4 Always on Video for Remote Teams Tools Reviewed
Coronavirus is rapidly accelerating the way we work. Many businesses, team members, and organizations will now have to rely on remote work for the majority of their employee communications. As a result, you can expect video tools to see a massive surge over this time.
One of the best (and definitely unique) options for managing remote staff is always-on video. In this article, we will explore this technology. We will examine what it is, the pros and cons, how to use it, and quickly review the best tools on the market. So let us get started.
Tip – When you have this solution setup be sure to start off on the right foot with some ice breakers for remote teams.
What is Always on Video for Remote Teams?
One of the major downsides of video for remote teams is the hassle involved in setting it up every time. Making sure everyone in your virtual team is at their computer, making sure everyone logs in, connecting, you get the idea. With always-on video, you have exactly that, a video portal that is always turned on and ready to use.
This may take a variety of forms, but often it is situated in an area of a room that someone can go up to and instantly connect with their team. Because it is already switched on, they simply need to press a button and they will be connected with the team. This allows a level of integration similar to that of an office.
Always-on video takes different forms as well. You can add extra levels of reachability and availability, depending on what works for you. You can choose to have the software “on” but to require people to notify others when they want to talk. Alternatively, you can have the cameras and communication devices on at all times, similar to a real office. Additionally, you can choose how many people are involved in the video conference at all times, from everyone at once, to one-on-one meetings.
Benefits to Always on Video
The benefits to always-on video collaboration are quite robust. They encompass the benefits of normal video conferencing, but have the extra benefits of extra-connectivity.
Firstly, let’s talk about video conferencing benefits. When you’re working with remote teams, there is nothing like meeting face-to-face. Sometimes, you need that extra level of human interaction in order to really get things done. This accomplishes something that email or even the phone cannot. Video conferencing adds that extra level of social interaction and interconnectivity that people need to stay connected.
It is also great for productivity. There is nothing like sorting things out with a conversation. A back-and-forth with email can take forever. With a video conference, you can quickly sort out your issues and have people on similar pages.
Next is organization. Things can quickly become separated when people are working remotely. Keeping everyone in the loop is crucial, and you need to be able to stay in contact with people to make this possible. People can understand their tasks, deadlines, as well as how others are contributing.
Always-on video provides even more benefits that simple video conferencing does not. By having the software always on, the problems associated with sorting out connections, logging in, and time of meetings is not an issue. Since everyone is committed to being fully reachable through the always-on software, you can quickly drop in and out with any questions or concerns you may have.
Overall, always-on is simply a more interactive and connected version of video conferencing, and probably more so than any form of remote communication. If you are looking for the ultimate integration for monitoring or organizing your remote business, then always-on video tool may do the trick.
Downside to Always on Video
Of course, no evaluation would be complete without also examining the drawbacks of a certain technology. In this case, the drawbacks of always-on technology are mostly that which are akin to remote work in general. Sometimes, it is simply not a substitute for in-person communication.
However, when you don’t really have an option, you have to make do with what you can get. It is tough in times where meeting in person isn’t practical, but luckily people tend to get more and more accustomed to these technologies over time.
In terms of always-on video specifically, there is often the hurdle that people simply don’t like to be connected at all times. They may feel it represents a lack of privacy or a lack of trust from management that they will get their work done.
This is why it is so important to set up a system that you and your employees are both comfortable with. You need a process that works for everyone. Everyone should understand that the system is simply for sharing information, and not as a means of “spying” on employees. The whole process should be built on a foundation of trust, with the communicated goal of having everyone work together toward a common objective.
Alternative – Scheduled daily standup / status meetings on video
Always-on video conferencing might be a good option for you, but it also might not. Depending on your team and the type of work you do, you might be comfortable with an alternative arrangement. You should weigh your options, and also talk it out with your team if necessary. Remember, the goal of this is to have everyone communicating effectively, and to do this everyone needs to be comfortable.
One alternative is a scheduled daily video call. By having it scheduled, people don’t have to worry so much about dropping everything and doing it. It won’t be an interruption, but rather a planned part of their day. You can structure these meetings so everyone knows what to expect. It’s a great time to catch up on objectives, works in process, and talk about future goals.
Finding the method that works best for you is key.
4 Best Always-On Video Tools
You might be thinking that this sounds great, but what technologies can you use to put this in action? In this section, we’ll outline our top choices of always-on video software. Technically, most video-conferencing softwares have an always-on option. It is just a matter of how you set up your portal. For always-on, you will simply leave one of these programs running, and allow people to jump in when they want.
No list of video conferencing platforms would be complete without the most obvious – Skype. Skype gained its popularity by being innovative, but it kept its popularity by adjusting and keeping up with the market. With Skype, you have the major bonus that most of your employees have probably used this program before.
Skype supports group video calling for up to 50 people, and even more if you have a paid subscription for a business account. No matter how you want to structure your video conferencing, there is probably an option on Skype. There are even screen sharing options for when you have to show people what you have been working on.
GoToMeeting is a paid service, but often you have to make an investment if you want that extra functionality. GoToMeeting simply offers some usability that other programs do not.
With GoToMeeting, you get everything you’d expect with something like Skype, but most features are a bit more fleshed out. There are plugins to integrate various programs (Salesforce, Google Calendar, Office 365). There are many advanced features so that you can set up your meeting exactly how you want, and include whoever you want.
Probably the second most popular option on this list, most of your employees will probably have used Zoom before. Zoom is great because it is another free software, but has all the features you would expect from a more sophisticated program. It includes up to 100 participants at once, which is a big bonus if you have a large office.
There are a wealth of features to make your experience more seamless, such as screen-sharing, whiteboard sharing, instant messaging chat, and annotations. Zoom also offers heavy encryption options, so you don’t have to worry about your team collaboration meetings being secure.
Google Hangouts is a great video conferencing tool, but don’t expect the wealth of features to be had with some of the options above, especially if you opt for the paid version of any of these software’s. However, if you simply need to have a conference with a small team, Google Hangouts could get the job done. It is easy, intuitive, and free, and sometimes that is all you need.
It really depends on evaluating your needs when considering any of these options. You need to know what kind of software you actually need, because there is a chance you will be paying for features that you don’t actually use.
So before you begin this search, take some time to sit down and evaluate your needs. By this, we don’t mean what kind of video conference software you need, but how you actually intend on communicating with your remote employees to keep them organized and motivated. Once you know what you actually need, you can easily plan out a software that matches these needs. Your decision becomes simplified, and your system of managing your employees becomes much easier.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: How many people need to be involved in your remote meeting?
A: It really depends on who the necessary personnel is for the meeting in question. Unless you are setting up a company-wide meeting to address a large matter or go over specific policies with everyone, then always be sure to include only the necessary people in your video meetings in order to keep it efficient and communication clear.
Q: How not to fail with transitioning to remote in 2020?
A: Communication and clear procedures are two of the most important factors with remote work. Whether or not your team has experience with remote work, making sure you have consistent and clear communication (such as a scheduled daily standup meeting) with them will lead to a successful and effective team.
Q: What challenges have you encountered building a remote team?
A: The main challenges have been communication and tracking work. Both of these are easily solved through tools like always on video and cloud storage for files such as Google Drive.
Q: Where do you store all of your files, and make sure the entire remote team have access to them?
A: Almost any cloud storage software will work, however Google Drive offers some great online storage, making it accessible to anyone who needs to view it, and is easy to use due to it’s integration with G-suite.
Q: How else do you ensure your remote team is engaged, challenged and successful?
A: Keeping everyone up-to-date with daily updates and weekly meetings are two of the best ways to ensure everyone is engaged. A weekly meeting with an always on video software allows your team to have something they own and can communicate to you on a weekly basis which helps you stay in the loop with what they’re doing and keeps them feeling responsible for their own tasks.
Q: What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?
A: Ensure you have all the proper software’s and tools in place, such as always on video and a cloud-based file sharing system, like Google Drive. Then make sure to create and share the procedures to using these with your entire team. After that, implement strict policies for communication and schedule daily and weekly meetings with everyone.
For a complete list of our SOPs on how to work remote have a look at this guide to managing a remote team.