Dave is one of the most practically minded people I know. He can cook to TV chef standard, navigate up and down Snowdonia without a GPS, and he runs his business unit like a dream. He’s also known for organising fiendishly hard pub quizzes with multiple music and picture rounds.
What Dave can’t do: video conferencing technology.
When so many of us pivoted to work from home (#WFH) last March, getting the younger members of the organisation online and yoked-up to all the tools on the corporate network wasn’t that hard. For millennials and digital natives, services like FaceTime have made video conversing second nature.
But these services weren’t for everyone. Before the pandemic, the rest of us rarely used video as a regular business communication medium. Even I confess to having mainly taken part in audio-only conference calls or accessing the odd webinar.
I’m certainly a video convert: it’s fairly typical for me to stack up 5 or 6 meetings a day. And despite the promising news of COVID vaccines coming through, it’s appearing likely that we won’t be heading back to physical offices until Q3 2021, or later. That means that for now, video is how many of us will continue to meet and work. Even when we do return to offices, all signs are pointing to a hybrid model where many employees will continue to work more hours from home than they did before.
That brings me back to our hero, Dave. He’s just not as comfortable as the rest of us are with this new way of working. It’s not an intelligence thing; he’s a smart operator. It’s not that he refuses to learn; he’s had training and reads internal comms. But his inability to adapt means that he continues to miss important meetings and company events. When he does show up, there are lots of distractions. His mic goes in and out, along with his camera feed (which he struggles to position, and fixes live in meetings). He regularly needs to re-learn how to share his screen.
As companies scramble to pivot to digital, Dave serves as a reminder that not everybody is making the transition with the same ease and productivity level. The problem is that there’s a Dave in literally every office. It’s taking some knowledge workers longer to get acclimated to different modes of working. And this is all happening while IT is working to extend carefully regulated desktop experiences to homes, gardens, sheds, and cars.
Levelling the #WFH playing field
One of the big challenges, especially for smaller businesses that don’t have full-time IT support, is that it’s all too easy to end up acquiring a patchwork of free conferencing apps. Some of these apps come and go like fast fashion trends (HouseParty anyone?). This only exacerbates Dave’s stress levels as he gets overwhelmed by all the various technologies in use. Crucially, if he sees these technologies as fleeting, he’s much less likely to want to invest time in learning them.
All this means that some people risk getting left behind as more workers embrace video. In a recent Future of Work survey my company carried out, 74% of respondents said they were equally (34%) or even more (40%) productive working at home than in the office. These are promising numbers. We could get closer to 100% by addressing the Dave factor.
There are so many good reasons why we owe it to our colleagues who don’t feel comfortable with video to make it easier. As the BBC reported in April, being on a bad, jittery video call means we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language, and paying attention to these consumes a lot of energy. Video working stress is a recognised thing now. If someone feels on the back foot dealing with tech to start with, that’s just a major burnout issue waiting to happen.
Here’s what you can do to support all the Daves in your organisation:
- Stop asking them to make do with what is free or easy to download, and level the playing field. Give them robust, enterprise class systems that they know will endure in the company.
- Take away any legitimate concerns they may have about security or privacy. Look for systems built using ‘Privacy by Design (or Default)’ principles. Systems should prevent unwanted participants from joining meetings and protect users’ privacy with security settings enabled by default or whenever required.
Give them easy-to-access-and-understand online training, support, and encouragement.
In short: let’s empower every Dave out there with robust, secure, enterprise-class systems like BlueJeans so they feel as in control and able to ‘show up’ fully as the most tech-savvy digital natives.
BlueJeans by Verizon is a meetings platform for better remote work productivity. Thousands of organizations, from growing businesses to Fortune 500 leaders, use BlueJeans every day for video meetings and large interactive events. For more information, visit www.bluejeans.com.