This post originally appeared on Toolbox HR.
Often when we discuss what the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought on the workplace, we’re talking about a radical adjustment to how employees fundamentally relate to the nature of work. With work-from-home models dominating our lives for the foreseeable future, it’s been a period of flexibility and adaptation for employers and employees alike. Yet it’s a necessary change whose results – namely our health and the health of those we love – can’t be understated.
This new approach to work has been a test in many ways, with one study showing that more than half of all workers miss in-person interactions with coworkers. As we move into more long-term remote work structures, employers are trying to build employee engagement and intimacy with the tools they have. Thankfully, video platforms that go beyond the basic function of facilitating conversations can help foster these qualities through more intelligent and empathetic HR practices to changing interpersonal dynamics, all to make all employees feel comfortable and heard.
Smart video platforms vs. traditional video chat
At this point, it’s essential to take a slight detour and distinguish what we mean by smart video platforms versus traditional video chat. Video chat has become a massive part of our work and personal interactions, enabling us to visually communicate with colleagues and those closest to us. Yet, they lack several features that can be beneficial for a professional setting.
By contrast, smart video platforms offer a number of integrated tools that can aid all aspects of work communication, from human resources interviews to group presentations and a lot more. These unique platforms have more robust security measures, which work to remove the risk of unwanted guests on calls and keep data better protected, so participants feel more confident in a conversation’s confidentiality.
Some of these platforms also include integrated organizational features and workflow capabilities like project management tools and in-call presentation tools like discussion guides and whiteboards help foster collaboration among team members.
Customizations like company skins help make the video platform more personalized. Perhaps, most crucially, integrated post-meeting recap tools like full video recording archives, searchable transcripts, and the ability to highlight video clips allow participants to focus on the conversation at hand.
Many of these features can be added to common video chat platforms, but the additional fees associated with such services can make them prohibitively expensive and cost time to deploy the integrations.
Smart video platforms provide the tools to be more engaged communicators
The tools within smart video platforms can work to make us better communicators. Specifically, in more intimate interpersonal dialogues like interviews, sensitive discussions like promotion negotiations, or other HR interactions, the person conducting an interview can be more focused on what they’re going to say next or looking down at their notes. So they aren’t as present as they should be within a conversation.
By integrating discussion guides, and having post-meeting resources like transcripts, isolated video clips, and full video recordings, an interviewer or discussion participant is allowed to focus solely on the person to whom they’re speaking. By fostering a more engaged dialogue, smart video platforms build a level of intimacy that doesn’t exist in traditional video chat or even in-person conversation.
Smart video builds intimacy by changing in-person dynamics
Sometimes it feels like we’ve been working from home for so long that we’ve forgotten what in-person meetings were like in the first place. The truth is that the conventions of traditional in-person interactions are complex and often difficult to navigate. For example, in an in-person meeting, power dynamics become readily apparent. A CEO sitting at the head of a table creates an immediate imbalance. As discussions unfold, certain participants can become dominant, causing others to remain silent or feel alienated from sharing their thoughts.
Smart video platforms have a way of flattening power imbalances because all participants are put on an equal plane. Screens foster a sense of equality, as one person isn’t allowed to occupy more physical space or use their voice to command attention easily. Within smart video platforms, individual speaker windows can remain small – in contrast to some traditional video platforms – so focus isn’t placed on one person, which can help take the pressure off of more anxious speakers.
Intimacy and engagement are fostered when participants in a dialogue feel acknowledged and valued. Through smart video platforms, all participants are given equal footing in a conversation, which makes them feel more included and emboldened, and less likely to be isolated from a dialogue. Further, with advanced transcript tools that support a wider breadth of languages, it creates a more inclusive work environment that can help potentially marginalized employees feel more a part of a broader company culture.
Intimacy is endemic with smart video platforms because of the setting
Often when we’re discussing smart video platforms versus in-person interactions, we fail to recognize the level of intimacy endemic in remote conversations. When we have remote meetings with colleagues and friends, we’re often in a place where we’re most comfortable: our homes. We don’t need to replicate the intimacy of in-office conversations – which can occur in impersonal settings like generic conference rooms – because we’re being invited into someone’s home. We can get a fuller picture of who a person is through the setting: we can see the art on their walls and other personalized aspects of their homes that make them most comfortable.
What makes smart video platforms so unique in this instance is that employees are given a specific video platform dedicated to professional interactions, unlike a traditional video chat platform that may be used to talk with friends and family outside of work hours. Companies can create skins for their video platform to make them unique to the brand to further foster and reinforce employee culture.
This shift toward remote conversations in a dedicated platform works to bridge the work-life divide in a way that isn’t just making an office more enticing, so people feel more comfortable working longer hours. Pushing our interpersonal interactions to smart video platforms has integrated work into our day-to-day lives without them standing in opposition to each other.
How many meetings have we all been in that have been interrupted by a cat walking past a screen, a dog barking in the background, or a child needing help with homework mid-call? These very real, very human experiences have added a level of intimacy that can’t exist in a traditional work setting that stands apart from our home lives.
Use Smart Video to Create the Remote Workforce of the Future
As adoption rates of video platforms grow, more prospective employees will be increasingly comfortable with this form of communication. Companies can begin leveraging smart video platforms now, in their hiring processes, to build their ideal workforce of the future that values those engaged in the platform before they’re even hired.
In the interview process, HR managers can leverage smart video platforms to record relevant responses, which can then be presented to other company stakeholders to determine whether they would be a good fit. In the past, companies had to take HR’s word for it on recommended hires. By creating reviewable materials, the hiring process becomes more collaborative, with everyone being able to buy into how a team is growing without relying on being in the room during the interview.
By selecting prospective employees based on their comfortability with smart video technology, companies can build a more engaged workforce suited to this changing nature of work.
- Smart video platforms provide a level of intimacy and engagement that can’t exist in in-person conversations because they democratize previously intimidating power dynamics and encourage us to be better communicators by being more present in the conversation.
- Intimacy is built into smart video conversations because we’re invited into the homes of whomever we’re speaking to – on a dedicated, company-specific platform – which works to bridge the work-life divide.
- Smart video platforms can be leveraged by HR professionals to select the remote workforce of the future, favoring those who remain engaged and show adaptability to the changing nature of work.
Simon Glass is the Chief Executive Officer of Discuss.io, the only enterprise-level smart video platform helping business professionals make better decisions, using smart technology to capture conversations, analyze them and create intelligence at scale. At Discuss.io, Glass is responsible for overseeing all facets of the business and driving the company’s global development strategy. He first joined Discuss.io in 2019 as Chief Revenue Officer where he successfully transformed the company’s business model and rebuilt the sales and marketing teams.