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A working from home employee doing video call to his team mates

Technology has revolutionised the way we communicate, collaborate, and do business in the modern workplace. It’s so embedded in the fabric of business operations, that it’s hard to imagine life without digital tools to help us manage projects, group chat with colleagues, or share information instantaneously.

One of the most impactful technologies of the last twenty years is video call technology. The development of video calling has aligned with a huge rise in remote work and distributed teams, in a world that’s becoming increasingly globalised. Conducting calls via video enables users to communicate face-to-face and facilitates work across distributed teams in a way that other digital tools simply can’t.

In this article, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of video calling and how it can benefit your small to medium-sized business. First of all, let’s go back to basics.

HR manager conducting job interview with candidate on video call
A woman at home teleconferencing with colleagues while cat is on the desk

How do video calls work?

A video call (also referred to as video conferencing) is a live visual connection between two or more people residing in different locations.

Video technologies use IP-based communication services, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), to transmit live images and audio of the people involved in the call. They require a computer webcam or other device with a video camera, such as a smartphone, tablet, or phone system with video.

How video calls are changing the workplace

Modern video calling has transformed how people communicate both in a personal and professional setting. In the past, distributed teams had to rely on teleconferencing, long phone calls, and never-ending email chains to connect remotely. These solutions were neither cost-effective nor time-efficient.

Online video calling provides a robust, affordable, and easy to use solution that facilitates face-to-face communication. The workforce is more distributed than ever, and businesses must adapt to new ways of collaborating and communicating. Today, video calls are more essential than ever before.

Video conferencing platforms are commonly used by businesses to facilitate:

  • One-to-one video chats
  • Live webinars and training sessions
  • Remote group video calls for team meetings
  • Sharing information with project teams, clients, and stakeholders
  • Project collaboration
  • Hosting parties or team-building events for remote teams

Some of the benefits of integrating video into the workplace include:

  • Improved work/life balance: Video empowers employees to stay connected from anywhere, at any time. In today’s dynamic digital world, more and more people are choosing a remote lifestyle because it offers a better work-life balance and prevents burnout. No more do you have to commute to the office just so you can access your work Google account.
  • Reduced need for business travel: Business travel can be expensive for the company paying for it and exhausting for the person doing it. Video enables employees to conduct business activities online, reducing the need for business trips and saving employees valuable time. 
  • Improved team productivity and collaboration: By enabling distributed teams to communicate instantaneously, video can help people stay connected and engaged with their work and their colleagues.

Why video calls boost productivity and collaboration

Moreover, video conferencing technology has come a long way in recent years. Faster connections, better features, enhanced microphones, and high-quality cameras - available for a comparative snip on Amazon - have all improved conversation quality and call functionality.

Below are some of the most powerful benefits of using video in the workplace.

1. Streamlines collaboration across teams.

If you’ve ever connected with colleagues via email, then you’ll know how time-consuming it can be. Email chains often turn into long games of tug-of-war that often don’t end in any worthwhile conclusions. Collaborating, sharing ideas, and explaining concepts via an online video call streamlines conversations and speeds up decision making.

Features of video conference solutions such as team messaging, screen share, and call recording make collaborating across distributed teams much easier. Instead of depending on slow email flows or text conversations to work together, teams can benefit from synchronous interactions and achieve faster results.

2. Facilitates better communication.

Email, online chat tools, text messages, and phone calls lack the essential visual cues that talking to someone via video provides. Often, we don’t even realise how important these cues are for effective communication.

Allowing remote teams to communicate in real-time, as though they were in the same room, is hugely beneficial for productivity and collaboration efforts. It leaves less room for miscommunications and misinterpretations, and results in more agile decision-making, productive conversations, and enhanced team relationships.

3. Video calling is time-efficient and cost-effective.

Video conferencing allows business leaders to communicate with different teams and departments at the same time. It’s a cost-effective method for communicating with distributed teams at the same time, as people can join with the click of the button.

This means less waiting and less valuable time wasted. By removing physical restrictions, video calls can take the stress out of coordinating meetings.

4. Boosts employee morale and workplace culture.

Workplace culture can be particularly difficult to foster among geographically distributed teams. If people aren’t in the office or hanging out during after-work drinks, how can they build relationships? Video makes this possible by emphasising human connection and allowing teams to interact in real-time. When employees feel that they are part of a team, they’ll be more productive and satisfied with their jobs.

Colleagues doing video conferencing on work

When to choose: video call, video chatting and online calls

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, it’s important to note the different functions of each, so you can make the right decision when choosing a video solution for your business.

So what’s the difference and which should you choose in different situations?

Video calls are essential for teams that use the phone to communicate and collaborate. There are different VoIP solutions for consumers and businesses. Consumer-targeted solutions are ideal for communicating with friends and family, Business VoIP solutions, meanwhile, provide a more robust and scalable solution with enhanced calling features, third party integrations, and analytics.

Often confused with video calls, video chats occur when a video call is launched from a chat platform, such as Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp. Often used for small groups or one-on-one calls, video chat apps allow users to switch between chat and a live call with the click of a button.

Voice calls are ideal for quick exchanges of information. If you need a quick answer, then an online voice call is the way to go. With VoIP technology, users can make free voice calls to anywhere in the world.

11 video call features your business should look for

When it comes to choosing the best online video call service, there are certain features to look out for. Choosing a business VoIP solution with these essential video calling features will ensure smooth communication, effective collaboration, and a seamless user experience.

1. Screen sharing

This is a crucial feature for webinars, interactive meetings, and project collaboration. It enables participants to understand what the speaker is explaining and streamlines training, planning, strategising, and decision making.

2. High-definition video

A low-quality video that constantly lags and glitches can be extremely frustrating. A quality video camera can make a huge difference in the calling experience. Solutions that transmit high-definition video allow everyone to see the person who is talking and their facial expressions, as though they were in the same room.

3. Chat features

Online video chat allows users to interact with text chat during a video conference. If you’re holding a webinar or team meeting, viewers will benefit from being able to share thoughts and questions during the event. Some free apps offer integrated team messaging tools for centralised collaboration and task management.

4. Remote control

With this feature, participants can take direct control over one another’s keyboard and mouse. They can edit or make suggestions to shared files in real-time, streamlining collaboration efforts and increasing productivity.

5. Audio-only option

This feature allows participants to join in audio-only mode during live calls. It’s particularly important for employees who are working at home or from offsite locations, or those who lack the necessary equipment to take part in a video conference call. 

Most solutions allow participants to turn off their webcam and microphone. However, users should also have the option to dial into a video live call by entering a phone number from a landline or mobile phone.

6. Call recording for video

Call recording is a useful feature that allows you to record video tutorials, webinars, and other content that you can later share with third parties. Most platforms make recording and sharing video across distributed teams easy with unlimited cloud storage.

7. Calendar reminders

This allows you to schedule, commence, and track meetings by integrating with popular application calendars like Google or Outlook. Calendar reminders and invites make it easier for remote teams to coordinate video conferences, particularly when the involved parties reside in different time zones. Calendar integrations is a key feature to keep teams organised, present, and punctual.

8. Supports mobile

For distributed workforces, software that supports mobile devices is essential. It refers to robust support through an app where users can host or join a meeting on smart devices. With this feature, employees can access calls anytime, anywhere.

9. Branding features

If your business creates video content for clients or leads (webinars or presentations, for instance) then you’ll want to include your company logo or other types of branding for a more professional appearance.

10. Performance reports

Performance reports allow you to evaluate engagement levels and attendance for your video events. Armed with this information, you can understand what worked well and what didn’t, and use it to inform how you carry out future webinars or meetings.

11. Virtual conference rooms

Virtual meeting rooms enable different teams to host meetings as though everyone is in a conference room. Hosts can dedicate focus rooms, huddle rooms, and training rooms, and utilise extra features like online whiteboards for a more effective video conference experience.

A man using ringcentral video virtual training

Frequentle Asked Questions

Different platforms work in different ways, so there’s no single answer to this question. That being said, most platforms are intuitive, easy-to-use, and just require a stable wifi connection. With RingCentral’s video app for desktop, all you need to do is log in and schedule a meeting. 
Other platforms may require that you download a specific application and send out a meeting code to participants. Often you can send these via Gmail, Google Hangouts, your Facebook account, or a variety of other channels.
There are plenty of video app solutions out there for businesses of all sizes. So how do you know which one is right for your business?
Consider whether you’re in the market for a free app or a more robust, costly solution. Think about how many people will be using the app. Think about your current team and its growth rate, and look for a scalable solution that can facilitate that growth without having to change platforms.
Different teams have varied sets of needs, so decide which features will benefit your business team. Integrated chat, recording, and screen sharing are all important if you work with a remote team and can align facetime and collaboration efforts for more effective teamwork.

Perhaps most importantly, an effective video app should be reliable and consistent. The last thing you and your team want is to deal with constant connection drops or video lags (even if frozen facials can be hilarious!)

Choose a solution that suits your budget, but remember that lots of free apps or free versions of solutions have a time limit (eg. 40 minutes), which might not be enough to facilitate webinars or larger team meetings.
One of the most important features of any video app is that it supports mobile devices, whether they’re Android or iOS operated. Luckily, most of the solutions on the market understand the importance of mobile support and make it just as intuitive as making a video call from a desktop. 
Most platforms support Apple and Android devices, including Ipad, Mac, and other Apple devices, as well as Microsoft, Google Duo, Samsung, and other popular Android phones. Initiating calls, too, is as simple as downloading an app from your app store, logging in, and scheduling a call.
A modern man using mobile connection reach calling video calls chatting technology working from home

When it comes to collaborating and communicating across distributed teams, face time matters. Virtual interactions need to achieve the same business results that in-person ones do. Using video to speak directly to team members, share information, and build team relationships is the way forward for growing businesses operating in a digital, international environment.

If you are looking for a good video call platform, contact RingCentral today.