Videoconferencing Lags in Developing Corporate Culture

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Since the coronavirus pandemic began, videoconferencing has taken off as a way to catch up with family and have drinks with friends, on top of collaborating with colleagues and staying in touch with teams. Apparently, however, webcams can only do so much: Workers say their corporate culture has taken a beating over the last several months.

Research by ratings and review firm Clutch found that nearly two-thirds of employees—63%—spend less time socializing with colleagues either in-person or online since businesses moved many employees to remote work.

Videoconferencing has taken off for meetings, but employees say corporate culture has taken a beating as more people work remotely. #HR #HRTech Click To Tweet

The reasons are obvious. “When working remotely, there’s not really the option to have a quick chat with your co-workers by the coffee machine,” said Sara Bandurian, HR coordinator at design agency Online Optimism, in a statement provided by Clutch.

While employers have provided greater access to communications tools since March, they’re failing to maintain the sense of comradery and cohesion they maintained before the virus appeared.

Collaboration Over Culture

For one thing, 35% of companies haven’t yet hosted any kind of virtual social event since the pandemic began, the report said. Only 13% of employees say their firm is holding virtual happy hours, while 9% say their office is hosting online activities and games. Barely 20% host professional development events, which mix social and business activities.

Clutch said one “bright spot” of the distributed workplace is greater availability of managers. Some 81% of workers reported their supervisors is as available, or more available, than they were before they began working remotely.

On the other hand, several workers we spoke with separately say the lines between work and personal time are blurring for managers. They’re finding that meetings are being scheduled outside of normal business hours, and sometimes they’re fielding calls at night or on weekends.

Springboard to Future of Work

A number of vendors are seeking to leverage the increased use of videoconferencing to increase their market penetration or generally enhance their product roadmap.

Microsoft, for example, has aggressively pushed the video-calling capabilities of Microsoft Teams as one way to gain new customers for a variety of its products. According to The Wall Street Journal, Teams hosted 75 million daily users in April, double its usage in March. Zoom, which counts users more broadly, saw 300 million daily users in April, up from 10 million at the end of 2019, the Journal said. Google Meet reportedly has about 100 million monthly users.

As Clutch’s research indicates, facilitating an effective workplace culture is about more than videoconferencing or collaboration technology. At project management software provider Workfront, the company’s culture was as critical as the tech stack when it came to in facilitating a successful transition to remote work, wrote Senior Vice President of People and Culture Laura Butler on Diginomica.

“Unless you have proactive plans for building trust and accountability within your workforce, and unless you have a robust digital infrastructure to tie individual effort to high-level business strategy, your tech solutions will only take you so far,” she said.

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