your office even if it’s just on camera.
Keeping your backdrop tidy is a definite ‘do’ too. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but making sure there’s no overflowing laundry basket or sentimental teddies perched on your bed helps keep things professional.
3 – Do let your housemates, family or partner know
Again, this sounds obvious, but when you’re in the flow you might forget to let whoever you live with know that you’ll be receiving a video call.
Most of us are now working from home for the long run and tensions are higher than usual. So interruptions – however small – from friends and family will begin to grind on you.
A quick check in to let them know you’ll be out of action for the next 30 minutes could help to prevent interruptions and frustrations which could lead to sour relations.
4 – Don’t move around when video chatting
We know it can be so tempting to have a change of scene for a group video call when you’re at home.
With all this newfound freedom maybe it’d be nice to sit out in the garden, or go for a spin?
Idyllic as that seems in your mind, moving around on a video call or using a handheld device like an iphone, ipad or tablet is a key cause of interruptions for many video calls.
Driving on a call is a definite no no, you never know when your signal might cut out. In our opinion, stay safe and stick to one place.
5 – Don’t eat or drink on the call
Mukbang might be the latest YouTube sensation, but there’s no place for it on video conference calls.
A good microphone will pick up any residual noise – whether that’s chewing, slurping or even heavy breathing.
So, to avoid embarrassment, leave snacking till after the call.
6 – Don’t browse and talk
When someone can’t see your face, it’s easy to think you can still pay attention while digesting the latest news update or having a sneaky peek at your twitter feed.
But browsing is distracting, and keeping your eyes on the call (even if it’s just screen sharing or without video) can be crucial for keeping it productive.
If your webcam is on, then it’s even more important to keep it just as it would be in the real world, with good eye contact and connection to your team.
If you’re a line manager or team leader, then you might want to think about appointing a leader for group chats and conference calls.
This way, you can minimise interruptions and enjoy a bit more order.
Whether working from home and video calling is a short-term stopgap or the gateway to a whole new way of working, we can all agree that conference calls have never been so important.
We hope these tips help you stay connected, productive and happy during these next few weeks and beyond.