Making teleworking more humane.
Javier Justiniano Medina, .NET Developer in our team, has been teleworking for 8 years since he has been in organizations that are settled in different countries than the one he lives in. He used to work in a company in which they had audio-only virtual meetings before being part of Onetree. There was a semestral meeting in which there was a room with web cameras, people had them on for a while and then turned them off. Everything seemed okay and normal to him, he did not even have a web camera because he had a desktop computer. Later on, he entered Onetree, and after working on a project he was changed to another team in which his leader proposed the use of webcam during virtual meetings. They started to try to use it even though some were more reluctant than others. Javier, for his part, had a pleasant surprise working remotely this way because the communication was more personal, he could see gesticulation and simulate a more face-to-face interchange. Additionally, being a Bolivian person working in a Uruguayan company, this tool also helped him to get involved in the culture and blend with the rest of the team, for example by understanding Uruguayan sayings in an easier way. Overall, it changed how he communicated with clients, team members and therefore, on how he performed his work: “When working on a project, I could see through gestures, facial expressions and so on, what words left unsaid”, said Javier.
How does this impact on working with a client or getting on the same track when working with other team members in a process? What difference does it make on the way one performs their work? We propose to shift the course of the topics we always write about, only for this article, to explore these questions; the use of a tool that changes, not only how we execute our work and communicate with each other, but also how we connect with our clients, which overall affects the success of our projects. And all of this specially in today’s world.
In general, when proposing ideas or software modifications to clients, one receives more feedback from their facial expressions than their words. An “okay” as an answer is not the same whether it comes with a smile or a frown. From a commercial point of view, using the webcam allows us not only to have the certainty that we are not misinterpreting what the client is communicating, but also to understand their pain points, previous experience, current situation and their goals much better. The key of success in every project starts with understanding our client the best possible way; in that understanding we will base the solutions we will propose and the way we perform them.
In the developing team, by using this tool members interact with people they feel they know, which generates cohesion, since being able to see the other person’s face, gestures, and expressions enables them to connect on a higher level. Moreover, “…looking at the other colleagues’ faces generates more commitment” expresses Javier, “and the communication is more humane because there are very few people that can completely control their reaction and facial expressions”. Javier says there is a bad habit among developers when working remotely. When giving a presentation, they leave their camera on only during the part of the presentation they participated in. Once the camera is off, having the freedom of being unseen, one puts oneself comfortably and loses the focus on the presentation. Having to leave the camera on forces one to pay attention and get involved in the rest of the presentation, internalizing important knowledge that is then useful to develop because one understands the whole software process.
In addition to this, communicating with others, either co workers or clients, using the webcam saves time because non verbal language expresses much more than verbal language. This is why one can understand, for example, when someone is not entirely convinced with an idea or a solution by way of non verbal and verbal language in a faster and easier way than by verbal language only. According to studies, Dr. Mehrabian concluded that the interpretation of a message is 7% verbal, 38% vocal, and 55% visual. Therefore, 93% of communication is “nonverbal” in nature (Dustin Smith, 2020). Hand gestures, facial expressions, looks, and so on collaborate with what one says and help one perceive if the other person is nervous, satisfied, unsure, among others. Javier explains sometimes they have to delegate tasks they consider simple, and if the people they are delegating it to is in a more junior position, it may not be that simple to them. In these cases, it is much easier to see if the other person is understanding, getting nervous or a little lost. It is normal, when one is starting, to be afraid or shy to ask their doubts, especially when teleworking.
Using this tool helps Onetree be more Onetree. What does this mean? It means it makes it possible to materialize its values during teleworking, because it makes our communication with each other, with clients, participants of meetups and so on, more humane. It is easier to be a family and a team, which is what Onetree aims, while seeing our smiles, our frowns or worries in our faces and helping each other, than by being even more far than we already are when working remotely.
Smith, D. (2020, 12 enero). Nonverbal Communication: How Body Language & Nonverbal Cues Are Key. Recuperado 17 de febrero de 2021, de https://www.lifesize.com/en/communication-solutions/blog/speaking-without-words/
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