When I started in the Video Conferencing industry, the hope was that video collaboration would one day become ubiquitous; well, here we are. Whether we like it or not, Remote Working is now our way of life.
Even those who have returned to the office are more than likely interacting with remote coworkers and clients over video. Almost in every category, Video is now ubiquitous. It is how many of us work and interact with family and friends. For some of us, it is how we interact with our community.
Video collaboration being so widespread has exposed some common hurdles when working from home. Recently, the internet was swarmed by a video of a lawyer in west Texas who joined a court hearing with a cat filter over his face.
As funny as this video is, it exposes one of the pitfalls of video conferencing at home. In this case, the lawyer should have joined early or done a test call to determine whether or not everything was working well. He was using his secretary’s computer, making a test call even more imperative.
Using an unfamiliar device with filters outside of his zoom environment, this fellow was likely provided the “Cat Filter” via a 3rd party software, making solving his problem difficult.
There are at least four things everyone in a Work from the home environment should consider:
1. Keep things consistent
2. Keep things simple
3. Prioritize Audio and Content over your video
4. Video is the last priority but still important
Keep things consistent
Consistently using the same devices is a must when doing mission-critical video calls. Meaning one needs to have devices that are comfortable and suited for their style of working.
Are you always at your desk, or does your job, lifestyle, or situation create the need to work in multiple locations, from your kitchen table to your living room to a local coffee shop?
The lawyer from the above example was on an unfamiliar device. If possible, he should have taken his time to familiarize himself with the device and settings before making his call.
Keep things simple
It is fun to have cool filters, software, or fun new hardware but careful thought about which technology to utilize and how it will work is imperative. Remove the complexity of multiple devices if possible.
The more devices one uses in various situations, the more likely they will experience problems. Complexity is not a friend; simplicity is.
Prioritize Audio and Content over your video
Audio is THE most critical aspect of the video call. That may sound counterintuitive because it is called a “video” call. If the video fails but the audio is still available, a conference can continue; the reverse is not true.
If you have 4 k video working, but your audio is hard to hear and cutting in and out, the video is a failure. When faced with low bandwidth, I will often advise that one turns off the video, allowing only the audio and reducing some bandwidth requirements.
Video is not even the second priority. If you discuss or present some content, like a slide presentation or document, that takes priority over the video stream.
Video is the last priority but still important
Even though it is the last priority, one should never accept poor video. If the only option is poor video, turn it off.
Poor video does not have to be because of low resolution or limited bandwidth. The camera settings may be incorrect. Or poor video may arise from bad lighting, or a distracting background, or using the wrong technology in the wrong application. Think of the cat filter.
Often because of the rapid move to the home office, devices typically used for groups at the office were repurposed for home use. Devices meant for the office often have a camera with a wide field of view designed, if needed, to capture multiple people at a time.
In the new world of shared at-home spaces, the broad field of view may show much more than desired. Kids’ toys spread around, wall paintings, a wayward partner who didn’t realize you were on a call can all detract from your call.
All of us have experienced pitfalls from the quick deployment of work from home solutions. Whether we caused them or were only affected by them, we all can say we have had a call fail because of some issue or another.
Not all, but many of these issues can be resolved by following a few basic principles. Keep things consistent and simple. Remember that audio is more important than video. And make the video is of the best possible quality.
I am a Sales Engineer for Poly, (formerly Plantronics and Polycom). Naturally, I want to discuss how Poly’s products fit working from home.
Poly provides consistent and simple devices that provide a high-quality audio experience designed for the individual video user. Technology like Acoustic Noise Cancelation, Acoustic Fence, NoiseblockAI, and cameras with Speaker Tracking, designed with a more narrow field of view, place the individual in the center of the call.
I am not going into the details of each device in this article, but I will be posting future articles diving into the different headsets, personal audio devices, and personal video devices that have been designed to enable and enhance your work from home experience.
In the meantime feel free to visit the Poly website for more information about our WFH (Work From Home) portfolio.
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And watch the week of February 19th for an article about the new Poly P-Series, specifically the P-15 all in one device.
My guest collaborator, Bill Knauf, also a Sales Engineer for Poly does an excellent job demoing our devices. Bill and I will be showing off the new device. So watch for the article and video!