Workers Worried over Appearance on Video Conference

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Research released today by enterprise ICT solutions and service provider, Damovo UK, has revealed that over a third (39%) of UK workers are reluctant to use video communications for work because they are too worried about their appearance on camera.

Furthermore, 10% said that that they are too embarrassed to talk in front of a camera because it feels like public speaking. For those happy to be on camera, their working location can be a concern with 19% of those surveyed saying that because they work from home or on the road they are aware that their surroundings may not be ideally suited for video. Given these findings it is unsurprising that 86% of the remote and office workers surveyed said that they don’t use video conferencing for work at all.

“There is still a perception that any video, be it multi-party conferencing or one to one, at work has to take place in a special room with technical equipment,” said Alex Donnelly, portfolio manager at Damovo UK. “However, video conferencing is now possible from a worker’s desk or home as long as they have a camera with an inbuilt microphone and a broadband connection. Video is no longer as expensive as it once was and should ideally be used as an extension to their existing communications suite. Consequently, more organisations need to encourage their workers to use video conferencing and treat it in the same way as picking up the phone or walking over to someone’s desk for a chat.”

Despite the reluctance to use video conferencing at work, the study found that this was not due to unfamiliarity with technology, as the majority (88%) of those surveyed had used video services such as Skype, Google Talk or MSN Messenger to talk with friends and family around the country or overseas. However, despite this current reluctance from many people to use video as a work tool, recent research from Forrester Consulting predicts that video conferencing is set to boom. Forrester found that businesses in the UK reflect a much more distributed work environment, with more than a third of employees working away from the company office during the week, often at other company offices, client sites and working from home. This is fuelling a massive surge in virtual working in the UK, which will come to rely on technology such as video conferencing to support it.

Businesses adopting video are also reaping the rewards of increased productivity, with the Damovo research revealing over half (63%) of workers say that they are more likely to action a conversation in a videoconference than in an email. While workers are suffering from email fatigue as their inboxes bulge under the weight of unread messages it can be easy for an important email to be overlooked. However, the immediacy and impact of seeing someone face-to-face in a video conference can make a task more likely to be actioned faster.

The research also found that the face-to-face interaction of video conferencing has a significant impact on the relationships that develop between co-workers. 69% of those surveyed said that they feel that although online communication, like instant messaging and email, has brought greater flexibility into the workplace, it has lessened working relationships with colleagues. Many of today’s online communication tools can cause workers to miss out on the advantages of face-to-face interaction, for example by not being able to understand peoples’ facial expressions. Considering that when we communicate between 60 and 70 per cent of all meaning is derived from nonverbal behaviour, it is understandable that it can be difficult to form relationships with co-workers and establish meaning when working together without the aid of vision.

“Businesses need to re-examine their approach to communication and determine whether video conferencing, or indeed more frequently desktop video, can be added to the communications suite. Video conferencing can help specific departments or dispersed teams to build the relationships that are so essential for efficient and effective productivity no matter where they are located,” added Alex Donnelly.

The survey of 1,000 office and remote users was commissioned by Damovo and conducted by independent research company LM Research & Marketing Consultancy. The purpose of the research was to highlight and understand end-users’ current attitudes to video conferencing.