The healthcare sector is one of the sectors that Unified communication solutions like Jamisi Video Conferencing, instant messaging and the rest can play vital roles in ensuring effective and reliable healthcare services.
When it comes to healthcare, efficient and reliable communication is very crucial and even more in that industry where communications solution has a big effect on the quality and safety of patient care and satisfaction.
It is a reality that today caregiving professionals need to deal with lots of patient records surrounding cases and contexts, so it’s important they access the right information at the right time to avoid patient’s risk. There are many cases in the world where patients have died because of the bad connection with the appropriated medical doctor, or due to the bad information in the wrong context, which it doesn’t provide real-time access between clinicians, and makes it more challenging. And here is when unified communications solutions (UC) emerges to transform the way healthcare operates and server their patients. It can enhance business communication, collaboration, and productivity across the entire organization, that’s why it is very important that healthcare’s establish tools in real time and multiples communications channels, whether connected from their desktops or remote devices for patient care facilities.
Perhaps you might be thinking about how unified communications and digital transformation can benefit healthcare organizations, and here are three reasons why they should implement it now.
1. Save money and save lives.
Unified communications integrate a variety of communications tools and applications such as voice, email, fax, video conferencing, instant messaging and presence into a single platform.
Instead of wasting valuable minutes and putting a patient at risk while trying to track down a doctor, medical practices can use UC to have calls or messages automatically routed to mobile numbers. In fact, it can provide constant access to it all for care providers when they need it most.
2. Collaboration and access information in real time
Unified communications put companies on a single platform, allowing employees to be reached anywhere, from any devices and at any time. It also improves the speed at which information can be shared. Consider in medical, every second count. Today’s caregivers need immediate access to all of a patient’s history so make that patient-specific need can be managed.
3. Better patient care experience
From contact centers to face-to-face interaction, the healthcare field is built on serving people. Hosted unified communications solutions can improve the customer experience by giving healthcare companies better contact center processes, enabling mobility, and making critical staff more accessible.
Unified communications deployment will improve many processes in healthcare organizations most notably improving patient safety and patient outcomes while reducing costs through efficiency.
Jamisi Communications as a specialist in digital transformation has been helping healthcare organizations by implementing unified communications solutions. Our solutions ensure that your vital communications are clear, secure, and reliable.
Since businesses are becoming more customer-centric these days, they do not want to leave any stone unturned in order to provide complete satisfaction to their clients. The quality of call center services provided determine the probability of customers who choose to stick to your brand. This calls for the need to unleash the full potential of contact center services to make an easy pathway towards providing better services to the customers.
Here we have tried to cover some of the best basic features of contact center solution which one must choose for their business.
Below are Must-Have Features of Contact Center Solution
1. Automatic Call Distributor (ACD):
Automatic Call Distributor is considered as the backbone of the call center. Generally, the call centers are flooded with large volumes of incoming calls but ACD helps in organizing things in a systematic manner. This telephony system helps in routing/ dispersing calls to the most suitable agent or the department within the company.
2. Interactive Voice Response (IVR):
You all must have experienced IVR system at some point of time while trying to contact any call center. After the IVR greetings, the customer is given the option to choose the appropriate field in which they need some help. Depending upon the selection, the call is then routed to the most appropriate department or the field.
Speech-enabled IVR such as Text-to-speech and Automatic Speech Recognition are also available for IVR routing.
3. Business Tools Integration:
Here is a way to revamp the idea of call centers altogether by integrating call center software solutions with business tools. CRMs, help desks, marketing software, chat systems, and e-commerce platforms are the most common business tools deployed. With this integration, the call center agent would be able to gather all sorts of information about the customers from purchase history, to voicemail, notes, chat transcripts, etc., in order to offer customized services to the customers.
4. Omni-Channel Contact Center:
The customers today demand receptivity and responsiveness in communicating easily with the contact center agents. Omnichannel contact center solution enables information integration across various channels and takes customer’s experience to an altogether different level. Throughout the entire lifecycle of customer communication, the information keeps on integrating whatever the mode of communication is chosen for the subsequent times, and without the customer having to repeat the details again and again. A consistency is maintained and it offers an organized way of dealing with the customers.
5. Reporting and Monitoring:
A number of variables and real-time dynamics play an indispensably important role in determining the performance and productivity of the contact center. Traditionally, the reports and charts could not help in capturing dynamic information effectively. Therefore, today, contact center managers need interactive tools to analyze dynamic information. Dashboards, information portals, and dynamic visualizations help in giving a quick oversight of business dynamics, making comparisons by examining data, quickly identifying and resolving issues and taking effective business decisions.
6. Contact Center Analytics:
To pave a pathway to success, it is important to analyze and profoundly examine the customer’s behavior and the updated trends and patterns that they follow. For that purpose, the managers must have access to comprehensive metrics including call volume, abandonment time, handle time, First Contact Resolution etc. so they can make data-driven decisions for a measurable impact on the contact center as a whole.
7. Call Recording Feature:
Today, with the increasing emphasis on improving customer service and complying with corporate governance policies, the contact center managers have realized the need to record and analyze customer’s interactions. Furthermore, this dynamic information can be used as business intelligence source to have a thorough customer analysis and also sometimes for legal compliance.
Call recording allows you to live monitor your agents, listen to recordings, conduct quality control, record data for any future dispute resolution and much more.
8. Remote Working Capability:
The remote working is the present and future of workspaces. And, this norm makes communication and collaboration mandatory and more pressing. In fact, the distributed workforce needs to get connected consistently to remain communication intact. A softphone is one such communication tool that has the agile remote working capability and user-friendly interface- that implies no need of knocking at your IT team door. Simply, download it from the web, install it, and use it. One more edge- it can be easily connected, even configured with all settings of your workstation PBX. Yes, use your same contact database, PBX features, and the additional features of a softphone (HD voice/video calls, chat, conferencing call, screen sharing, etc.) on your device.
Resiliency means being able to undergo digital transformation while protecting your business from interruptions. The process of technological change is risky, but your company needs to evolve to stay competitive.
Your business can’t afford to lose production time or jeopardize mission-critical data because vulnerabilities have been introduced into your systems. Information Technology Consulting (ITIC) found that a single hour of downtime cost 98% of companies $100,000 or more. Despite the potential economic impact of downtime, a shocking 72% of companies admit they can’t meet data protection requirements.
Resiliency is within the reach of every organization. Most technology savvy businesses are already leveraging the cloud. The cloud protects data and helps companies maintain seamless business continuity by keeping infrastructure current, providing data protection, and giving them an ally in the fight against business interruptions.
Here’s a closer look at ways that cloud promotes resiliency:
1) Keeping Your Company Current
Best in class cloud platforms are inherently up-to-date. The cloud provider ensures that patches and upgrades are installed at the hypervisor level and below.
Having a current and fully patched infrastructure prevents cybercriminals from exploiting vulnerabilities to infiltrate your company’s systems, where they can steal and compromise data or even shut down production. An updated cloud infrastructure also reduces the chance that there will be a system failure that would result in unplanned downtime.
Working with a cloud provider takes the burden of performing upgrades and patches off your company’s IT team while still guaranteeing that systems are not left vulnerable.
2) Supporting Data Protection
Backup and disaster recovery are much easier to accomplish in the cloud. Cloud makes it possible for organizations to achieve levels of resiliency that were out of reach in the past because of cost and complexity.
Hybrid cloud offers public and private cloud environments that are orchestrated for synchronized backups. Synchronized backups reduce recovery point objectives (RPOs), lessening the amount of data loss. With hybrid cloud, the on-premises environment can instantly fail over to the public cloud, reducing recovery time objectives (RTOs).
Cloud allows companies to provision backup resources while avoiding capital expenses. A backup environment can be paid for at a predictable monthly rate. The cloud resources can easily be scaled up or down to meet changing backup capacity needs.
3) Reducing Risk
Companies that use cloud gain a partner in their pursuit of resiliency: their cloud provider. A trusted cloud provider and partner can map out ways to reduce risks and create a cloud strategy that will enhance your resiliency.
A cloud provider that takes a consultative approach will work closely with your company to assess your risk profile and then recommend the right cloud services and solutions that will promote resiliency. An ideal cloud provider will offer backup and recovery services and disaster recovery-as-a-service.
A Resilient Partnership
When choosing a cloud provider, consider the ways it can contribute to the resiliency of your business. Look for backup and recovery offerings, as well as disaster recovery capabilities, that ensure your company stays up and running even after a traumatic incident.
Jamisi Communications offers cloud services and solutions with a focus on resiliency. Our cloud solutions deliver the geographical redundancy needed to recover data after breaches, equipment failure, or natural disasters.
The desk phone has gone through many changes over the years, evolving from rotary dials to push buttons to touchscreens. But are business desk phones a communications relic or do they still have a role in your enterprise communications environment? The answer, as any good consultant would say, is it depends.
Research has tracked endpoint adoption trends for the last several years. The company’s 2018 unified communications (UC) and collaboration study gathered data from more than 600 organizations with endpoint deployments ranging from 15 to more than 50,000 devices. The results are clear: The desktop phone is under assault, but it’s not dead yet.
For example, 27% of organizations plan to increase desk phone deployments by the end of 2020, compared to 24% that plan to reduce them. The percentage of organizations increasing desk phone deployments is smaller than those increasing softphones and mobile UC client deployments, but it’s still significant. For many organizations, the reality is business desk phones still represent an integral part of their UC and collaboration environments. Let your specific requirements, and not market hype, guide your decision-making as you make your future phone plans.
While the handset is not dead, its role is certainly changing. Participants in the research noted several different ways they are now using or plan to use business desk phones.
- Adjunct to a mobile UC client. Some organizations are deploying business desk phones that connect to a PC via USB, with the PC running its own instance of a UC client or a phone that is Ethernet-based and controlled by the desktop UC client. The desk phone functions primarily as a speakerphone to enable users to join meetings or dial from corporate directories with one click.
- Open-area deployments. Desk phones in open areas support guest access and security in locations including college dormitories, office hallways, and reception or break rooms.
- Vertical applications. These applications include desk phones in hotel rooms, nurse stations, or other environments that require the delivery of dedicated applications. For example, a hotel could provision a desk phone with a touchscreen to enable a guest to order room service or make reservations. The hotel could customize the phone’s screen based on the guest’s status and past purchase behavior.
- Simple communication needs. Let’s face it, not everyone requires a team collaboration app, multi-line instance, or the option to join meetings with one click from their phone. Retail branches and small offices may only need voice communication. As such, the plain old desk phone may still be the ideal user interface.
Should you plan for a future without desk phones? Possibly. Is the desk phone dead? Definitely not.
Successful deployment strategies are always based on providing user experiences that align with user needs. You should not force individuals to use a tool they do not want, a tool that does not align with their work style or a tool that complicates their ability to communicate.
For a large and growing segment of the workforce, the desk phone does indeed represent a relic of a different time. But, for many others, the desk phone still meets the need for simplicity, quality, and ease of use. Let your specific requirements, and not market hype, guide your decision-making as you make your future phone plans.
The rush to work from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has led to a rapid adoption of video-based meeting services, often without organizations having the time to perform necessary due diligence to evaluate security and compliance capabilities. Of late, a few security-related issues have arisen around Zoom Meetings, leading Zoom founder Eric Yuan to pen a blog post stating that he has implemented a 90-day feature development freeze to focus resources on addressing security issues.
As you can imagine, Zoom’s competitors have used these issues to reinforce their own commitments to security as they attempt to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
Most recently, Zoom’s encryption model has come under attack, underscoring an issue that isn’t unique to Zoom. Like Cisco and Symphony, Zoom offers end-to-end encryption for its messaging app. However, Zoom doesn’t provide end-to-end encryption for meetings. Rather, as described her, it encrypts voice and video data in transit between the Zoom client or Zoom Room endpoint to Zoom’s servers, but once the data reaches the servers, Zoom must decrypt the data to support recording, transcription, and a variety of other features. Zoom isn’t alone in this respect. For meeting vendors to offer advanced features such as transcription and recording; take advantage of emerging AI capabilities like facial recognition; or support third-party integrations, they must be able to unencrypt video and audio data to analyze it.
The common model for encryption among meeting applications is data at rest (on the provider’s servers) and in motion (e.g., endpoint to server). Cisco is worth noting as an exception, as it does offer an end-to-end encryption option for Webex Meetings.
However, as Cisco notes, using this option disables its web app, recording, the ability for participants to join a meeting before the host arrives, and the use of video endpoints. Another vendor, Wire, offers end-to-end encryption for videoconferencing and messaging, but has a limit of 10 participants per call. The fact that most all video meeting vendors have neither end-to-end encryption nor the ability for customers to manage their own encryption keys as standard in their services means that government entities can obtain a warrant and tap meetings.
Most cloud providers, including Cisco, Google, and Microsoft, publish transparency reports that list government requests for data. Yuan’s blog post notes that Zoom will soon likewise do the same to address concerns about meeting data the government might be requesting to access. More to the point, the debate over end-to-end encryption brings up the question as to whether or not enterprises truly need it to meet their security and compliance needs. Obviously, the unique needs of the organization will drive requirements.
Those operating in regulated industries, conducting meetings in which personally identifiable information is shared (e.g., telemedicine), or involved in national security, will likely have more stringent security requirements than say an analyst firm having an internal meeting to discuss an upcoming research project. For those organizations that truly can’t take the risk of a meeting vendor, or third-party entity, gaining access to meeting data, on-premises meeting platform options from vendors such as Cisco, Compunetix, and Pexip may suffice. Using these kinds of platforms means that a company is buying, deploying, and managing its own conferencing infrastructure within its data center, or within a public cloud service that it controls.
For those responsible for information security and/or collaboration, it’s worth taking some time to understand the security capabilities of vendors in use, and those you may be evaluating for future use. Start first with documenting your own requirements for information protection and privacy and conduct a thorough assessment of whether or not cloud providers can meet your needs, or if you will need to consider an on-premises option.
The current situation is making us seek out new ways to stay connected, keep our spirits up and help one another through these unprecedented times. You can get involved in lots of ways – both big and small. And one of our biggest allies here is technology.
As a result of this distance, friends and families are relying on technology more than ever to connect and communicate. The next time you video chat with your friends and family, mix it up with one of these fun virtual party ideas!
In the absence of being able to see your friends and family in person, a video call could help to bridge the gap. Scheduling a regular catch-up can give you both something to look forward to and helps to add structure to your day.
- Make the most of video calling, whether that’s with Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime or various other methods that are available.
- It might also help to put up photos of friends and family around you too.
Some ways you can
1. Host Virtual Dinner Parties
When we want to hang out with people, the first activity we suggest is going to a restaurant or hosting a dinner party. Since restaurants are only serving take-out or delivery and having people over is highly frowned upon, the next best thing is to host a virtual dinner party!
Invite your friends and family to join you for dinner one night via a video chat. You can all cook the same meal, order from the same restaurant, or make a different meal at home.
Take it a step further and challenge your friends to dress up as if they’re attending a fancy dinner party!
2. Celebrate via Video Chat
Birthdays, weddings, baby showers, graduations—the list goes on forever. All sorts of celebrations have been canceled or derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we can’t be together in person for these momentous occasions, we can still honor the person or event.
Don’t use distance as an excuse not to celebrate a major life event! Send out invitations, create party decorations, pour celebratory drinks, and, most importantly, have fun.
3. Happy Hour with Coworkers and Friends
When you can’t grab a drink with your work buddies after a grueling day at the (home) office, what do you do? You walk to your kitchen, pour your favorite beverage, and head into a virtual happy hour instead!
Don’t skip bonding with your work pals just because the bars are closed for now. Set up a regular happy hour online and enjoy the company of friends as you wind down from the workday.
4. Virtual Game Night
Another way to connect with family and friends while social distancing is by hosting a virtual game night. Choose a fun group game such as Scattergories, Pictionary, Bingo, and Cards Against Humanity and let the best player win.
Invite your closest friends and family members to participate in a virtual celebration using the our Video conferencing tool of your choice. How have you and your friends connected virtually while being apart?
When telepresence first gained attention in the early 2000s, pundits speculated that virtual conferencing would one day replace most business travel and save companies millions in travel spend every year. They had good reasons for those predictions, too. Video conferencing over IP was relatively new, had incredible potential to scale, and already had some serious early adopters.
Despite the steady increase in video conferencing adoption over the past decade, though, business travel never truly experienced the downturn that people expected. In fact, business travel spend increased from $262 billion in 2012 to $334.2 billion in 2019. Before the onset of COVID-19, professionals took more trips than ever. What happened to the prophecies around video conferencing?
Video conferencing slowly gained traction over the last decade as technologies advanced and prices dropped. At the same time, business travel also saw a paralleled increase. Companies simply valued face-to-face interactions more than virtual meetings, touting that in-person meetings fostered better collaboration and drove customer satisfaction.
The COVID-19 lockdowns changed everything
When the COVID-19 lockdowns struck, business travel essentially vanished overnight. In an April survey by the Global Business Travel Association, almost every member of the group canceled or suspended international business travel. Another 92% canceled all or most domestic business travel.
Communications tools such as team messaging and video conferencing suddenly became every organization’s best friend. Employees working from home could continue collaborating and drive business operations. According to App Annie, users downloaded a whopping 62 million business apps worldwide in March—a 45% increase week-over-week and a 90% increase from the previous year’s weekly average, according to App Annie. These apps helped organizations keep their heads above water while offices stayed closed.
A staggered return to work
As restrictions begin to loosen and organizations return to work, however, employers might be reluctant to resume business travel in the near future. Employee safety is the number one concern, and employees might not feel comfortable hopping into taxis, planes, and hotels with a virus still floating around. A survey by the US Travel Association and MMGY Travel Intelligence found that only 22% of respondents would be eager to travel for business after COVID-19 passes.
Similarly, employers are also looking to cut costs for the foreseeable future. A PwC survey on 277 finance leaders found that 80% expect their companies to implement cost-containment measures as a result of COVID-19 disruptions.
The most likely scenario is that organizations will allow travel only for absolutely essential purposes. From executive board meetings to trade shows, organizations will have to assess whether certain events are worth the risk. Organizations will rely on communications technology like video conferencing to fill the gaps, at least until COVID-19 slowly clears.
When should employees choose video conferencing over business travel? Here are a few scenarios to consider:
1. Employee networking
Traveling to off-sites might have been an excellent networking experience for colleagues prior to COVID-19, but it’s simply not worthwhile now. Sure, face-to-face interactions facilitate human connections, and research tells us in-person socializing builds stronger relationships, but video conferencing offers the same levels of presence without requiring trips across different time zones and countries.
Teams can leverage video conferencing to help develop stronger employee relationships through check-in meetings and virtual happy hours. When it’s time to collaborate, video conferencing trumps messaging and emails by allowing colleagues to see and hear one another.
2. Strengthening client relationships
Meeting clients face-to-face is essential to starting off new relationships strong, but chances are that clients are apprehensive about traveling too—at least for the next few months. Traveling to client sites can make relationship-building uncomfortable, especially if representatives plan to work closely with clients.
Relationship development meetings and brainstorming sessions can be easily hosted over video conferencing. Screen sharing acts as a substitute for meeting room presentations, while cloud collaboration services like Google Drive allow meeting participants to work on files together in real time.
3. Town halls
Flying leaders from different parts of the country (or world) for large quarterly business reviews or sales meetings might have been a smart strategy before, but the idea of cramming entire departments into large meeting rooms or town halls in the post-COVID-19 world won’t make sense.
Save time and money by hosting large meetings over video. Speakers and attendees can join from anywhere in the world while staying safe, and the time saved on traveling, commuting, and casual hallway conversations can be spent on covering more topics in the meeting.
4. Talent recruitment
In the past few years, organizations have begun vetting and hiring candidates without ever meeting them in person. Now that traveling to offices might not be in any candidate’s best interests, it’s time HR teams fully embraced the power of recruiting over virtual meetings. Organizations can use video conferencing to access a wider talent pool outside of their geographical limits and get employees started despite keeping offices closed or half-open.
Substitute business travel with the right tools
Experts predict that business trips will eventually recover as face-to-face meetings are still king, but for the sake of employee safety, travel won’t be as prolific in the near future. Circumstances that would’ve constituted travel before COVID-19 can now take place over virtual meetings, ensuring employee safety while containing overhead as much as possible.
Scaling down business travel doesn’t have to hinder productivity. With the right technology, employees can continue collaborating and simulate the experience of face-to-face interactions from any location. Unified communications solutions such as the Jamisi video comferencing App combine team messaging, video conferencing, and cloud phone into a single platform. Employees can effortlessly switch between different modes of communication, moving from messaging to video meetings with a single click.
Organizations with a systematic approach towards meetings are fully prepared to communicate and collaborate in the post-COVID-19 workplace. Make sure your organization doesn’t revert to old business travel habits and ensure a safe work environment for your colleagues.
Terms like on-premises private branch exchange (PBX) might be confusing, but implementing this technology promotes cost-savings and stronger internal and client communications. A PBX phone system routes calls to the appropriate numbers, so it can handle high volumes of calls efficiently, and callers will never receive a busy signal. For organizations with multiple offices or remote workforce’s, a PBX system can forward calls to any desk phone or mobile phone within the organization, meaning seamless client service and cross-location collaboration.
Understanding the differences between on-premises PBX and hosted PBX, as well as their costs and risks for your organization can help you make a more informed decision about which system to implement.
What is on-premises?
When software is “on-premises,” it means that the servers are located on site. Organizations that host software on site have a room dedicated to data hardware, which is managed by employees. The opposite of on-premises software is hosted software, which means that the data is managed by the provider.
While hosted systems are more suited to organizations that don’t have an IT infrastructure, on-premises software offers more flexibility and scalability for large and growing organizations.
What is private branch exchange (PBX)?
A private branch exchange (PBX) is a telephone system that switches calls between users on local lines while providing all users of the system with a certain number of external phone lines. This saves organizations money as opposed to having to purchase a separate external phone line for every user.
What is on-premises PBX?
The “on-premises” tag before a PBX system refers to where the PBX is hosted. On-premises PBX uses IP routing technology for phone calls. It can incorporate voice over internet protocol (VoIP) software, which means that phone calls are transmitted over the internet as opposed to over a traditional phone line.
VoIP offers other features like voicemail to email, which sends a recording of a voicemail message to a user’s email address; simultaneous ring, which means phone calls are sent to a user’s desk phone and cell phone; and call logs, to give your organization a deeper look at call analytics.
Organizations that manage VoIP software only pay for internet versus paying for internet and phone service separately. While the internet is hosted on site, so too are phone calls when organizations use VoIP and on-premises PBX, which gives organizations greater flexibility for calls and conferencing options.
What is hosted PBX?
Hosted PBX is where the provider is responsible for housing the PBX system at their location, as well as managing the technology required to maintain the phone system. The phone lines will plug into a router that sends the calls, signalling, and features to a provider to handle.
With a hosted PBX system, the provider will charge a monthly cost, however, are also responsible for maintenance and feature updates, which takes the load off of organizations’ IT departments.
What are the pros and cons of on-premises versus hosted PBX?
For larger organizations or those making a lot of phone calls, on-premises PBX offers more flexibility for users, and VoIP can save organizations of calling costs. However, organizations that cannot afford higher installation costs or do not have a dedicated IT professional on site might be better off using a hosted PBX system instead.
Purchasing and installing an on-premises PBX system involves buying hardware and software, as well as dedicating a space on site to setup a data hardware room. Organizations then have to train their IT departments on how to maintain the PBX system. On the other hand, hosted PBX systems take the pressure off of organizations to front these initial costs, but organizations have to pay a monthly fee to providers, which makes hosted systems more expensive in the long run.
Pros of on-premises PBX
- Gives organizations the ability to control users
- Can use current phone carrier
- Integrates with VoIP to save on calling costs
- Reduces expenses over time, after expenses are covered
- Ability to SIP trunk to get lower-cost calls
- On-premise IP-PBX provider will qualify network, install and program system, and train staff
- Supports organizational scalability, as it’s easy to add and remove users with no additional cost
Cons of on-premises PBX
- Higher initial set up and installation cost
- Need dedicated and trained IT personnel to attend to technical issues
- Organization is responsible for maintenance cost
- Organization must maintain premise at which to host PBX system
- PBX failure will stop business operations unless an organization has a SIP provider
Pros of hosted PBX
- Lower initial cost and set-up cost, no on-premises hardware required
- Providers are responsible for updating new feature sets
- Adding virtual numbers is easy
- Moving the phone system is easy, because there’s no data hardware to manage
In the last few weeks many cancelled events, from concerts to conferences, have been replaced by virtual ones. And in the process, many are realising that moving events online isn’t just about damage control; it actually brings benefits of its own
With more and more companies shifting resources to virtual events, we compiled this quick and handy guide on how to create a successful virtual event for your company.
Not only have I presented at more than 100 virtual events in the past twelve years, my team and I at Convince & Convert organize and produce more than a 30 online events and webinars every year. We know what works, what doesn’t, and we’re here to share that advice with you.
Let’s dive into some helpful tips in organizing a Virtual event;
1. Keep Session Lengths Short
A 60-minute keynote or breakout session at a face-to-face event is pretty standard and doesn’t usually feel like a slog.
But that’s partially because attendees have other stimuli and the ability to experience presentations in a three-dimensional environment.
It is FAR more difficult to hold audience attention in a virtual event, compared to an in-person conference.
We’re not suggesting that every session in your virtual event be just nine minutes long, but do consider shortening the time slots you would use for a physical event by 15 or 30 minutes.
For example, a 60-minute breakout face-to-face should be 45 or 30 minutes when delivered online.
2. Sharpen Your Titles and Descriptions
When presented with multiple, simultaneous options for sessions to choose from in a physical event setting, attendees will often rely on word-of-mouth, asking other participants which breakout they are attending, and why.
Most virtual conferences lack this dynamic.
Further, many online events rely on emails, social media posts, and other tactics to inform attendees of what information will be presented (there is no written conference guide, or dedicated mobile app in most cases).
Thus, participants in your virtual event have less information when deciding what sessions to tune in for, and which to skip.
Consequently, it is even more important that the session titles and descriptions for your virtual conference programming are descriptive and compelling.
3. Use a Moderator
In a face-to-face event, the moderator helps contextualize the information presented throughout the conference, while also helping to keep energy up and deliver important housekeeping notes.
Many organizations moving to virtual events believe that since the programming is now delivered over the Internet, that this emcee role is no longer necessary.
The opposite is true.
Having a consistent face and voice that “stitches together” the virtual sessions for participants adds much-needed familiarity and helps alleviate the isolated feeling that online events can sometimes produce for attendees.
The best way to implement is to have the event moderator open up the conference online – just like a regular event – and then moderate questions for speakers and pop back online between sessions to chat with attendees (I have played this role many, many times for major online events).
4. Use Attendee Chat Early and Often
The networking component of face-to-face events are almost always cited as the best part of the conference.
While it is of course more difficult to deliver rich networking online, you can assist attendees in interacting amongst themselves and with presenters by making liberal use of the chat/Q&A function in your chosen virtual events platform.
The emcee/moderator should ask attendees questions at the beginning of the day to get participants used to the functionality, and also between sessions to facilitate networking.
Every presenter at your virtual event should be taking questions from the audience using the Chat/Q&A tool.
Further, one of the built-in advantages of online conferences is the ability to use the polling function of the software to ask questions of the audience and get instant, mathematical results.
You should train your presenters how to use this polling feature to make sessions more interesting and interactive.
5. Require Presenter Run-Throughs
Speaking of training presenters, you really should make it mandatory that each of them participate in a run-through of their material a week or so before your virtual event.
Of course, it is likely that your presenters have attended some sort of online event, and may have even delivered a program at some point.
But EVERY online event software platform is different, and presenters need to understand those nuances.
For example, some online conference software packages “hide” presenter notes when in presentation mode. A speaker accustomed to using presenter notes will be mightily surprised when they all of a sudden disappear once the session begins. (TIP: for online events, have all presenters print out their slides and notes)
Further, once presenters are clear on the different interactive elements of the software, and the inherently altered “feel” of a virtual presentation from the audience perspective, they should make changes to their content accordingly.
Let’s put this plainly: for maximum success you cannot just take your offline presentation slides and deliver them online.
6. Use Cameras
To make the virtual conference feel more similar to the face-to-face experience, you should require presenters to use their Web cam while presenting.
This allows audience to see the speaker during the presentation, which adds another layer of information such as non-verbal cues, etc.
Working remotely can be great. You don’t have to spend hours each week commuting or deal with annoying co-workers who won’t stop talking, and you don’t even have to change out of your pyjamas (although we’d recommend it).
You’re in full control of your work environment––meaning you’re able to set up a home office that makes you most productive.
But working outside the conventional office isn’t entirely beneficial. Remote teams experience unique challenges that can hurt their productivity too.
Luckily, these hurdles aren’t impossible to overcome––they just require a bit of extra attention. Let’s look at some of the biggest obstacles a remote worker faces and what you can do to overcome them:
- Home interruptions
- Communication challenges
- Prioritization struggles
1. Home interruptions
Interruptions are going to happen—wherever you’re working. In the office, chatty colleagues and noisy printers can hurt your focus. But at home, interruptions can seem even more powerful.
If you have kids who are at home during the day, they can be a big distraction from your work. Even if you have a babysitter, spouse, or other help in caring for the kids while you’re working, they can be noisy (or want to bust into your home office at the most inconvenient moment).
Even if you don’t have kids, there can still be potential interruptions. From unexpected guests to your cat crawling across your keyboard, knowing how to work from home productively means finding a way to get away from it all.
How to overcome home interruptions
Unless you work and live in a secluded cabin in the middle of the woods by yourself, you probably won’t be able to eliminate interruptions entirely. But here are some things you can do to get the space you need to focus:
- Find some alone space. Set up a desk in a secluded area of your home. This could be in a spare bedroom, a designated home office, or even just a corner of your kitchen or living room––just somewhere you can go that’s free from interruptions.
- Set up a busy signal. If there are other people home while you’re working, establish some kind of signal that lets them know you’re busy and not to be interrupted. This could be anything from closing your door or wearing your headphones.
- Establish working hours. If the busy signal won’t do the trick, establish specific working hours that your family should leave you alone so that you can work. Keep these same working hours for people outside your home, like family or friends who might call in the middle of the day to chat. You can always get back to them when your working hours are done.
- Get out of the house. If your home becomes too full of interruptions, it’s time to check out another space. Look into your local library, a coworking space, or even just the coffee shop down the street.
2. Communication challenges
If you’re working in an office and you need something from someone, you can just walk over to their desk and ask for it. With a remote team, that isn’t really possible—that’s why you need processes and apps to stay in communication with your team.
And when co-workers are scattered across time zones, connecting after the fact isn’t as easy as just pulling someone aside for more explanation. It’s always better to ask questions as they come up and think ahead about what you might need from a teammate.
How to overcome communication challenges
Communication problems typically arise when teams don’t have the right tools or processes for getting in touch. Here’s how you can avoid communication problems when working remotely:
- Provide different team communication options. Every conversation will have different needs and limitations. From quick chats to video calls, there’s a place for a range of communication channels when you’re working remotely. Don’t try to force your employees down just one path––email (definitely) isn’t always the best answer.
For example, Jamisi’s team messaging app also has HD video calls and traditional phone calls––making it easy for teams to connect in a variety of ways. You can even share documents and make comments directly on them, then share them with your team
You can even manage tasks for each team member so that you’re sure everyone will walk away from each meeting knowing what to do next.
- Schedule “intersection hours.” When half your team is in Asia and the other is on the East Coast, finding time to connect can feel impossible. You’ll have to require some overlapping hours across time zones in order to help your teammates connect that’s convenient for the greatest number of people.
If teams are too dispersed (say, Nigeria and Ghana), finding a time that overlaps can be challenging. Rather than requiring intersecting hours every day, try just having an all-hands or team meeting once or twice a week.
- Keep communication in one place. When your team relies on their digital communication to get work done, you don’t want them wasting time digging through old emails or text messages trying to find their next steps. Keeping communication integrated in one place makes it easy for team members to find just what they’re looking for right when they need it. Again, this is where having a communication tool comes in handy:
Jamisi Communications puts everything in one app so that you can access conversations and files from any device—you can find what you’re looking for whether you’re working from your home office or a coffee shop.
Many managers and business owners are worried that letting their teams work from home means nothing will ever get done. But working from home can actually make employees more productive:
In fact, knowing when to step away from work can be a problem for many remote workers.
Unlike in an office setting, you never really leave your desk. When your workstation is still lurking in the corner of your living room, not jumping back on to check emails or just do one last thing can be difficult.
Overworked employees can be stressed, struggle with work-life balance, and overall feel unhappy with their jobs.
How to overcome overworking
Setting boundaries that prevent you from overworking is crucial for long-term happiness in a remote job. Here are some ways you can stop yourself from working too hard or too long:
- Schedule your breaks. Put time on your calendar for taking a break from your desk. Maybe use this time to get a quick workout in, throw in a load of laundry, or just tidy up while listening to a favorite podcast. When the scheduled break is up, get back to work feeling refreshed.
- Set appointments at the end of your day. If you struggle to end your day at 5:00 p.m. (or even 6:00 or 7:00), schedule evening appointments, workout classes, dinner, or other events that force you to get away from your desk. Meet a friend for happy hour or offer to pick the kids up from practice––anything that gets you to clock out.
- “Close” your office for the day. Technology makes it so easy to stay in touch, but that also means it’s hard to completely disconnect. When the end of the day rolls around, power down your work computer, shut the door to your home office, and turn off your email notifications. Leave it for tomorrow.
4. Prioritization struggles
To be good at working remotely, you have to be good at working independently. While you might have video calls or chats with your team throughout the day, you’re usually left more or less on your own to make sure all your tasks get done on time.
Some team members might struggle with this freedom––especially if there are distractions, they haven’t been able to get rid of. When the sun is shining and your dog is begging for a long walk or your kid wants to show you their latest art project, you need to know how to prioritize your work.
Prioritizing work with team members in different time zones also means anticipating their needs. When someone’s “tomorrow” is still your “today,” you might need to plan ahead to make sure everyone gets what they need on time.
How to manage prioritizing to-do lists
Staying on track needs to be a team effort. While employees can have their own systems for getting their to-do lists done, proper task organization is key for keeping all projects moving forward. Here are some tips for managing to-do lists.
- Have a project management tool. Keeping all tasks and projects in a tool like Asana or Trello can give your entire team a big-picture view of what needs to get done. When you can see the path your project will take after your part is complete, you can better prioritize to make sure deadlines are still met.
- Create a priority communication system. With remote teams, it’s easy for an employee to not recognize something is a priority and put it off until the last minute. That’s why it’s important to have a communication system in place for discussing project priorities.
Caption: Asana lets you add priority fields to your projects, so everyone knows exactly what to focus on.
- Use breaks to take care of distractions. You can’t ignore your dog or kids all day, so use your pre-scheduled break time to tackle some of the things nagging at you while you’re trying to focus. Spend 20 minutes walking the dog or quickly tidying up the kitchen. Then get back to your to-do list when that break is over.
While working in your pyjamas might seem great for a day or two, it can get old fast. When you’re not leaving your house to go to the office, you might find that you barely leave the building at all.
Soon, working remotely can feel a bit lonely—the lack of human interaction that often comes with working in a traditional office can lead to isolation and take a toll on your mental health.
But working alone can also just get boring. Without close co-workers to share jokes with or talk about the latest news, you might miss those little breaks in the day that let you refresh or rest your eyes.
How to overcome loneliness
Depending on your living situation, loneliness can be easier to combat for some people. But if you don’t have kids home during the day or a partner or roommate who also works from home, here are some tips for combating loneliness in a remote job:
- Go outside. We’ve already mentioned this as a great way to eliminate distractions, but heading to a coworking space or coffee shop can also be a great way to fight loneliness. Even if you’re still working alone, just being around other busy workers can help lift your spirits.
- Catch up with a co-workers. Even if your coworkers are dispersed all over the world, schedule a catch-up call with someone on your team, a mentor, or even just a friend. At least one video chat a day can help you feel more connected to your team and help combat loneliness.
- Start some remote work clubs. You don’t need to meet in person to create clubs or groups within your team. A remote book club or virtual running club (just to name a few) can add to your company culture and encourage more communication and connection among your teams.
Set up separate networks in your team messaging platform (like Jamisi, which lets you create groups for different projects and clubs) where interested members can join. Then you can hold discussions, ask questions, or talk about non-work-related topics that can bring you closer.
- Network in your city. While it’s great to find ways to connect with your other remote team members, sometimes you just need to get out and meet people in real life. Finding a local networking group can help you feel more connected to your job while also helping you find other like-minded people in your town.
You can even take it one step further and create a group of other remote workers to meet up for lunch or even work together.
Solve remote working challenges with communication and organization
When it comes down to it, the problems that come with remote work tend to fall into two categories: communication or organization. But when you have the right communication and organization systems in place, you can thrive—even if everyone’s in a different country.
To overcome the common challenges that pop up when you’re working remotely, it’s better to over-communicate. Even if you feel like you’ve already said something once or that you’re over-planning a project or task, it’s better to do too much than not enough. After all, remote teams tend to have fewer opportunities to keep each other in the loop.
As you begin to adjust to working remotely, you might find that everyone struggles with different things—check in regularly to see how you can help support your teammates. You are each other’s biggest assets when it comes to remote work!