This blogpost will help us answer if Zoom is a collaboration tool. We will be sharing the various challenges employees face during remote work and how Zoom can help in workplace collaboration. Lastly, we will also be discussing the different factors of etiquette to follow while using Zoom.
Is Zoom a collaboration tool?
Yes, Zoom is indeed a collaboration tool. A collaboration tool is any piece of technology that helps improve interaction between people. Some examples are a chat app that lets several people generate new ideas or a video conferencing tool that allows people to talk face-to-face virtually.
It can also be a file-sharing application that allows quick access to information, a project management app that allows for better task management, etc. Zoom is one of the most attractive video-conferencing tools and has been the most commonly used one since COVID-19.
Challenges of Remote Work
A study in 2020 by Deloitte, showed that remote working is essential for business, not just as a response to the pandemic but also business continuity. There are many positives to remote work, ranging from better work-life balances and increased productivity. However, there are many challenges of remote work that employees have been struggling with since the start of the pandemic.
According to a 2019 State of Remote Work report by Buffer, the most common problem that employees face while working remotely is ‘unplugging after work’. 22% of the surveyed employees attested to this, while another 19% stated loneliness as their biggest issue.
A few challenges of remote working are as discussed as follows:
- Project management issues
Since employees and teams are spread out in different areas, communication becomes difficult. Managers have been finding it difficult to coordinate between the members and ensure they complete their individual tasks. Due to this, deadlines have been hard to meet.
- Problems in workplace collaboration
When lacking the right collaboration tool, teams are finding it difficult to interact and communicate. As a result, team-cohesion drops, motivation takes a hit and over all, productivity suffers.
- Problems in task management
Managers have been finding it hard to keep track of individual tasks as well as bigger ones at the same time. This becomes even more daunting in huge organizations where managers are in charge of very big teams.
- Working from different locations
Though everyone has come to terms with remote working and virtual workspaces, another difficult obstacle to cross is time-zone difference. In global companies, managers and team-members work in many different locations and to get a common time-slot for all of them can be quite difficult.
Another difficulty is the high chances of employees not paying attention, especially during an important virtual meeting.
- Not understanding diversity
With remote-working becoming a norm, companies have started to hire talent from all across the world. While this brings a lot of diversity and cultural richness to the team, it also brings many challenges. There can be language barriers as well as obstacles in the form of culture-related thought-patterns and behaviors and beliefs.
- Trust issues between the employees
Mutual trust is essential to good collaboration. But when there is improper communication, trust can take time to build. With global organizations, people may go years before meeting a team-member physically.
Due to this, trust would take more time to build than it would have if they had met sooner in real life. Because of a physical distance, maintaining trust and relationships that strong before can also become difficult.
- Decreased levels of productivity
While many employees have found that remote-working improves productivity for them, many have also found that it decreases theirs. They take longer to complete projects and even simple tasks start becoming challenging for them. For some it was because they were used to having colleagues and managers around all the time to ask for help and guidance.
Having to work alone may pose a problem for them. For others it was because of various reasons like not having a personal work-space, internet connectivity issues, family issues, personal reasons, etc.
- Working with too many distractions
Several remote-workers have stated that distractions at home are their biggest challenges. It becomes even more difficult for those who live in crowded homes with no space for a personal work-station. It also becomes challenging for those who need to take care of children or perform household tasks, in addition to work itself.
- Low levels of motivation
Many employees find remote-working demotivating. At home, there is no scope for social motivation or healthy competition. When there is no competition, motivation drops. It also is because of no supervision.
When employees have no supervision, they are not pressured to get tasks completed. When tasks are not completed, they ultimately lead to a decrease in performance and a drop in motivation.
- Not being able to unplug after work
This is the most common complaint by remote-workers. They feel they can never completely get-off work and this eats into their work-life balance. They also go through constant pressure and are never able to get a genuine break from their computers.
How to use Zoom for better workplace collaboration?
Now that we have seen the various challenges that remote-workers might face, let’s see how we can use Zoom as a collaboration tool in a more efficient way. Below are a few techniques:
- Provide the best sound and video quality you can
As much as possible, declutter your background and make it less distracting for your viewers. The messier your background is, the messier your video call will be. You can also use virtual backgrounds that may suit your need better.
Ensure you have a strong WiFi connection, and if not try to plug in a physical internet cable. This will ensure a smoother video call and better collaboration.
- Position your device properly
Your computer or device should be placed in a stable position. This will give your hands freedom and allow you to concentrate on the meeting better. It also gives your viewers a stable view of yourself rather than a wobbly dizzying effect.
- Adjust your position
Once you have adjusted your device properly, ensure you are positioned properly as well. Try to place the device in such a manner that your eye-level aligns with that of your viewers. Just like real life, it doesn’t present well when you are looking down or up at your team-members.
- Take care of lighting
The right lighting can do wonders for the viewer. Just ask photographers about it! Aim for soft lighting so that the contrast and shadows are balanced for a pleasing effect.
- Use hand gestures appropriately
Though only the upper-half of your body might be visible to the viewers, it is important that you use gestures to convey your message. Using the right gestures ensures a more natural manner of communication while also communicating right with those who are looking at you.
- Use Zoom Chat
While Zoom is usually used for video-conferencing, you can also use Zoom chat for real-time messaging. It is accessible through both mobile app and desktop, helping you collaborate with your team members, without a video call. You can use the chat to share text messages, voice notes, pictures, emojis, GIFs, etc.
What is Zoom etiquette?
Now that we have discussed the different ways we can use Zoom to improve workplace collaboration, we will now learn the proper etiquette while using Zoom. Etiquette is important in the workplace to uphold principles and values while making the environment professional and comfortable for everyone present.
While using Zoom, here are a few etiquette points you have to remember:
- Put your phone on silent mode
The biggest distraction we have today is our phones. And it comes across as blatantly rude while our phone notifications ping in the background when we are on a call. It also diverts attention and may lead you to lose our train of thought. The best thing you can do is to put your phone on a silent mode, or do-not-disturb mode or just mute it for the duration of the video call.
- Do not hog the mic
As the host of a meeting, or the leader in a video call, it is important that you lead your members through the session. But it is also important that you give others turns to speak up. Some of them may raise their hands or post comments in the chat, but some of them may not speak up at all.
It is easy to get distracted during a long video-call as there’s no physical presence. Asking people questions or opinions in between can improve the quality of your meeting while making everyone feel welcome as a part of the team.
- Everything else can wait
Unless it is an absolute emergency, it is important that you pay full attention during the call. You might miss out on important points that someone is bringing up. You might also put yourself out as disrespectful to the other members in the call.
- Inform before recording
Many Zoom calls are recorded for the sake of corporate policies on security. But it is important that everyone knows that the call is being recorded. This might incentivize members to participate more, show better professionalism while avoiding unproductive chatter.
Here, we have answered if Zoom is a collaboration tool. We have shared the various challenges employees face during remote work and how Zoom can help in workplace collaboration. Lastly, we have also discussed the different factors of etiquette to follow while using Zoom.
Frequently asked questions:
What type of collaboration tool is Zoom?
Zoom is a video-conferencing tool that is being used for collaboration. It can be used on a mobile device or a desktop, provided there’s a stable internet connection. This has proved to be useful especially after COVID-19 for remote-working.
How can you improve team-participation in Zoom?
Here are a few ways to increase team-participation while using Zoom:
- Using reactions to show your participation
- Using the raise-hand feature to ask questions or voice an opinion
- Recording the meeting for better understanding
- Noting the attendance to see who’s missing and who can be included in the future
- Changing your background according to the scenario for better engagement
- Ushering members into a waiting room
What are the negatives of using Zoom?
Though Zoom has found immense popularity and usage among organizations for digital collaboration, it still has several cons. Due to these cons, organizations have been switching to other video-chat platforms.
A few of the disadvantages of Zoom are given below:
- The app has to be downloaded
- Cloud file size tends to be inconsistent
- The standard quality of the video is not High Definition
- There is no method to control the comments
- There are also too many add-ons
- Zoom is a subscription-based service as compared to other free video-conferencing software
- The problem of zoombombing cannot be controlled, sometimes leading to disruptions and harassment.
Please let us know, if you have any comments or questions about the post.