I’ve been part of Polycom’s HR team for over seven years now and I’ve realised that I rely on video to the extent that I don’t think I could do my job without it anymore. Video conferencing is at the heart of everything we do at Polycom, including in Human Resources.
Within the HR team, my role spans across EMEA, and many of my global colleagues have similar geographical challenges to overcome. Video conferencing allows us to have face-to-face time whenever and wherever we need to. As HR is a people focused business function, we never underestimate the importance of the improved communication you get from a video call. Audio alone just isn’t enough for remote working every day.
I’m a good example of how video helps a remote team build strong relationships. My previous manager was based in California. Despite the distance and time difference, I never felt disconnected because I was able to get to know her remotely. We could have a quick video chat at any time, and it didn’t matter if the issue was large or small because video conferencing is easy and efficient. Dialling in to a video meeting room (VMR), or video calling someone from your Lync directory can be done ad-hoc like a phone call, it doesn’t require scheduling and booking.
The same principle applies to the way we communicate with employees. In my experience, the fact that video is the main communications channel means employees can reach us for advice or help quickly. I would say that many employees feel like they know their HR team more closely than they would have in another organisation that did not use video. Employees can discuss their concerns face-to-face with me or my colleagues as soon as possible, instead of having to wait for weeks to get a meeting booked. Face-time is essential to maintain the healthy relationship between HR and the rest of the company, .... It helps us show sympathy and connect with employees much better than audio alone, particularly when discussing sensitive topics.
It is also a good tool for team building and development, which is at the core of what HR do within a business. I feel like I am part of the greater HR team, rather than just the UK HR team. It works both ways, as we can bring others into the team as well. There are some colleagues of mine who are the only HR professionals based in their country, yet it feels like they are here working right next door to me. The relationships that we can develop are deeper because we are constantly collaborating with each other in a natural way: we can put a face to a name. Things like ‘all hands’ meetings are efficient and easy to schedule, and the fact that it’s on video means no one talks over someone else’s contribution. Everyone gets chance to provide input and share their ideas. I believe it helps people feel recognised as valuable members of the team, and encourages even the quieter members to speak up.
Not only is video great for team building in general across Polycom, I would say that video allows us to perform our specific HR tasks better. For example, we do a lot of recruiting over video. Finding the right person and bringing talent on board is challenging for both the firm and the candidate. Video interviews mean that you save time without compromising the search process. It also means that we can widen the talent pool, as candidates don’t even have to be in the same country. Inductions are also conducted over video, meaning that the new candidate is ready to go in no time. Welcome meetings are easy to schedule starting on the first day, so the whole team can greet the latest joiner. There are some great tips on using video for HR in this eGuide.
At Polycom, developing talent is just as, if not more, important than acquiring it. Video conferencing plays a central part in this. If a training session can be done through video it will be. Attendance increases drastically, as there are fewer problems with busy schedules or flying costs. You can even train from home, and it doesn’t get much more convenient than that!
Flexibility is another key aspect that we wouldn’t be able to benefit as much from if we did not have video. At Polycom, we advocate flexible working for everyone because it is both good for the business and good for the employees. It is one of the most valuable benefits when it comes to retaining talent, and thanks to video conferencing we don’t compromise on performance either. The staff can join meetings from home just as easily as they could walk into a room if they were at the office.
All in all, I couldn’t think of a better way of doing my job. If I were part of a small regional HR team, say for the UK only instead of EMEA, I would have just met everyone in person. However, being part of the large organisation that is Polycom, I consider myself lucky to have the best tools at my disposal to connect with and help people wherever they are, whenever they need us.
To find out more about how video can help you meet the needs of your people, watch this great video from Sir Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School.
Anna Gamal is Senior HR Business Partner, EMEA, and is based at the Slough office near London, UK.