Many people I know experienced an unsettling adjustment to a growing reality: working from home. As for me? I’ve spent the majority of my career working partially or fully from my couch, dining room table, or a desk squeezed into the corner of my bedroom.
Friends have asked me about my most important discovery from years of using my apartment as my office. Work from home productivity hacks? Scheduling breaks to move around or get fresh air?
By Stuart Luth
Actually, none of the above. My most impactful finding has been this:
Turn on your video.
At a couple of my earlier jobs, I had colleagues with whom I interacted daily, but only over email. I never spoke to them. I didn’t even know what they looked like. And as a result, even after years of collaboration, we barely had any connection. At other jobs, my coworkers and I would communicate over the phone, which was better—but still left something missing.
Video calls change that dynamic.
Sure, it can feel awkward if you’re not used to it. And yes, it means that you may have to change out of your pajamas. But the power of visually interacting with your clients, colleagues, or collocutors is immense.
Multiple studies have shown the importance of body language in communication; we know that it speaks louder than words. But connecting visually also allows us to better bond emotionally. It allows us to perceive parts of people’s personalities that get lost when we only hear their voice.
Flipping the video camera on lets more humor and authenticity to come through. In the best of times, it allows us to better enjoy our colleagues’ presence. And in difficult moments, it can help defuse tension and remind us that even with conflicting views and ideas, we are all working toward the same greater goal.
So the next time you’re tempted to hide behind a profile picture on a video call, consider that in the short term, being seen will help you be more engaging and allow your message to be stickier. And in the long term, connecting via video will allow your relationships to be more powerful allow you to showcase your strong communication skills.
Virtual communication skills might not come naturally to everyone, which is why we have developed the tools to aid you in communicating via the web. Discover our virtual instructor-led training programs that can be done from the comfort of your home office and will equip you with the resources and skills to be a better virtual communicator.