In the life of a gig worker and those of us in the digital realm, often flexibility is key. And in the life of ‘sometimes work from home’ working people, tech such as video calls is the reason we can be flexible. Sometimes kid gets sick, we need a plumber to come fix the loo or the nation is under a government lockdown… I’m lucky to have a job that lets me work remotely, in an age where video conferencing is an acceptable way of staying on track with the day’s meetings.
Best Video Calls Working From Home
But video conferencing isn’t always easy; the kids climb on you, the dog barks and other disruptive background noise. These great tips for video calls and conferences from Alexa Schirtzinger (Head of G Suite Product Marketing); will help you create the best environment and user experience, when using Google Hangouts for video meetings and calls while working from home.
Tip #1: Choose the Right Environment
When I want to talk through a complex issue or brainstorm ideas, video calls are more efficient than chat or email. They also help me get to know teammates in different time zones. But when you’re on a call, give some thought to what’s around you, such as the backdrop; choose a plain wall and avoid windows that will provide too much backlight and if you have a laptop, put it somewhere steady. I once did an entire video call with my laptop on my… well, lap – and at the end the other participant told me that the subtle wobbling of the screen was extremely distracting.
Tip #2: Invite Anyone, Anytime!
Video conferencing doesn’t have to be scheduled; if you’re in the middle of a long email conversation, you can instantly set up a meeting and invite people in or outside of your organisation to join. Hangouts Meet automatically creates international dial in codes so people can call on the phone from anywhere; and you can invite people via a Calendar event, by email or by phone. Check out Google’s help centre to get started.
Tip #3: Can’t Hear Very Well? Turn on captions in video calls
If you’re in a loud place and don’t have super fancy headphones, you can use Meet’s live caption feature to display captions in real time (just like closed captions on TV).
Tip #4: Presenting Your Screen? Only share what you want to share
Don’t you love that moment when you’re sharing your screen and then, suddenly, everyone on the call is reading your email? To make sure you only share what you mean to share, present one window (rather than your entire screen).
Tip #5: Want to Read the Room? Change your screen layout
One of my favourite features in Meet is changing the layout of the video call. If someone’s showing slides, but there’s a lively discussion happening in the office, you can switch your layout to focus on the people in the office, rather than the presentation.
Tip #6: Be Real
Everyone has a life outside of work. Depending on the culture of your workplace, it can be OK (even good) to show a little bit of the “real” life around you; like letting your kid wave to the camera or eating your lunch if you’ve been on nonstop calls all day. Showing a little bit of your life can foster deeper connections with coworkers and even create empathy for what you’re dealing with outside of work.
Your Video Tips
We hope these tips for video calls while working from home will help during these challenging times. Have you got any video call tips of your own? We’d love to hear them – in the comments below.
Founder and strategic mind behind White Rabbit. Focused on clients with a creative and ethical business model. Digital philanthropist giving time to support community groups, projects and organisations; that revolve around the arts, wildlife conservation and heritage crafts.