After years of sitting anonymously in online meetings, I can definitely see the difference video conferencing has made to both my work and my personal relationships.
Working with Faceless Co-workers
A few years ago, I worked full-time from home for three months after my maternity leave ended. During that time, I collaborated frequently online and over the phone with several engineers that I had never met in person. At the close of the project, we had a celebratory lunch where we finally saw each other face to face.
After months of purely professional communication, it was shocking how much better we liked each other in person. It dawned on me that we’d never seen each other smile before!
Adding Faces to the Conversation
In contrast, I recently interviewed an out-of-state customer using an HD video conferencing tool. Though we’d previously only communicated via email, we were soon very comfortable sharing stories with each other. After the meeting, I noticed that our emails were more personal and friendly. Our relationship had changed – without requiring a business trip to Arizona.
It’s just different when there’s a face to go with the message.
Keeping Children Engaged
As a mother of two, I’ve had similar experiences when communicating with my small children during business trips. When I only talk to them over the phone, they are more likely to lose interest in the conversation. But when they sit on Dad’s lap for a video conference with Mom, they engage more. They can see the look on my face when I’m telling them a story or reacting to their news. It’s more real to them.
I’m glad I can use video conferencing to help maintain a healthy work-life balance. When I’m working from home to be closer to my children, it helps me connect better with colleagues and customers, and when I’m traveling for work, it helps me stay in touch with my family.
How has video conferencing affected your relationships? Let us know and we’ll share your story.