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I was browsing online while having my first coffee of the day when a headline caught my attention.  It read: ‘Most workers don’t have desktop video and don’t want it, report says‘.  Of more than 5,400 businesspeople surveyed, 72% don’t want desktop video, and even if they did, they don’t have much access to it, says a new Forrester report called ‘Information Workers Are Not Quite Ready for Desktop Videoconferencing‘. The rest either already use it or would like to, the report says. 

I found this intriguing because in many ways I can associate and empathize with this.  There are benefits of being in virtual meetings where one can fully engage, interact and participate without being seen.  I can multi-task (possibly a dangerous claim for a male), walk around, snack, and essentially have the opportunity to behave in ways which may not be appropriate in more formal, office based environments.   

However, other research has indicated that one of the big challenges with holding virtual meetings is the frequently cited concern of not being able to see the other people participating.  The inability to see and gauge people’s reactions to ideas and discussions is understandably a concern.  Body language is known to be an important part of interacting with each other and forms part of our emotional intelligence.  Face to face (f2f) is important and necessary to build trust and develop meaningful business relationships.

With ongoing double digit growth forecast over the next few years in web conferencing, it seems clear that virtual meetings are increasing and more people can expect to participate in such activity than ever before.  There is the recognition that f2f is important and desirable.  Yet according to the report mentioned above, people apparently don’t want to use video conferencing to enable this.  This is the paradox!

What do you think?

Photo Credit: ismaSan

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  • http://www.flexpaths.com Clare Flynn Levy

    What I learned when I joined a virtual company is that video calls rule. I, too, was instinctually inclined to resist, but I knew that using video would significantly enhance my relationships with my colleagues. The reality is that multi-tasking in the background, which we are all prone to do when no one is watching, really isn’t conducive to an engaged, productive meeting. if you can create a company culture where people are comfortable seeing each other dressed down on occasion (sometimes straight out of bed for a call with a colleague in a different time zone!) and still respecting them and their work, video calling becomes a very important business tool. The only trouble is that technology/bandwidth isn’t quite there for high-quality, reliable group video calls. Bring on the SME version of Cisco Telepresence!

    • Paul

      Hi Clare – I had a similar experience – you are right – one probably just adjusts. As for the SME version of telepresence – HD video products products will be on the market later this year so will be interesting to see how people react to this experience.

    • Carolyn

      I agree that that it’s convenient to be able to multi-task with conferencing, however, if the meeting were not virtual and instead being held in a conference room with everyone present, you would likely not be multi-tasking but instead giving your full attention to the thoughts being presented. Full attention is what I would expect from my team members, regardless of virtual or in-person.

      • Carolyn

        Actually meant to post as a reply to initial message; not to Clare’s…

  • http://www.steigmancommunications.com Daria Steigman

    Hi Paul,

    I found the survey results surprising too because the numbers of people who are resistant to using videoconferencing are so high. I didn’t dig into the details (and not sure how the survey probed attitudes), but I wonder if there’s a distinction between 2-3 people meetings and bigger meetings.

    For one-on-one (and maybe 3-4 team members working on a common problem), seeing the people you’re engaged with is definitely helpful. And far more pleasant than having your ear to a phone for an hour or more. But I certainly wouldn’t want every conference call I have to sit in on to be video-conferenced. Without that mute button to let us multi-task when someone’s droning on, how would we ever get anything done?

    • Paul

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Daria. Your distinction between group size is interesting (and pragmatic). I suspect it is all about personal choice and preferences on different occasions.

  • Dave Mason

    Hi : if Info Workers are reluctant then all the rest will be more so. I think this is possibly an instinctive reaction to being too available. We are reluctant to take on more availability. So, more effort needs ot go into changing the nature of the work culture. D.