How to use video to engage overseas teams

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Project management is all about communication. A great project manager needs to keep in touch with stakeholders and their team to keep a project on time and budget. However, with larger, international projects with remote teams, it’s crucial that project managers understand how to effectively manage virtual teams.

While nothing can replace real human interactions, it is a digital world. As technology keeps progressing, video communications become more useful to keep that human touch.

Sonos: connecting teams through live feeds

Sonos is a consumer electronics company specialising in high-end smart speaker systems. Headquartered in Santa Barbara, they have offices in Boston, Seattle, Australia, China and Europe. By using video communications, Sonos has been able to connect remote workers in real time for more efficient collaboration on their projects.

“While audio conferencing can be a great option in a variety of situations, video communications has the added advantage of naturally engaging more attendees for a longer period of time,” says Daniel Creigh, head of UK and Ireland for Zoom Communications, which worked with Sonos to implement the video communications project. “Think of it this way: When you’re making eye contact with someone (especially a colleague), it’s much easier to resist the urge to start scrolling through social media.”

Sonos’s engineering teams often work in isolation and deal with difficult technical problems on their projects. It meant that when issues did arise, it was extremely difficult to get the team working together in a meaningful and efficient way.

Sonos installed very high-res overhead cameras into their project rooms to try to overcome this. All colleagues on the project and product teams had access to video feeds of offices across the world, so they could see what each project room was working on.

As a result, a colleague in Boston and a colleague in Santa Barbara can take a very close look at a certain component through the video link. They can then work collaboratively to fix the issue. Sonos now has over 170 ‘Zoom Rooms’ globally.

Picking up cues and sharing screens

Video communications also allows you to read subtle facial cues and body language that you wouldn’t pick up on with a telephone call. In a video conference, you can also screen share, switch between screens and change desktop control.

“With the challenge of differing time zones and locations, video communications demonstrate a competitive advantage as it can bring in or join various people from different locations for a common discussion which is highly beneficial for a project,” says Creigh. “Since effective project management is the hallmark of any organisation, it needs to meet the demands of the competitive market. In this 21st century workforce, industries must take advantage of technology to ensure success in projects and stay in budget.”

Projects require attention to coordination, and video communications can help this process by adding a human touch that emails and phone calls don’t have. What are some other techniques for managing virtual and international teams?

Brought to you by Project journal.

Image: Qualit Design/Shutterstock.com

Mark Rowland

Posted by Mark Rowland on 25th Nov 2019

About the Author

Mark Rowland is a senior writer on the Project editorial team. He has worked as a business journalist and editor for 15 years, and has won awards for his writing and editing. He has also worked in project and product management, overseeing the launch and continuous development of new websites and publications. Project is the official journal of the Association for Project Management (APM).

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