A 2020 slogan: “You’re on mute”

By Sophie Sadler, Account Manager

You only have to review the Google Trends stats to see that ‘Zoom quiz’ was one of the key search terms of the year, peaking in popularity in May, along with our apparent enthusiasm, with searches dwindling thereafter.

But whilst Zoom fatigue is a real thing, research from comms analytics specialist AppAnnie has shown how much video conferencing has become a leading mobile activity in 2020, with Zoom and Google Meet taking the fourth and seventh spots respectively in the list of top downloads this year. This is unsurprising given the massive shift to remote working. However, with promises of a widespread vaccination programme coming soon, how much of this technology can we expect to still be using next year?

Looking beyond the sleek aesthetics and myriad background choices offered by Zoom, Microsoft Teams, the all-encompassing messaging, conferencing and file-sharing software, has become a mainstay of many workplaces. Indeed, at Whiteoaks it was introduced in line with the first government mandate to work from home and has since been an invaluable tool in keeping connected with teammates, particularly for those quick questions and exchanges which would have previously been discussed across desks.

But will it, and its archrival Zoom, still have a place once we return to the office? For those adopting a hybrid approach to office/ remote working, video calls could remain a key part of the toolkit… or we could see a mass return to ye olde conference call.

Conference calling had previously done the job just fine when it came to groups of people in one location calling an external party, and without the dreaded “You’re on mute” or “Oh, I think your connection isn’t the best, could you repeat?”. A poor connection and the resulting rubbish video quality has proven to be this year’s biggest conversation killer, and so whilst the medium of the humble call has very much been dropped this year in favour of its shiny, more visual cousin, video conferencing, could a 2021 comeback be on the cards?

Before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s worth considering the value that video calls bring to the distributed workforce. Studies show that 93% of communication comes from nonverbal cues, with only 7% of what we mean actually expressed through words. We all know how easily even the most carefully worded email can be misconstrued, but video removes the grey area and potential for confusion.

Beyond this, in a year which has proven at times to feel isolating, video enables the closest thing to an in-person connection. At Whiteoaks, video calls have enabled us to celebrate the wins, share updates and take part in virtual events in a manner which is far more personal than an email or call. We’ve been able to ‘see’ and communicate with colleagues outside of our usual teams – and get a good nosey around everyone’s homes too! This has extended to our client relationships, allowing us to maintain those all important strong relations during a time when in-person strategy planning sessions and reviews are out of the question.

In short, video conferencing’s meteoric rise this year, whilst not without teething issues, is unlikely to be a flash in the pan. Don’t agree with me? I’d be happy to set up a Zoom to discuss…