In conference calls as in life, if something can go wrong, it probably will go wrong. But at least, there are plenty of things you can do to minimise the risk of problems, or to put them right quickly when they arise.

Reading this short PowWowNow guide to troubleshooting conference calls is one easy step you can take. And of course, choosing PowWowNow as your services provider is another. Because when you choose to use the people who are best at what they do, you’ll get the best results for what you do, every time.

Or in other words, with PowWowNow, troubleshooting your audio conferences will be easier, because our tech, our app and our call services will make sure there’s much less trouble to shoot in the first place.

How to conference call effectively

So let’s assume you’re using our tech to get you off to a good start with your conference. In which case not many, if any, of your troubles will be down to the tech itself or even to the tech/human interface, but simply to a lack of knowledge amongst participants. Here’s how to conduct an effective conference call.

As for a traditional face-to-face meeting, if you are the organiser you will of course have sent out invitations with the correct details of date, time and place (in this case: on the phone). This will have included the correct number to dial and the PIN for access. You will also have circulated an agenda to all participants. So there’s really no excuse for anyone not arriving fully briefed, fully prepared, and on time.

Three tips for better sound quality in conference calls

Before your meeting gets underway, it’s a good idea to troubleshoot any audio problems. The top tips to ensure better sound are:

1) If you’re dialling in by mobile make sure you use the short code provided. We’d recommend using a landline if possible when connecting to your call.

2) Make sure you have a strong and steady internet connection.

3) Avoid using the speakerphone function. Otherwise you will be hard to hear and you will find it harder to hear the other participants.

The organiser or chairperson should also point out that it’s conference calling etiquette and best practice for everyone who isn’t actually speaking to use their mute function (press #6 with PowWowNow.

Dealing with latecomers

Despite the invitation and the clear start time, someone might still arrive late. If this happens, you can minimise the interruption by quickly introducing them and updating them on which point on the agenda you’ve reached, then telling them they can catch up later via the Minutes or the recording. (We’re assuming you’re using the PowWowNow recording function – press #8 – to record and store the whole call.)

From here on in, troubleshooting audio conferences is just like troubleshooting face-to-face meetings, because the issues are the same.

How to keep control

You have an agenda, and the chairperson needs to ensure the discussion sticks to it – just as they would in a physical meeting. Discussion not only needs to be on topic, but also carefully controlled so that everyone can be heard. Around a meeting table, it’s easier to tell when one person is about to finish speaking, or to identify who wants to speak next, or when someone wants to interrupt. When you can’t see the other participants it’s not so easy, so the chairperson must give everyone an equal opportunity to contribute, and allow them to do so without interruption.

Now your call should go smoothly and reach the end of its agenda with objectives achieved and clear action points defined. Then it’s time for the chairperson to summarise what’s been said, to thank and say goodbye to each participant individually, and then to hang-up. As soon as possible afterwards, Minutes or summary notes of the meeting should be circulated. These can be based on notes made at the time, or on the live recording accessed via the PowWowNow Account.

Not just all talk

A conference call has many advantages when it comes to getting business done. From eliminating unnecessary journeys, to ensuring the most efficient use of invitees’ time, to helping to maintain a focus on the business in hand without the distractions of a face-to-face meeting, a conference call is a highly productive way to do business.

And when you follow the tips outlined above, you can ensure that all your audio conferences successfully and effectively turn meaningful talk into worthwhile action.

 

If you’ve been conference calling for a while now and feel it’s time to up your remote meeting game, then introducing screen share to your meetings is the obvious choice. It will bring a little bit of extra panache to your meetings and will lead to more collaborative and productive meetings. Here’s our screen share 101.

What is screen share?

If you were to take a wild, albeit logical guess you’d probably figure the clues in the name. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, it involves sharing what you have on you screen. Specifically, the people in your meeting will see whatever is appearing on your computer screen. You’ll most likely have the option to share your entire screen, an application window, or a browser tab.

How to initiate a screen share?

You’ll be pleased to know it’s as simple as it gets when it comes to initiating a screen share. You don’t need to be a tech titan to get going. When you’re all dialled in and in your meeting room, you’ll see a button in your left hand nav bar, conveniently named ‘Share screen’. Click this button and you’ll be asked what you’d like to share, your entire screen, an application window, or a browser tab. Choose which one you want to share, click share and hey presto you’re sharing your screen.

Anyone in your meeting can use this tool, so you can SHARE it amongst everyone (see what we did there?) Awful, we know.

The perky perks

Enough chatter about the what and how, let’s get to the meatier why. Conference calls are brilliant and all but when you really need to visualise something, they fall short, that’s where screen share comes in and saves the day. Giving people in your meeting something to focus on means more engagement. With a phone call it’s easier to get distracted and give the occasional ‘uh huh’, whilst also sending copious emails and any other menial task not necessarily associated with that call.

Adding this visual element to your meetings makes it much easier for everyone in the meeting to work together and collaborate. You can all provide real time feedback, which saves you waiting and chasing on an email you sent two weeks ago. It also helps you really control and steer your meeting, using screen share to bring your agenda to life, resulting in more productive meetings.

When to share your screen?

There are way too many use cases for us to cover in this post, but we’ll consider a few stand out cases. You ever found yourself in a situation where you’re battling tech and tech is winning? You can’t for the life of you figure out how to solve the issue. That’s right, it’s fantastic for solving tricky tech issues. If you’re working remotely, contact your IT department and they can run through exactly how to solve the issue.

Another case that isn’t immediately obvious is product demonstrations. It’s a handy tool to run through your product with customers and really highlight the benefits your business has to offer. The same can be said for client meetings. If you want to make the best possible impression, then adding visual elements to the meeting will make you stand out much more than a simple telephone call.

Last but certainly not least, it’s a brilliant tool when you just want more effective internal communications. We get that one of the issues with remote working is an over reliance on emails, instant messaging and telephone calls that can sometimes lead to miscommunication. Sharing your screen means it`s much easier to explain exactly what you’re referring to, as you’ve got visual evidence to back up your points.

That’s it for our screen share 101. Try it for free today and decide if you agree with the benefits we’ve outlined!

If one of the things you need to know about conference calls is why you need one, then you probably don’t.

However, if you’ve already cottoned-on to the convenience, ease, efficiency and productivity benefits of audio conferencing – perhaps because you’ve taken part in a few in the last couple of months – then now’s the time to find out how to conference call for yourself.

As the organiser, your responsibilities are slightly different from those of a participant. But don’t worry: as this brief guide on how to audio conference will prove, they’re still nothing challenging.

How to host an effective conference call

As you probably know, conference calls are a simple concept. If you can get things discussed, agreed and done on a phone call to one person, imagine how much more you can achieve on a call to several people. And if you can use your time in productive conversation on a conference call, rather than wasting time travelling to and from a meeting to have the same conversation face-to-face, why wouldn’t you?

All you have to do is make sure you know how to conference call effectively. Which means organising and managing your conference calls as efficiently as you would a face-to-face meeting. Plus, you don’t have to be limited just to talking. Use our video conference call service and you can show documents and share your screen to support even more effective communication.

How to set up a conference call

Like any meeting, assuming you’ve got things to discuss, the first thing to do is make sure you’ll have the right people there to discuss them with. So you need to send out invitations. This is easily done, using a calendar invitation just as your would for a physical meeting. You provide the date and time, location and in the body of the invitation you need to provide the dial-in number and PIN for the guest to use. Then send off the invitation to everyone you need to be there and… that’s the logistical admin done.

That’s not the whole story of ensuring a productive call, though. As with a face-to-face meeting, the way to make sure your call is productive is through preparation and planning.

How to plan a conference call

So in advance of the meeting – ideally as an attachment to the invitation – share the agenda with all participants. If it’s not ready when you send out invitations, at least make sure you share it far enough in advance to give everyone who’s taking part the time they need to prepare themselves with whatever information or answers they need, or questions they might have. Your agenda will also be your essential framework for keeping your call on track when it takes place.

Of course that’s just the same as in a face-to-face meeting – but sometimes the novelty or different circumstances of an audio conference lead participants to be less focussed and more chatty – and before you know it, you’ve heard all about the weather or their dog’s latest escapade, but nothing about next month’s financial forecast.

So now you’ve planned and set-up your conference call, you’ve found a quiet environment from where you can make the call without background noise or other disturbances, and it’s time to start. Now: here’s how to audio conference effectively.

Don’t be late

Firstly, be on time. This is especially important for the organiser, but you should hope your attendees will do the same. It’s not just efficient; it’s polite too. Secondly, take charge and keep things business-like, by asking each participant to introduce themselves before you begin to work through the agenda. Also, ask everyone to use the PowWowNow mute function (press #6) when they are not actually speaking.

How to finish your call

Now the rest of your call can follow the format of a face-to-face meeting: work through the agenda, allow discussion but keep it succinct, summarise at the end, and outline next steps and actions individually for each participant. Don’t forget to use our record function (press #8) to record and store the entire meeting.

Finally, tell everyone how any follow-up will be communicated (most likely by email) and address each person individually to say goodbye. Then hang up. Ideally on the same or next day, send a follow-up email to all involved that summarizes the call. And if you’re worried you haven’t remembered everything, simply play back your recording via your PowWowNow Account.

And that’s it: everything you need to know about organising and conducting a successful audio conference. Want to give it a go? We’re ready when you are.

Here at PowWowNow we’re firm believers in flexibility and how it helps find a balance between work and family life. This Father’s Day we want you to honour those fathers who are doing their very best to juggle work and family.

So with that being said, to celebrate, we are launching a competition to show our support for all the inspiring things Father’s do and give you the chance to show them the appreciation they deserve.

To nominate your #WorkDadHero, head over to our Twitter or Instagram pages, follow us, then reply or comment by tagging your nomination and include the #WorkDadHero. They could be in with a chance of winning a Cornerstone leather wash bag plus a mini shaving gift set, and you could receive a £10 Amazon gift card. There will be 8 winners in total, 4 nominees and 4 nominators. The winners will be selected at random and announced on 23/06/2020.

We’re super excited to see your nominations!

T&Cs apply.

Terms & Conditions

  1. PowWowNow (the “Promoter”) is running a free prize draw (the “Promotion”) for the prize listed below (the “Prize”). For the promotion, participants will be able to enter a free prize draw with a chance for the nominee to win a Cornerstone leather wash bag, a mini shaving gift set and the nominator a £10 Amazon gift card.
  2. Prize draw is only for UK residents who are 18 years or older. Participants must have a UK postal address.
  3. The Promotion will commence on the 15th June 2020 and the closing date of the Promotion is 11:59 pm (GMT) on the 21st June 2020.
  4. To qualify, participants must nominate a ‘work Dad’ or ‘working Dad’ through Twitter or Instagram by tagging their Twitter handle or Instagram account and including the #WorkDadHero
  5. At the end of the entry period for the prize draw, the winners will be selected at random. Nominators and nominees will not receive a physical or virtual confirmation from PowWowNow of entry.
  6. Winner(s) will be informed of their win by direct message and will be asked to provide an email. Each winner will have 72 hours to respond, the Promoter reserves the right to forfeit their prize and reallocate it to a reserve winner chosen by the Promoter if they do not respond within the allotted time.
  7. Prizes will only be delivered to UK addresses. There are 4 prizes available for the nominees: a leather wash bag and mini shaving kit worth £55. There are 4 prizes available for the nominators: an Amazon gift card worth £10. Prizes are subject to availability, if the prize is no longer available we reserve the right to choose a different one for you.
  8. Prizes are non-transferable and there are no cash alternatives.
  9. The judges’ decision is final. Standard terms & conditions apply.
  10. Please note you can only enter once either through Twitter or Instagram. Entries from duplicate accounts will not be eligible.
  11. The Promoter is not responsible for competition entries, Twitter or Instagram responses or email notifications that are lost, damaged or delayed as a result of any network, computer hardware or software failure of any kind.
  12. The Promoter shall not be liable for any damage, loss, liability, or injury (save for personal injury or death caused by the Promoter’s negligence) caused by matters relating to this Prize Draw.

Just like real life meetings, video calls can be nerve-racking. They can also be hilariously awkward, a great example is after a painfully long silence, you always still manage to talk at the exact same time as someone else. That’s not to say they can’t be incredibly productive. In fact, 94% of businesses who use video conferencing state that the company benefits from greater productivity[1]. To have worthwhile meetings with video, it’s important to conquer your video call confidence issues, on that note, let’s get going.

A certified newbie

We’re all newbies at one point, the first time trying something is scary. Whether this be riding a bike, learning to drive, flying a rocket into space (we’ve all been there), once you’ve got over the initial fear things get easier. The same goes for video calling. Sure, your first ever meeting with video might include some hiccups (hopefully not literally) but stick with it, you’ll soon take the fear out of video.

It’s important that you get used to your webcam reflection. You ever seen yourself on video and thought to yourself wow, do I really look like that? There’s a reason it’s such a surprise. The vain creatures we are means that we’re used to seeing ourselves in a mirror, which wait for it, is a reverse image of ourselves. So, when we see the reverse of that image (you still with us?), it can be quite a shock. But this can be solved by good old familiarity, the more you see yourself on camera, the more comfortable you become.

It’s all about the prep

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again (and probably many more times), preparation is super-duper important. An effective way to sedate those butterflies in your tummy is to do your prep. If you go to a meeting with no clue what it’s about or what you want to say, then of course you’re not going to be full of confidence.

The same applies to video calls and how to prepare for one. You will want to test out the tech beforehand, this ensures you know exactly how to use all the features such as screen share, present document, online chat, agendas and more. Knowledge around the features and how the tech works will only bolster your confidence when it’s showtime. Location is important too, try not to have a meeting at your local food market.  Choose a place where you feel calm, cool, and composed (the 3 cs) with relatively good lighting so you don’t appear as a mysterious shadow. Last but not least, if you’re working remotely then get dressed. It doesn’t have to be black tie, just make the effort to change out of your loungewear (the top half at least).

Know the unwritten rules

Great, just, great, there’s unwritten rules I need to follow. Don’t worry they’re all fairly straightforward and by following and understanding video call etiquette you’ll be closer to conquering any confidence issues you might have.

Follow these simple rules and you’ll have better meetings, simples.

There’s a time for video

One way to knock your confidence is to use video when it’s not necessary. Knowing when to use video calls keeps them exciting and will help you be more productive when you have them. If an email, instant message or conference call will get the job done, that’s fine. You don’t need to feel pressured to always have your video on. Try and save it for those occasions when you need to discuss something in depth, when that virtual face-to-face really does benefit the meeting. This will help with your video call confidence because you achieve stuff in the meeting and no ones time gets wasted.

Familiarity, preparation, manners and knowing when to use video will help you overcome any confidence issues you have. So, you know what they say, there’s no time like the present!

[1] https://skillscouter.com/video-conferencing-statistics/

t would be silly of us to pretend that every video call is a seamless experience, with zero hiccups and perfect connections. As with anything tech based, there can sometimes be some uninvited issues (keeps you on your toes at least). So, rather than plead ignorance, we’ve decided to address some of the most common video call issues and advise on how best to solve them 

A pesky broadband connection 

One of the most common video call issues, a poor internet connection. Don’t despair there are some simple actions you can take to make this less of an issue.  

Ensure you’ve closed all unnecessary browser tabs and run a broadband speed test to see how it’s performing. If you know your broadband is up to mischief then we recommend dialling in, a phone connection will be more reliable if your internet connection is poor. If you’ve joined using webcam with computer audio and the connection is choppy, then switch your webcam off. This will help, as it will use less bandwidth and should help your audio stabilise.     

Lots of background noise 

Don’t you just hate meetings where it sounds like someone is in a wind tunnel? Us too.  

This one is a simple fix. If you have one, then always use a headset. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, a pair of headphones lying around will do the trick. You’ll get a clearer sound if you happen to be in a noisy environmentIf you don’t have a headset then mute yourself when you’re not speaking, this will help everyone have a smoother and more productive video call experience.  

Compatibility conundrums 

Before you use any video call product make sure that the device you’re on it supported. This won’t take long and can often be found in the FAQs. There are two main things to check, with a browser-based product ensure the browser you’re using is supported. The other is to make sure your Operating System (OS) is supported. This will prevent any unnecessary hiccups when joining and help you have the most productive meetings.  

Unknown territory 

When using video for the first time  there’s no harm in doing a dry run, get familiar with the tool. This means understanding how to join and set-up a meeting, the layout and the features it offers such as how to initiate a screen share. This will help massively when it comes to having the actual meeting. You won’t waste any time trying to figure out what each button does and can get right on with the important stuff.  

Confidence issues and conquering them 

meeting with video is different from your run of the mill conference call. It feels like there’s a lot more to think about when video is involved and there is but that doesn’t mean it has to make things difficult. To take the fear out of video it’s important to understand why you’d use video. You’re able to humanise the conversation and communicate more effectively, which is great when meeting new clients or teaching an online class for example. Meetings with video tend to me more engaging because they are closer to a real-life meeting and encourage participation from everyone.  

To help with your confidence in front of the webcam understand you’re not alone. We’re all self-conscious to an extent, people are more fussed about what they look like than what you look like. Choose an environment that you’re relaxed in, this will translate to how you appear on video. Finally, and most crucially, the more meetings with video you have the less you’ll worry.  

Become a video conferencing pro 

Now that you know the potential issues that could arise and exactly how to tackle them there’s nothing stopping you from becoming a pro. So, go on, get video calling today!  

For more information please see our FAQs 

 

The concept for video calls have been around for a while now, longer than you might have guessed. The first experiments involving this tech happened way back in 1927, by AT&T.[1] Sure, it would have been a far cry from the HD video experience we have today, but still, it shows how long people have known the importance of using tech to get closer to a real life face-to-face. With that brief history lesson over (yawn), video has become an integral tool to support remote working. Today, more people are plotted in front of their webcams than ever before so here’s our video call 101 on everything you need to know.

What is a video call?

Well it’s a call using video, durr. That’s correct but with modern day video products they often come with plenty of extra features, all with a shared goal of improving your experience and increasing productivity. Features to look out for include agenda, screen share, present document and online chat. This is a good opportunity to tell you that our video call product has all these features plus more. Our goal being to replicate as many aspects of a real-life meeting as possible, with the difference being that it all happens online!

How to run a video call?

The first step is preparation. You want to prepare like you would for a real-life meeting, plus you want to make sure you’re familiar with how the tech works. We cover this in more detail in how to prepare for a video call. Once you’re all prepared and ready to go comes the easy part, starting your meeting. Simply share your meeting details with your Guests and connect to your meeting room using your webcam and computer audio. This is going to sound obvious so please do forgive us, but make sure your webcam is connected.

Once everyone is in and ready to go start making the most of video and the other features to have an engaging meeting.

When to use video calls?

Nowadays, a video call is the go-to piece of tech when working from home and this isn’t always a good thing. There is a new term that you might have heard being used, that term being video fatigue. The term comes from the overuse of face-to-face video meetings, leaving people feeling exhausted and angry at their webcam, if this is something you’ve experienced then there are ways to alleviate it.

So, what are we getting at here? Simply, there is a time and a place where video calls aren’t needed and a short email or conference call (hint, hint) can do the job. You want to make the most of what this tech has to offer by using it in certain situations. When you and your team want to discuss something in depth, when your communicating with clients, educating your pupils or trying to recruit a new candidate. These are just a few situations where the element of video really comes in handy and trumps other communication tools. Here’s some more on when to use video calls and how you’d use the tech for each situation.

Where to use video calls?

One thing with this tech that you must bear in mind, which you might not with say a phone call, is where you have a video meeting. The factors you’ll want to consider, is the location I am in relatively quiet? Is my internet working? Can my face be seen? Am I relaxed and comfortable? Is the background behind my webcam appropriate? If the answer to any of these questions is a resounding no, then you might want to reconsider your set-up and read more on Where to make a video call. If the answer to all these questions is yes, then jackpot, you’re ready to have your meeting.

Get going today

If you haven’t already hosted or joined a video call before, then there’s no reason not to. Sure, it can take some getting used to, but you know what they say, practice makes perfect.

[1] https://www.bmmagazine.co.uk/tech/history-video-conferencing/

What is an online meeting?

We understand that when we throw out the term online meetings, it can cause some confusion. Think of it as an umbrella term, which shelters several different tools. These tools reproduce an aspect of a face-to-face meeting but online. The goal is to increase productivity for remote working teams and move away from the idea of the traditional office being the hub for getting stuff done. Now that’s out of the way, let’s get into our essential online meeting tools overview.

Conference calls

Let’s start with a classic shall we. Technically not an online meeting tool but one that paved the way for many we see today: Conference calls. I’m sure everyone’s aware of the tech solution that uses the trusty telephone. A brief history lesson (yawn), they were invented way back in 1956, transforming how the workforce communicated with group calls.

The concept is simple, you dial a number, enter a PIN and boom, you’re all on the same phone call. Suddenly you could talk with clients on the other side of the world and not have to spend countless hours and coin on unnecessary travel. They’re straightforward to set-up also and if used correctly can be super productive. Overall, this piece of handy tech showed just what was possible and led to the online meeting tech we see today.

What is screen share?

A screen share tool does exactly what it says on the tin, allows you to share your screen. We’ve all had meetings where everyone wants to discuss something different and it turns out to be a massive waste of time. By sharing your screen you’re focusing everyone’s attention on something specific, making it much easier to have a productive meeting. If you want instant feedback on the project you’ve been working on, need help with a tech problem or just want to share an interesting website you stumbled across, then this is the best way to do so.

Don’t believe us? Here’s three ways screen share could save your meeting.

What are video calls?

The next important piece of tech is video calls, a solution that brings us slightly closer to replicating face-to-face meetings. With a recent survey finding a huge 96% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that video conferencing is effective for improving the connectedness of remote team member[1], the tech is here to stay.

So, what are video calls? You could say the proofs in the name, but as products they often come with a host of features other than just the ability to use your webcam. The tool is built for online collaboration, so they’ll often come with computer audio (VoIP), screen share (more on this later), online chat, present document and more. There’s an art to preparing for video calls, very similar to how you would prepare for a face-to-face meeting. If used correctly they’re a brilliant tool for remote workers. Adding video to your online meetings helps humanise the conversation and you can often pick up on things like body language and facial expressions, something that’s difficult to get from a phone call (for obvious reasons).

See more on when to use video calls and how they enable flexibility.

What are webinars?

The best way to describe a webinar is to think of a large online event, where presenters are addressing a massive audience. Used by companies to provide valuable insights to their audience, for training purposes, to promote a new product and for many other reasons. They are a fantastic tool for generating leads as the platform allows you to use custom registration forms that your audience must fill out to view your webinar.

It’s a great platform to gather large amounts of feedback through features such as event surveys, interactive polls, and live Q&As. The idea of presenting to lots of people can strike fear in many but if set-up properly with clear objectives and enough preparation then there really is nothing to fear. Used properly you can positively impact how you are viewed by your audience and massively increase your customer pool (double win).

Start exploring

Investing in the latest tech is a crucial part of business success. These online meeting tools are a simple way to adapt to the modern working lifestyle, which is only seeing an increased number of people working flexibly and remotely. So, go on, have a gander and how they can help your business!

[1] https://www.owllabs.com/blog/video-conferencing-statistics

As a meeting solution provider, it’s fitting that we provide a meeting solutions 101, to help give you a better understanding of what we sell here. Gartner state that complete “meeting solutions enable richness of information and interaction by combining messaging, content and screen sharing, video and audio.”[1] We often refer to a product that includes all these features as an online meeting tool, which segues nicely into the next section.

What is an online meeting?

An online meeting tool is a solution that includes several features to help you smash collaboration out the park. This primarily includes HD video, computer audio (VoIP as it is known in the biz), screen share, document sharing and online chat. Any other features act as a nice cherry on top. They’re great when working remotely as your living/dining room suddenly becomes a meeting room.

How to run an online meeting

Luckily for us all, you don’t have to be a tech wizard to run an online meeting. The first thing is sharing your meeting invite with your Guests. When showtime comes around, start your meeting, and decide how you’d like to connect. We’d recommend using video, as it’s virtually face-to-face (get it?). If your internet connection is a bit shoddy or is playing up, then it might be best to dial-in via phone, as this is a more stable connection that’s not reliant on your broadband. Your Guests can still connect via video and computer audio.

When all awkward pleasantries are out the way, you can start making the most out of all the features on offer. Screen share and document share come in real handy when you want to showcase something of interest. You’re able to get instantaneous feedback, rather than wistfully wating for a response to an email you sent a week ago. Online chat is useful when you’ve got something to say but don’t want to interrupt the speaker, you can ask any questions or raise topics you’d like discussed. If the meeting is something you want to review in the future, then definitely record it. You can download the summary once the meeting has ended, super useful when it comes to reviewing what was discussed.

Online meeting etiquette

Just like most things in life, there’s an etiquette when it comes to online meetings. Most is common sense and reflects etiquette in real life meetings but some differ slightly. Let’s start with the most obvious shall we, avoid being late! Waiting for someone to get started can be irritating, particularly when you need to bring them up to speed. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and is an easy one to avoid. As a Host of the meeting, it’s best to try and arrive five minutes early if you can, this allows you to ensure all the tech is working as expected.

By failing to prepare (you know the rest). In a real life meeting you come prepared, same goes for an online one. To avoid any incoherent waffling make sure you know exactly what the meeting is about and what is going to be discussed. As the organiser of the meeting try to outline an agenda beforehand, giving no one an excuse to come ill prepared.

Make sure everyone is aware of who’s who in the meeting. Video should help with this but still if you’ve got people who have never met one another, then introduce them. No need to do a virtual handshake, could get weird. Set the tone right away by letting people know that their opinion and input is valued.

If a poor internet connection is detected in the meeting, then don’t be afraid to ask that person to turn off their webcam. Same goes for someone who sounds like they’re in a wind tunnel, ask them to mute themselves. You may even want everyone muted, apart from the speaker, to avoid any unnecessary distractions. You’ll also want to use a headset if you can, this will improve the audio clarity and prevent any annoying feedback issues. Point is, avoid interrupting and distracting others in your meeting, you wouldn’t do this face-to-face.

Creating a web meeting culture

With more and more of us wanting or needing to work flexibly, web meeting tech is here to stay. Investing in the latest tech and collaboration software is crucial to business growth and by using meeting solutions you aren’t restricting your talent pool based on location. Creating a culture where everyone is comfortable with online meetings is only going to be beneficial. It will lead to a more flexible and happier workforce with a healthier work-life balance.

[1] https://www.gartner.com/reviews/market/meeting-solutions

So here we are, living in a day and age where we are told that going outside could potentially soon be banned and is already banned in other countries. We’ve gone from taking our daily commute into the office, to rolling out of bed and taking a leisurely saunter to our living room, dining room, home office etc. The official guidance from the government is that all “employees should be encouraged to work from home, unless it’s impossible for them to do so”[1]. That means many of us who are used to working in offices are now fully fledged remote workers. Here at PowWowNow we’ve been harping on for years about remote working and its benefits, so it’s only right that we try to offer some guidance during this strange time we find ourselves in and help you crush working from home.

WFH tips and tricks

Working from home is very different to working in the office for various reasons. First and probably the most significant is that face-to-face interactions with your work buddies are non-existent. Second, depending on your household you could have more distractions at home (kids) or less. Third, a myriad of other reasons that can be tough to adjust to.

We put together some tips for working from home during the coronavirus crisis. They include trusting one another, consistent communication, welcoming your new routine and supporting one another. A recent survey found that one fifth of remote workers experience feelings of isolation and loneliness[2]. Where we find ourselves today, it is paramount to trust one another, check in on each other regularly and support each other if anyone ever needs a helping hand. This will not only help create a happier remote workforce, it will in turn keep productivity high!

Utilise tech

One of the biggest challenges many perceive when considering remote working is how on earth do dispersed team members collab? Well, there’s no excuse in this day and age (maybe shoddy broadband), modern tech has made it easier than ever for remote workers to communicate and work together. There’s a huge number of tech solutions out there. Instant messaging, project management tools, conference calling, video calls, calendar applications, you name it there’s probably a suitable solution out there. Check out our list of 5 tools that make working from home a breeze.

By utilising tech, you can ensure that you work together as one cohesive workforce, helping you crush working from home. Use tech to keep in touch with one another and provide regular updates. Don’t just take our word for it, according to a recent survey 75% of SME’s believe that investing in tech is crucial for growth in the coming years[3]. This is particularly apparent in today’s climate, where many businesses are relying on tech to communicate with one another daily.

Balance work and play

One negative associated with working from home is that it can be hard to switch off, due to your home becoming your office. A 2019 study found that 92% of people working from home answered emails out of work hours. For your mental wellbeing and to avoid burning out, it’ crucial to balance work with activities that you enjoy doing. The situation we find ourselves in is tough on everyone, so it’s a great time to reward yourself more than you usually would.

Being stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t socialise virtually, go on virtual art tours, participate in a virtual workout or just spend the evening watching Netflix with your pals.  Here is a list of 6 virtual events to get you through isolation. If 2020 teaches us anything it will be to appreciate the people around us and not to take the little things for granted (life lesson over).

Stay positive

We’ll eventually see an end to this, one day. We’ll be able to all gather around the coffee machine to discuss the weather again. We’ll face the eternal struggle of booking a free meeting room at the desired time again. There are many more office life tropes I could mention but you’ve probably got work to be getting on with. So, point is, try your best to stay positive and understand that this is only temporary. Support, trust and communicate with one another and we’ll all get through this! Continue to crush working from home!

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19

[2] https://www.gallup.com/workplace/268076/manage-loneliness-isolation-remote-workers.aspx

[3] https://www.uktech.news/news/uk-smes-prioritising-tech-tools-for-growth-20191120