Videoconferencing is more important than ever and has become an indispensable tool to ensure that remotely dispersed teams can have a feeling of belonging.
Videoconferencing is more important than ever and has become an indispensable tool to ensure that remotely dispersed teams can have a feeling of belonging. As remote working becomes commonplace, it has become a key factor for successful projects.
Natalie*, a young project manager in IT, knows something about how important it is: Videoconferencing saved her hectic day and ensured that an important meeting turned into a great success.
At times, it seems that Natalie has everything. By her thirties, she had established herself in the traditionally male world of IT development. Her professionalism and organizational skills have earned her a rapidly expanding position at Virtuware in California where she is a senior project manager. Despite all her experience, Natalie cannot help but be apprehensive about her meeting tomorrow with Virtuware’s main client, Thoneum, for the release of a new solution. Today, it is her weekly remote working day, which she negotiated with her employer after the birth of her first child. Will she succeed in finalizing all aspects of the project before her meeting?
7:00 a.m. The alarm rings. But Natalie has had only an hour’s sleep. The sudden memory of a screen that needs correction in the client's application has dragged her out of her slumber. Either that or it is the cries of little Emma who is demanding her first bottle of the day.
7:30 a.m. Drunk on hot milk, Emma has gone back to sleep. For Natalie, the usual frenzied activities begin. After a fast wash and an equally rushed breakfast with her other half, Natalie feverishly consults her smartphone. On the East Coast, the first engineers have already been at their desks for a while and, judging by the chatter among the team online, they are raring to go. Now completely awake and ready to take on the day, Natalie posts a message to the team, inviting them to a videoconference at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time. In the blink of an eye, the meeting is in the diary.
9:00 a.m. Natalie dressed for work. Just because she is working from home is no excuse for looking unprofessional. The nanny arrives: Emma is in good hands. In front of her laptop, Natalie connects to the Virtuware’s online collaborative space. She catches up with recent chat messages and downloads the latest screenshots that developers shared. It takes only a few moments for her to check her mailbox. She knows that, at Virtuware, email is never the main focus.
9:30 a.m. Starting the videoconference, Natalie is in the chair, driving the conference. On her screen, she can see the faces of her three colleagues. In her headset, which she uses so as to not disturb Emma, she can hear them as if they were in the same room.
10:30 a.m. After a five-minute break to grab a coffee, Natalie returns to her screen. During the first part of the meeting they dealt with all the main points and made sure that all the essential elements were under control. But a persistent bug is still disrupting the single sign-on process in the Thoneum application. The head developer in Florida shares his screen so that Natalie can see what is happening in detail. It switches seamlessly from application screens to architectural diagrams to lines of code, which Natalie scans as if it were her mother tongue.
11:30 a.m. The issue with the sign-on process is complex and tough to crack. Despite discussions and various tests performed live during the videoconference, a solution has not yet been found. Natalie decides to end the meeting and asks the East Coast developers to continue their research. The next thing in her diary is at 2:30 p.m. Natalie is a little worried but also reassured that 90% of the application works correctly. She is surprised to have stayed on the videoconference for more than two hours without any physical discomfort. It was almost more effective than a meeting at the office. And she was able to keep her slippers on!
12:30 p.m. Emma comes back from the square just in front of her apartment, along with her nanny. Natalie gave herself the luxury of preparing her daughter's meal herself - and giving it to her too. These extra moments that she gets by working from home are precious. Between spoonfuls, she keeps an eye on her tablet and the chat messages from the development team. The work on conquering the bug seems to be progressing well.
2:30 p.m. Natalie re-launches the videoconference. The developers’ faces look a bit more relaxed than they did this morning - that's good sign. Steve shares his screen and this confirms Natalie’s first instinct. However, there is still a problem with the profile picture after authentication. Natalie remembers that the Philadelphia team from Virtuware had encountered a similar problem on another project. On the East Coast of America, it is now 6:30 p.m. and time is running out. Natalie consults the list of developers already connected to the "Virtuware North America" group and makes a voice call to Timothy.
3:00 p.m. Timothy, who is stuck in a traffic jam, was able to explain in detail how he had solved the problem with his colleagues, thanks to the hands-free phone in his car. Once he arrived home, he was able to drop some lines of code into the chat. This helping hand proves to be decisive. On the East Coast, developers start coding at top speeds and the first unit tests seem conclusive.
4:00 p.m. While the developers continue their work, Natalie polishes her presentation for tomorrow. But Emma has other ideas – she has just finished her nap. Natalie gives her a snack before passing the baton back to the nanny.
5:00 p.m. Natalie receives a text message. It's good news - the bug has been squashed! Immediately, she calls the developers for a final videoconference. This time, everything works perfectly on Steve's screen, which Natalie is looking at as if it is her own screen. Steve sends her, via chat, the log in details she will need tomorrow for her demonstration. It was close but everything is now under control for the meeting tomorrow.
6:00 p.m. It's bath time for Emma. Natalie particularly appreciates this moment of peacefulness with her daughter. It is in these moments that she replenishes her energy to be so efficient in her work. While washing Emma, she remembers the funny emoticons she shared with her colleagues in Florida at the end of their last videoconference. Thumbs up and smiles – everything’s fine and she promises that she will take them all out for a meal on her next trip to the Sunshine State.
Collaboration tools allow you to work remotely: Shared calendars, task managers, file sharing and more. But a project’s success is not just about organization, processes and tools. It is also based on a collective dynamic in which the human dimension plays a key role. By facilitating the communication of emotions, through non-verbal communication, videoconferencing conveys contextual elements and helps create the necessary human synergies for geographically fragmented teams.
* Although the names of the characters and companies are fictitious, this story is written using elements that play out for businesses and workers on a daily basis.
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