Has COVID-19 Finally Pushed Video Ahead of Audio?
< 27 May 2020 >
How many times have we logged into a conference, and the first thing that we ensure is that our digital cameras are turned off? In a pre-COVID-19 world, it was a common practice to go audio-only when conducting an online conference, using video only for screen sharing and presentations. COVID-19 has turned this model on its head.
Responding to the pandemic, companies across the world have made working from home mandatory, making physical meetings impossible. An estimated 92% of companies have replaced physical meetings with video conferencing. Interestingly, it appears that we are more open to communicating via video than ever before.
Working from home right now isn’t like the occasional WFH in a pre-COVID-19 world. Employees are spending the majority of their time at home, with curbs on outdoor activities and even lockdowns in some regions. This creates an inevitable sense of isolation.
A video call, therefore, becomes much more than a utilitarian activity. It is an opportunity to connect with the outside world, share someone else’s perspective, and communicate meaningfully. Seeing the person on video is infinitely more engaging than a bare-bones audio call. Also, video lets us study a participant’s body language, observe their expressions, and understand their response in a way that is simply isn’t possible only through audio.
In today’s context, video is almost a placeholder for in-person interactions.
But does this mean that the days of audio-only digital collaboration are over? Not really. A report by Microsoft suggests that countries like India and South Africa are comparatively low on the video adoption curve (22% and 36% respectively) than countries like Australia (57%) and Norway (60%).
There is also the question of company culture and how often you use digital platforms to connect with your colleagues.
A company where digital is woven into the very fabric of collaboration, there will be a much higher comfort level with video. Employees would be open to – and even look forward to – communicating with their colleagues via video, stepping aside bureaucratic protocols like dress code. Overall, the use of video has increased dramatically due to the pandemic; for example, users are turning on video in Microsoft Teams meetings 2x as much after the pandemic.
As we face a period of crisis, video could be that all-important cog for staying connected with our community. Researcher Dr. Fionna Kerr, suggests that the ey contact enabled via video increases dopamine and reduces the stress hormone cortisol. This makes a major difference in both our professional and personal lives. In the professional sphere, video converts meetings into a space for conversation, collaboration, and even enjoyment. And in our personal lives, video calling allows us to stay socially connected even as we practice social distancing.
In a nutshell, there continue to be infrastructural barriers to video; but there has never been a better time to invest, strengthen, and adopt this technology as right now. After all, a picture – and in this case, an image of a familiar face – does speak a thousand word
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