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Over this past year, a lot of businesses have had to rapidly rethink the way they operate. For those of us based in an office, the fabric of our working life has changed completely. While there are signs of a return to normality, there’s a lot of guidance and legislation to follow first. And, in having to adapt our lives so quickly, we have embraced the advantages and innovations of remote working.

During these difficult times, keeping in touch has been more important than ever to ensure team morale, coordination, and efficiency. While physical meeting rooms have been out of action, workers around the world have turned to remote collaboration. But deciding on the format each meeting should take can be tricky because there may not always be strategic communications plan examples you can pick up and follow. Choosing between audio-only or video conferencing completely alters the dynamic of a meeting. Knowing which to use in a given situation is key to maximizing productivity.

With that in mind, here are three points to consider when planning a remote meeting.

1. Do you need visuals?

One clear advantage of video conferencing is the scope for sharing visuals. This is as close as we can get to recreating a workplace scenario from home. Visual aids are proven to make a presentation more engaging for the attendees, and combining illustration and comment helps us communicate our own ideas.

You can enhance the meeting experience by utilizing a digital workspace — that way, you can share your screen as people collaborate in real time during the session. This will allow for a greater degree of synchronicity, which will help greatly in various processes like product development and crowd testing.

Remote visual collaboration doesn’t have to be difficult. The combination of a video conferencing tool and a digital workspace can virtually make it feel like everyone is in the same room. So, whether you’re adding sticky notes and images to a virtual whiteboard, presenting slides, or sharing prototypes with your team, a video call is your best bet.

Without being able to meet clients and customers in person, video marketing tools have also come into their own as an essential component for growing businesses.

2. Do you have time?

There may be occasions when visuals are appropriate for a quick catch-up — for example, if you need to explain a complex idea via a digital whiteboard. If you’re expecting a short meeting, though, audio-conferencing will often suffice.

Regular contact is essential for so many aspects of working life, from coordinating long-term projects to refining a prototype. But using video calls for all of these costs preparation time that would be better used elsewhere.

Also, if it’s a regular meeting between a similar group of participants who know each other well, you can probably communicate well without body language and facial expressions.

So, audio conferencing is affordable, simple, and a time saver. With the use of a virtual phone number, it can also be done through any device, meaning we can dial in from anywhere. As long as you know how to conference call on Android, iPhone, or any device you have available, you’re ready for anything. If you can involve everyone and cover your agenda without visuals, there’s no need to make every call over video.

However, the rapid move from real to virtual life has presented a lot of challenges. Ensuring the safe use of online comms tools can be daunting if you aren’t tech-confident.

Though one brand’s user engagement strategy may differ significantly from another’s, all will be underpinned by effective online communication. Luckily, with teleconferencing being the new normal, companies are striving to make contact as simple and secure as possible.

Of course, audio calls or even a strong social media presence are great ways of maintaining contact. A lot of the time, though, the contact can be passive and doesn’t adapt to the moments when you need to express yourself and fully engage with another person. Don’t underestimate the dimensions of interaction that video can add.

3. Do you have the right equipment and environment?

It’s not a guarantee that everyone you need to speak to will always have the means to video conference. That doesn’t mean that those interactions are less important.

These days, we need to be adaptable to different ways of communicating, whether with colleagues, clients, customers, or vendors. Technical hitches, lack of equipment, or a bad connection could mean a video call is out of the question. If there’s a lack of quality software or hardware somewhere down the line, it’s difficult to ensure everyone is up to speed.

With regular meetings, you’re likely to know everyone’s tech situation, and we should be used to making our surroundings as optimal as possible. Other circumstances will be less predictable, and life outside the office means we have less control. Scoping out the best way of communicating with somebody doesn’t take long, and doing so will help ensure a positive experience.

Like any business decision, cost is also a major factor in adopting teleconferencing. As you’d expect, the added benefits of videoconferencing tend to make this the more expensive of the two options. This is a decision that requires plenty of forethought and reflection about risk management considerations for your project.

Look at the budget you can set aside in order to invest in the software and hardware your team may need to get the best experience possible. If you’re trying to save depending on the quarterly budget, an audio-call is a better option. But when the time comes when you’ll need to get your distributed team collaborating – then definitely look into taking advantage of the multiple features a paid video conferencing software can provide. If you’re in a budget-restricted situation, there is also a myriad of free productivity tools you can make use of to supplement your collaboration process, whatever form it may take.

That said, it’s undeniable that any business will need face-to-face interaction between employees, customers, clients, and partners. A lot of the time, audio calls simply won’t meet your requirements. Investing in a reliable, all-purpose video option is a must. Even if it’s a video conferencing for small business solution that will make less of a dent on your budget.

A lot of people who worked through lockdown found that productivity and efficiency increased. Many would feel disappointed if the lessons we’ve learned by working and supporting each other remotely weren’t factored into the future of work. Online communication has been central to this.

Consider the right platform for each moment, embrace the positives of teleworking, and you’ll be ready for the next stage.

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