December 3, 2015

Article

Video empowers businesses to extend consumerization to engagement plans

Consumerization has been an enterprise buzzword in recent years as technology has shifted the way organizations operate. Amid this changing climate, the idea of consumerizing access to IT services is only part of the equation. While IT processes have gotten a great deal of attention, the reality is that consumerization has extended not just to what tools people use, but how they work. This is particularly evident in the way that businesses engage their employees.

The days of having organizations’ leaders lay down the law and create a culture that supports those goals are starting to disappear. Instead of establishing a corporate ideal that everybody must comply with, many businesses are starting to build their culture around flexibility and adaptability to employee needs. This is not a simple task. Making gradual changes to work culture, expectations, scheduling dynamics and similar methodologies needs to happen if you want to embrace consumerization.

All of these changes add up to create significant disruption for businesses. Some of the operational shifts that come with a consumerized work environment include:

More remote work
When employees are given more options for how they work, many will choose to get the job done outside the office. This can mean the home office or a cafe. Either way, you must be prepared to adjust your engagement strategies to account for the fact that your employees will be operating from diverse locations.

Complex timetables
Providing flexible work hours is a common practice among organizations trying to give employees a greater degree of flexibility. Allowing workers to have more control of their day can play a vital role in helping them balance their work-life priorities and feel more fulfilled in their job. However, it also means that you’ll have your employees working on a very different schedule from one another. The resulting operational climate is one in which scheduling meetings and similar sessions becomes incredibly difficult.

An expectation of flexibility
Just a few years ago, there may have been an expectation, for example, that if a business called a meeting, everybody would need to be in the office that day. Now, when a manager calls a meeting or the company has a town hall session, the assumption is increasingly that a way to experience the session virtually will be offered. This expectations that businesses will be flexible based on employee demands underpins the growing trend of organizations offering consumer-like options in the workplace.

Responding to consumerized work environments
All of these factors add up a work climate where it can be incredibly difficult to provide meaningful connections¬†between workers. Employees who have only ever met over email or the phone wouldn’t necessarily recognize one another if they happen to pass on the street one day. This disconnect can create a few major challenges for businesses, particularly as employees need relationships to stay engaged at work. In many cases, organizations will struggle to create loyalty to the company in a day and age when workers are hopping from one job to another with greater frequency. As such, people may not be too loyal to the company, but it is still easy for workers to care about their colleagues.

Creating an environment in which organizations can embrace consumerization without creating a disconnect between employees is critical if businesses want to engage workers. Video is a vital tool in this area. An effective video strategy lets individuals interact as if they were meeting in person even if they are in a virtual meeting, making it much easier for them to remain connected to the office and the company culture even if they are following their personal work patterns.

Three ways that video makes this possible include:

1. Meetings aren’t hit-or-miss affairs
Virtual meetings can vary wildly in terms of their quality. Some people do just fine interacting on the phone during these sessions, while other struggle to identify when it is a good time to interject into the conversation. In some cases, this uncertainty can cause people with good ideas to shut down and not really participate in the session. In other instances, everybody is participating, but the lack of body language gets in the way of meaningful interactions and people don’t quite end up understanding one another well.

Video can help companies avoid these problems by making it much easier and more natural for people to interact. However, finding success in this area hinges on ensuring good video performance, as any problems with how the video technology works can come in between your workers and having a good session. Regardless of this challenge, video can provide greater consistency in terms of the quality of your meetings.

2. People can interact more casually
Phone conversations and other virtual meetings can become stilted and even end up following fairly standard patterns as people slip into routines. Video’s more natural connection positions workers to be themselves and interact more casually, creating stronger personal connections in your workforce.

Meaningful personal connections play a vital role in building healthy office relationships, and video provides an ideal communication tool to support natural interactions.

3. Scheduling is easier
Finding a time when a disparate group of workers can be available to gather for an in-person meeting can be incredibly difficult. This is especially true if you have remote employees who don’t live close to your office. In these circumstances, in-person meetings represent a major roadblock as they force people to change the way they get through their day in order to be in the office. Furthermore, meetings can end up getting pushed off because it is difficult to find a good time to get everybody together in the same place.

Video lets your workers gather at their convenience, ensuring that scheduling problems don’t leave you delaying key sessions.

Consumerized workplaces may change many operational dynamics in your office. However, you don’t need to sacrifice key employee connections and culture creation opportunities just because you are establishing flexible work options. Video lets you engage employees in meaningful ways, even when they aren’t working at the same times or in the same locations.