Zachary Yorke, a UX researcher at Google, explained why some feel that video calls are not the same as in-person conversations.
Health contingency measures have made more and more teams have to work remotely. This situation has increased the popularity of video conferencing services. Only in Latin American countries, Zoom has been among the most downloaded applications Play Store and Apple Store.
Although video calling is becoming a normal part of everyday life, many can’t help but feel that something is missing from that type of communication.
According to Zachary Yorke, a user experience (UX) researcher at Google, this feeling is not surprising and offered some data on the company’s blog which shows why so many people find it hard to get used to video calls and how to make them flow. more naturally.
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A matter of milliseconds
Yorke explained that, as a species, humans have invested around 70,000 years to learn to communicate face to face. This ability has made people fully adapted to the fast speed of face-to-face conversation.
In contrast, video conferencing is less than a hundred years old. And even less time being used by a large number of people. The problems that still exist in the implementation of this technology are evident. People can tell when the sound someone made came to a half-second late.
This ability has made humans used to speaking in turns and trying to minimize the seconds of silence between what one says and the other person responds. If it takes us more than 500 ms, either due to lag in the transmission or to enabling the sound in the microphone, everyone notices it. This represents more than double the time we are used to with the turn mechanics of conventional conversations.
Therefore, Yorke recommends trying to speak faster to avoid unwanted interruptions and, if you are in a small group, avoid muting the microphone to provide verbal cues, such as a ‘’ mmm ’’ or ‘’ okay ’’.
Small-talks increase team performance
In the office, meetings often begin with a small, impromptu, informal chat where personal information is shared that creates a better relationship and generates empathy.
Allowing time for personal conversations in remote meetings helps increase group cohesion and allows for better working together.
Scientific studies show that computers that share personal information periodically perform better than computers that don’t. And when leaders model this, it can further increase team performance.
Provides visual cues to keep the conversation flowing
If you are face to face with someone, you may notice that they leaned forward and invite you into the conversation. Or, you can glance askance at the audience while giving a presentation and pause to address a colleague’s confusion or skepticism. Research shows that in video calls where social cues are harder to watch, we take 25 percent fewer turns to talk.
But video calls have something email doesn’t: eye contact. We feel more comfortable talking when our listeners’ eyes are visible because we can read their emotions and attitudes. This is especially important when we need more certainty, such as when we meet a new team member or hear a complex idea.
Therefore, Yorke suggests avoiding opening browser tabs that compete for your attention.
The distance can increase team trust issues
When things go wrong, remote teams are more likely to blame people instead of examining the situation, hurting cohesion and performance. Different ways of working can be frustrating, but they are important. Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher has shown that we can take advantage of the “productive friction” of various work styles today, similar to how hunter-gatherers did 50,000 years ago to determine whether a newly discovered plant was poisonous, medicinal, or delicious.
Yorke advises having an open conversation with remote teammates about their preferred work styles and how they might complement each other.
Sharing the floor makes remote teams smarter.
Conversations on calls are less dynamic, and the proverbial “talk” is passed less frequently. It is a big problem for remote teams because sharing the floor more equitably is an important factor in making one group smarter than another. Computational social scientists like Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland and Anita Woolley have shown that the highest-performing groups are not made up of people with a higher IQ, but of people who are more sensitive to emotions and share the floor more equitable.
Identify calls where the dynamics of the conversation could be better. Encourage a more balanced conversation, help some listen to your voice, and remind others to pass the speech.