Better Work from Home: Leveraging the Benefits of Video Calls

By James Dudt | Apr 14, 2020

Read Time: 2 minutes

Like many, I’m new to the work-from-home life. Most of the time, I’m either at the office or meeting with clients face-to-face.

All that has been turned upside down. Virtual meetings with both colleagues and clients are the new normal. I’ve been using video a lot for both one-on-one calls and group calls, and I’ve been surprised at how much of a difference video makes on group calls. Here are three reasons I’ve become a fan (and one thing I miss about being in the office).

Demonstrating attention

There’s no substitute for proximity, but using a camera really helps the conversation. We’ve all been on the voice-only conference calls where everyone is working on a side task most of the meeting, tuning in just for their part.

Not with video. People can see that I’m paying attention. They see that I’m not distracted by other things.

Shortening meetings

This attention also leads to an odd sense of intensity but that has led to a benefit – shorter meetings, because people aren’t distracted by other things.

Just like in a real meeting room, you can see when someone takes out their phone or is paying attention to something or someone else!

Nurturing community

One afternoon, our office had a virtual happy hour. Cameras on, let’s check in on each other. I told everyone to wear their favorite hat. Mine was a coonskin cap (sorry, no photo evidence available). Karpinski’s President, Jim Cicero, revealed that he has quite the ballcap collection, changing hats every couple minutes. We ended up hanging out for about half an hour, talking, laughing, and comparing drinks.

But missing the spontaneous moments to connect

One downside to being on camera or working remotely is that you don’t have those bits of leisure time for connection and conversation. You miss out on chatting about projects and ideas while the coffee is brewing.

I’m also missing having people walk into my office with questions, because so often it gives me the chance to spend a few minutes with them talking about what else they’re working on, asking what’s going on with their family, or just batting around ideas.

I’m looking forward to getting back to the office and seeing my colleagues in person. But until then, I’ll see you on video.

Dudt James Web

James Dudt
PE, LEED AP BD+C

James Dudt is a principal of Karpinski Engineering. He engages with clients through the lifecycle of a project, and he leads KE’s Pittsburgh team.
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