Due to the onset of the virus, a new platform has appeared in our business lives: the video meeting. It took the leading role in business negotiations from one week to another because, after the first closures, companies’ managers and employees had no other option for contact. Calling it a “new platform” is not appropriate at all because video meetings have long been used in certain business situations. However, my first sentence is still correct, as, for most people, their first real experience with the platform occurred last year.
The first screw-ups
Converting to a virtual solution was not easy in a world accustomed to personal meetings, which resulted in aversion. Businesspeoples’ main arguments were the lack of real contact and chemistry, and they highlighted that because we are social human beings, these “plastic” discussions could be successful. We also have to mention the technological challenge. On the user side, it meant a serious problem for the top managers who do not like to make mistakes and wanted to exclude every disturbance. However, in the case of video meetings, unexpected situations can happen, for example, an unstable internet connection, problems with sharing the screen or joining the meeting, just to mention a few issues. Nevertheless, there is a long list of other ways to screw things up. I think I do not need to mention the things that can ruin a perfect leader’s image, starting from managing their mute button to setting up a background. Leaders were reluctant to apply these solutions in the first few months of the pandemic because they felt weak and inefficient, and they were partly right. Then, techniques provided by the different platforms gradually became integral parts of everybody’s life. Now it is almost natural that when two sides make an appointment for a meeting, they really mean a video meeting, and the main question is choosing the appropriate app. Of course, some people are still lagging behind in this field, and if offices close, their business stops as well. Nevertheless, it indicates a serious managerial insufficiency.
The next level
After the first trials, the managers – forced to use the virtual space ¬– have been vying to make the situation more comfortable. The next step was creating an appropriate environment for the meetings. How should we furnish our office at home, or should we show it at all? First, serious fiascos characterised leaders who “acted” while at work. An example of that is when the daughter of a harsh leader who yells at everybody in the office climbs on her father’s neck during a video meeting, showing that she can do anything at home because the father is very lenient. In order to avoid such surprises, people began to organise their meeting spaces and backgrounds. Some people created company backgrounds; others copied a background in the application – you know when the camera follows our body’s figure as a “ghost” – while there were people who showed their environment just the way it was. Later, a growing number of people realised the possibility of brand and image building, so backgrounds have transformed and represent a brand value, where the company’s results can be referred to intelligently.
How far have we gone in the field of virtual meetings? More and more people realise their advantages in business because video meetings represent a new direction of the world of business, which has finally reached its proper position. Surely, they will not stay with us so intensively after the pandemic; however, many people have discovered the possibility of saving travelling time, energy, and money. Why would anybody have to show up in person for a first-round headhunter interview based on their CV if we have not even heard whether they can speak appropriately? From the other side’s perspective, why would a candidate show up in person until they know what the job is exactly about? Why would they spend hours travelling for that? In a cooperation, why would we not make contact more intense by via video instead of mere telephone? Of course, it is not the same as a personal meeting, but it is more personal than a phone call. Several emerging conflicts can be solved, handled in advance without diverting the partner from work for hours. That comes down to one thing: in several cases, video meetings are way more efficient than personal meetings. However, they cannot replace socialisation and human relations. Nevertheless, they can be a very good direction in the future of business. Can we imagine a world where we meet our business partners when we want just to see them instead?