The coronavirus pandemic in recent days has managed not only to become the main news agenda, but also to drastically change the usual rhythm of the lives of millions of people around the world. Companies are massively transferring employees, planned events are frustrated, social activity goes deeper and deeper online. Perhaps digital has never been so new real. Adapting to the rapidly changing rules of the game is not an easy task. But it is doable. In this article we will explain how to manage a remote team.
The choice of the “online” format for corporate meetings and large conferences has many advantages. The geographical question disappears, it absolutely does not matter what cities all participants of such an event will be in. This allows you to save on business trips for employees and speakers, involves new partners who previously could not get to the conference venue due to lack of time, high cost or considerable distance. “Online” greatly facilitates the format of the event: so all participants can be on time at their computers, and there is no need to follow a strict dress code, while the main thing is not suffering – content. Thanks to the use of audio and video modes, your audience will be able to perfectly absorb the broadcast material. Finally, now many platforms allow you to automatically save the desired content, which after the fact eliminates unnecessary fuss with the transfer of information to everyone. Of course, the pluses listed above should work for you, though only if you have a competent approach to organizing and conducting an online event. The preparation process can take more time and energy than it seems at first glance. Here are our recommendations on how to make such an event as productive as possible.
Site selection – analyze the available platforms and service packages that offer different services. Check how many users and duration of the conference they are designed for, how much information can be downloaded to them, whether participants will need to install additional programs and plug-ins, whether there is an option to record video and audio, as well as other technical features.
Choice of date and time – do not forget to inform your audience in advance about when and what time the conference will take place. When choosing, remember about time zones – because among the participants there may be people not only from other cities, but also from other countries.
Preparation of materials – prepare the necessary materials – illustrations, tables, documents, presentations. In fact, compared with the usual conferences, nothing changes here, but again, the technical characteristics of the platform should be taken into account.
Check the readiness of the site – pre-test the sound and video quality on the selected platform. This is an absolute must-do for an online conference, regardless of its size.
Check your readiness – it is unbelievable, but sometimes even such a trifle as an outdated laptop or lack of a charger can lead to the disruption of an online event. The possibility of such force majeure should be excluded.
During an online event:
1. At the beginning of a video conference, be sure to ensure that participants have no problems broadcasting audio and video. Checking will help to avoid technical issues, and your audience will not have to be distracted during the event.
2. Start with a positive note! A capacious introductory word will help determine the participants’ expectations from the conference, involve them in the process and set them up in the right way. This is especially important now, when due to the level of stress and information noise, it is difficult for many people to distract from oppressive thoughts and switch to a working wave.
3. Track audience activity. We would recommend involving two moderator observers in an online conference. The responsibilities of one will include technical aspects, and the other will monitor the involvement of participants and questions coming from them.
4. Remember the importance of communication. After each block of information, be sure to check with the guests if everything is clear to them and answer any questions. Participants with the most interesting questions will not be out of place to connect to the broadcast and give them a say. Encourage guests to share their thoughts, address participants by name, let yourself be interrupted.
In short, do everything so that the conference remains a conference, and does not turn into an online lecture.
5. Do not be afraid to share personal experiences! Advice working for any conference format. After all, nothing involves the audience so much as the speaker’s story about his own take-offs, mistakes and trials.
6. Explain to the guests how and where they will be able to access the desired content after the end of the conference. Will it be the usual e-mail newsletter, the use of cloud services or downloading directly from the conference platform.
Platforms for video conferencing and online meetings:
YouTubeLive live streaming is the most obvious and easiest tool. It captivates with easy access and various useful functions, for example, chat and statistics section. In addition, using YouTube you can easily share your broadcast with users on other social networks. It is only important to consider that to conduct the broadcast, you must submit an application. It will take about a day to consider it.
Zoom is one of the modern leaders in the field of conferencing. Suitable for video conferencing, online meetings and group chats. The maximum number of participants in the free version is 50 people. A clear advantage of Zoom is its speed and stability of communication – it is able to work on less RAM. It supports broadcasts from mobile devices, the exchange of documents, audio files and images, as well as work with Google Drive, Dropbox and Box.
WebEx is one of the most sought after video calling platforms in the world owned by Cisco. Suitable for organizing large-scale online conferences, as well as for holding meetings and trainings within the company. He pays great attention to cybersecurity. By the way, Cisco representatives have already announced a record increase in the number of users in a pandemic and their willingness to maintain the stable operation of their services. However, for stability, of course, you have to pay. Prices for WebEx services may seem bite, especially for small businesses.
.GoToMeeting is a service for holding online meetings and conferences with an unlimited number of events at a fixed rate. It supports the presentation of presentations, collaboration on documents, sending invitations, as well as recording events and playing them back. The downside is the lack of Russian-language support.
Whereby is a simple and intuitive service for organizing small video calls. It does not require preliminary registration of participants – they just need to click on the link. The paid version supports up to 50 participants, recording and downloading events.
Jitsi Meet is another simple solution when an online meeting needs to be held “right now”, and there is no time to prepare something more ambitious. It works on different devices and with any browsers, without requiring any additional registration or download. The number of chat participants is unlimited. From useful – the function of showing the desktop, working with a common document and the ability to broadcast your chat on YouTube. Of the minuses – the lack of recording audio and video meetings.
Seven services that will be useful when switching to “remote”:
Hangouts Meet is a popular messaging and online conferencing service. It is possible to organize group video chats for up to 100 people. Chat history is synchronized between user devices. By the way, during the time of the coronavirus pandemic, Google made free access to the functions of the Hangouts premium account.
Microsoft Teams is an enterprise service that includes chat, notes, appointments, and a calendar. Included in the Office 365 package and with a corporate subscription, all of its features are available at no extra cost. There is a function of holding corporate seminars for up to 5,000 people and live broadcasts of meetings.
Skype is a classic of the genre. The most obvious option for video communication within a small company. The free version supports video calls with up to 50 people and screen sharing.
Slack is a corporate messenger with channels for personal and business correspondence. The ability to integrate with dozens of third-party services, including Google Hangouts, Google Drive, Dropbox, Twitter, Trello and others. First of all, it is good because the employees in it have no third-party channels and chats other than workers. Therefore, productivity will be significantly higher than when using conventional instant messengers.
Trello – a service for organizing remote teamwork. It is convenient for creating tasks that are placed in the form of cards on boards systematized by topics.
Discord is a voice messenger with text chat. It was originally developed for gamers, but it will also be useful for solving business problems.
Glip is a team task management tool. It combines chat, file sharing, calendars and schedules.
For how long the coronavirus pandemic will last, no one has yet decided to say. But one thing is clear today – the world is changing rapidly, and is unlikely to become the same.