‘And then the phone fell in the bath’: why is it so hard to work from home during the quarantine

“Last week during a meeting a colleague behind her walked a half-naked guy” — says a consultant on communications Jason Nisse. This example illustrates well the pitfalls of video conferencing technology, to which thousands of people used, trying to work at home, writes the BBC.

'И тут телефон упал в ванну': почему так трудно работать из дома во время карантина

Photo: Shutterstock

Some situations really need drastic help. For example, an employee of the financial service of one of the companies has received on the corporate mail a warning: “the computer Monitor is viewed, and we can see how between search queries you are watching porn.”

Services for teleconferencing, such as Zoom, Microsoft and Google Teams Meet, reported a sharp increase in the number of users.

For many of us this is a completely new way of working, to which you need to adapt.

You hear me?

The quality of communication, technical problems and, of course, the ineptitude of the users add confusion during conferencing meetings.

Making sure that everyone understands how the program works, you can save a huge amount of time.

In addition, some managers have realized that to participate in the meetings often attract staff who don’t really need to be there.

A reduction in the number of participants reduces the level of unwanted noise. One breathing heavily, the other sniffles or coughing, another dog barking or the door bell rings — all these unpleasant additional sounds can be removed by turning off the microphone.

Here is another example of not a very pleasant situation.

“Once a client was talking to me from the bathroom and I heard water splash and the sound of the faucet. Then he realized that the microphone is enabled, and the phone slipped from his hands into the tub. My tube came the murmur, gurgle and splash. The client jumped out of the tub to get another phone, slipped and fell down the stairs,” recalls Neil Henderson from Zurich Insurance.

Who is the moderator?

During your online meeting should appoint those responsible for its organization. It should be the person who can translate the conversation in the desired direction, when the discussion descends to the level of provision of office toilet paper.

Steve Parkes of digital Agency Convivio says that this is reminiscent of the work of the moderator of the talk show.

“This man is responsible for the timing, the distribution of discussion between the guests, the questions for the audience, the tempo and the dynamics of the process,” he says.

Television and ladyproducher always work according to this principle, building program. Each question has its temporal boundaries, goals, and possible additional points that should be considered.

It is advisable to create the agenda in advance and to teach it to participants. This will help you better to organize a meeting and how to comply with the time limit, not turning it into a farce.

“During ordinary conversation, people sometimes say at the same time. But in a videoconference it is impossible, because the conversation turns into an undecipherable hum. And poor communication exacerbates the problem,” explains Chris Hurst, CEO of Havas Global media company, which operates remotely with the outbreak of the coronavirus in China.

“In addition, our communication mostly non-verbal. And while video conferencing is usually lost, so the moderator should always remember that”, says Hurst.

The view in the frame

Don’t forget that videoconferencing is a part of the process, so in the frame you should look neat and decent, at least your upper body.

Operator BBC Tracy Langford recommends to put the laptop on pile of books — so he was at eye level.

“Look down produces a not too good impression, she notes. — So don’t forget to look at the top of the screen — where is the camera and not the screen itself”.

A few words about the lighting.

Tracy advises to place the light source just above the face.

“Not worth a single part of the face lighting from the window and the other with inner light. Choose one thing,” she says.

Think also about the interior in the shot behind your back. Unmade bed, clothes rack or washing up in the bathroom look odd and spoil the business atmosphere.

But comic, sometimes even absurd situations during conferencing meetings have benefits, says Ben Todd of Rolls Royce.

“I don’t mind extraneous sounds. Love to hear children playing, the TV or a barking dog. It reminds us that we are all people,” he says.

Melinda de Boer, Director of communications, one of the world brands, agrees: “Many times my colleagues saw how I threw stern looks at my two sons hanging in the room where I was trying to work through Skype. Colleagues say that every time Sami was frightened — it is a pity that with children it doesn’t work!”

Public outcry

Due to quarantine many had to abandon corporate the Friday session at the pub.

However, the companies say they are trying to maintain a normal daily interaction between colleagues and to enjoy the work.

For example, a British company Etch during lunch break office pools for clients and workers and also set up a virtual film club and yoga classes. Other companies talk about how they have dinner “together” while everyone is eating, sitting at the table at home.

If video conferencing is not your style, you’re out of luck, says Chris Hirst, CEO of the media company Havas Global.

“I think that the current experience can be the impetus for fast and sustainable introduction of technologies that allow us to work remotely every day,” he says.


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