Polycom Employee



I still remember my first experience getting on a video conference meeting for a job interview; the anxiety of going through the interview, coupled with the nervousness of getting in front of a “live” camera for the first time can be pretty intense! While that was many years ago, and I’ve certainly gotten over feeling anxious in front of a camera, there are still many of us who have not had opportunities to experience being interviewed via video conferencing.


According to a survey conducted by Software Advice on “Applicant Preferences for Video Job Interviews”, more than 60% of hiring managers and recruiters now use video for their remote job interviewing needs. Of the 400 people surveyed, only 30% of respondents had completed two or more video interviews, and of this figure, just 2% of respondents had completed five or more video interviews. With hiring managers’ and recruiters’ increasing preference for video interviews, coupled with the globalised nature of many organisations, this can potentially be a stressful situation for a lot of applicants who have not had much experience with the technology.IMG_2467.JPG


This led me to wonder, when did technology become a fear factor? Shouldn’t job interviews be about the hiring managers and candidate getting a better understanding of each other and fulfilling the requirements for the role? Technology, such as video conferencing, should be an intuitive tool for remote job candidates, as easy as making a phone call, and should not be seen as an added layer of stress for an already nervous interviewee!


At Polycom, external candidates are provided the option to join a video interview via Polycom RealPresence CloudAXIS, where the only requirements are a laptop or PC with a mic and webcam. A meeting hyperlink is sent to the candidates directing them to the virtual meeting room, where it is as simple as clicking and connecting via the browser.


However, if you have received an invitation for an interview via a video conferencing platform you’ve not experienced before, here are some pointers to help figure out the technology prior to the interview:


  • Find out more about the platform/ software, and set your device up properly
    You don’t have to be a techie, but the least you should do is search online to check the capability of the device you’re taking the interview from. You can also ask the recruiter if there is an online guide that you can refer to set your device up. 
  • Request a trial run
    Don’t be shy about asking for a trial run! Recruiters would also like to ensure that the interviews happen without a glitch. Particularly when you are new to the platform, ask for a brief trial run with the recruiter. Also make sure that you test the device that you will be using, preferably from the same location you intend to take the interview from, for audio and video quality, volume, lighting and positioning. Ask the person helping you with the trial run for feedback on your video and voice quality, volume, and lighting. This is to make sure that the interview experience is true to life and “as good as being there”.

I hope these tips help with getting over some of the anxiety of a video interview, leaving you to focus on getting that job!


You can read more about how to prepare for a video interview in one of my previous blog posts.  


Happy interviewing and have fun!



Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.


Polycom Employee

As we enter a new year and organisations look to push forward with business objectives, it is also timely to discuss something a lot of HR functions will be thinking about – employee development and training programmes. I thought it would be nice to revisit one of my earlier topics on how video is helping transform the way we deliver training.


While most of us are familiar with the concept of a pre-recorded training videos, uploaded onto the intranet or a learning management system (LMS) for employees to access, advancements in technology now give us true-to-life high definition (HD) video for live training sessions. This allows trainers to create a live virtual classroom, delivering real-time interactive sessions, where multiple participants can join regardless of their location.


Training.jpgSome of the benefits live video training can bring are:

  • Cost-effective delivery to a larger and more geographically-dispersed audience 
  • Consistency in quality of delivery and content 
  • Real-time feedback and interaction, resulting in a higher level of engagement with participants compared to pre-recorded videos

Although a large part of the programme, especially the content, remains the same as that of a conventional programme; we have to acknowledge that delivering virtual training is a little different from conventional classroom training. Here are some pointers to take note of:


1. Understand the features of the video conferencing solution you’re using 


You will most likely want to share some content as part of the training session, such as a set of slides, images or video clips. The best videoconferencing solutions, allow content sharing with a click of a button.


The recording feature is another common tool that is very useful. Trainers often record the session to be shared with participants after the live training. This allows trainers and participants to recap what was covered at a later date enabling knowledge preservation within an organisation. The recorded session can also be made available for participants who couldn’t attend the session.


2. Participants’ profiles


Prior to any training sessions, trainers would prepare by getting an understanding of the participants profile. This is the same when conducting a virtual training.


However, it would be useful to take it a step further by getting more information about your participants as follows:


  • Language ability: it is useful to know if the participants would potentially have an issue with the language in which the training is conducted in. Given that geographic locations are no longer a constraint, you may have participants joining from different countries with different native languages. Understanding this will allow you to better manage the session
  • Physical location in which the participants are joining the session from: depending on the type of training and activities, you may want to set some parameters around how the participants join the session. If the session requires participants to be involved in activities that require physical contact/ interaction, it might be good to link a few remote classrooms and have a local facilitator in each of the remote sites. For example, this can be used for product training, where physical contact with the product is required. The trainer can be delivering the content with the help of local facilitators. Otherwise, the session can be open and conducted like a webinar, where participants can join from any location of their choice
  • Devices that the participants are joining the session from: participants can join the session from different devices, such as from a meeting room-based system, desktop, mobile or via a browser-based cloud solution. We need to be aware of different screen sizes, especially when any participants are joining via a mobile device. Thus, if you are delivering a presentation-heavy session with a lot of content sharing, you might want to pace your session allowing participants joining via the mobile devices time to zoom in and review the shared content

3. Ground rules and etiquette


Running live virtual training is very similar to any other training programmes – it is very important to setup the ground rules. On top of that, we need to be mindful that the session is taking place in a virtual classroom via videoconferencing, so proper video etiquette should be observed. You can read more on video etiquette here.


Happy training! 



Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.



Polycom Employee

During a recent discussion I had on flexible work arrangements, the question of “How to identify candidates that can work flexibly?” came up. It was a genuine question as the employer’s intention was to look for those one or two traits that a candidate should possess which would help foster a culture of flexibility in the organisation.


Flexible work arrangement


However, I felt that we might be stereotyping candidates by trying to look out for certain traits. In recruitment, we like to hire the best talent for the job; thus, flexible working should be a choice that the employee can exercise. It is well known that teleworking increases staff retention and helps to attract new talent, while for employees, the freedom of controlling their working day and environment reduces the desire to seek employment elsewhere.


Different employees would have different needs when it comes to planning their work day. The real question should be how, as an employer you can help your employees, particularly new hires integrate work-life balance through your organisation’s flexible work arrangements.


Personally, I’ve hired employees from companies without a flexible work culture and I’ve not encountered difficulties in helping them assimilate into a flexi-work environment. To do the same, here are the top tips you can follow:


1. Start early. Candidates usually have to go through multiple rounds of interviews, and in my experience, we use technology early in the recruitment process – from first screening through to final interviews. A successful flexi-work candidate will demonstrate a level of comfort or willingness to adopt technology, and by offering a number of ways to join an interview, the experience can be a seamless and un-daunting one. Some of these options include joining a meeting from home via a cloud-based solution such as Polycom RealPresence CloudAXIS. If the candidate instead comes to the office for an interview, we would then schedule back-to-back meetings with other interviewers who may be based in other regions. In this case, candidates will experience taking a video conference from one of our meeting rooms equipped with a room solution such as the Polycom Group Series.

2. Hands on experience. For every new hire we make, they are equipped with technology solutions for video, voice, and content collaboration. As part of their orientation, they are shown how to use solutions such as Polycom RealPresence Desktop and RealPresence Mobile, and how to have this setup to work from home or on the go. As part of a global organisation, new candidates will also meet their regional counterparts via video within the first two weeks of joining. This is the perfect opportunity for them to get some practice and hands on experience with collaboration technology, and become comfortable with meeting face-to-face with colleagues across any distance.


3. Home setup and video etiquette. There is one major factor that we need to be mindful of – not everyone’s home is “video friendly” and this could be the first time your employee is using video conferencing technology. The key to flexi-working is to make it really “just like being there”, and as with any face-to-face meeting, proper etiquette needs to be followed. Help your employees set up and frame their view, so they are visible and there are no distractions in the background at home. Considerations such as lighting and audio levels also come into play, as do on-screen body language and showing up promptly to a meeting. You can read one of my previous blog posts for more on video etiquette.


In conclusion, a flexible working culture should enable and empower employees to be equally or even more productive than an employee in the office. With advances in technology, meeting and collaboration experiences are rapidly changing to make flexible working a way of life, keeping employees connected and productive no matter where they are.


Would you like to know more about flexible working?

Find out why flexibility is the key to a changing workforce. In another blog post, I have also discussed how I manage my time with a flexible work arrangement.


Happy flexible hiring!



Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.


Polycom Employee

You've been hearing a lot of talk around flexible work arrangements, and the benefits it brings. You feel that you yourself could benefit from having some flexibility in managing your work schedule, but don't know how to go about doing this.


It all seems too difficult as everyone around you appears to be "conforming" to the norm of a standard work schedule. There are some watercooler talks among your colleagues that all this discussion around flexible work arrangements is too ideal, and will not work in your organisation where mindsets are too traditional to change.


Does that all sound familiar?


Given such circumstances, how would you go about asking your manager for a "Flexible work arrangement"?




Here are some simple steps and tips you may find useful to help you ask that million dollar question:


1) Understand the "fear" managers have


In my interaction with employers and people managers, I observe the idea of a "Flexible work arrangement" to them can be a scary one. This, I believe, is because we've been emphasising one extreme of flexible work where employees work from home most of the time and rarely come into the office. Managers who are not used to such working with such arrangements get worried about various things that could go wrong. This is instinctive as these managers are moving away from their comfort zone.


Thus, before you pop the question, ask yourself the following questions:

- What do I really need?

- Do I really need to work from home 80 per cent of the time, or do I just need minor adjustments and added flexibility in my work schedule and location?

- What sort of concerns would my manager have about members of the team remote working?


2) What do you need?


Chances are you may not need to be working from home every day of the week. After all, it is also healthy to maintain a certain level of social interaction with your colleagues. Employees I talk to value the flexibility to plan a work schedule that optimises their time, allowing them maximum flexibility. A lot of the requests for flexible working are simply to have the ability to manage the time they start and end work in the office (or even the time they take breaks). Many of them shared how they could avoid the traffic and crowds just by nudging their daily work schedule by a little. 


A lot of my colleagues at Polycom attend their early morning meetings from home over video thanks to our desktop and mobile videoconferencing software solutions. After which, they might continue to put in another hour or so before heading into the office. This way, they spend less time on the road and avoid the morning rush hour traffic and peak time on public transport.


Before you approach your manager asking for a flexible work arrangement, ask yourself the following questions:


- What is that one change that you would like which will improve your personal efficiency?

- If what you’re looking for is too much a change, is there a smaller step you can take?

- How will your greater personal efficiency enhance the productivity of your team? How can you make the benefits of a flexible work arrangement a “no-brainer” for your manager to consider?


3) Identify your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)


One common fear both managers and employees have is the perceived drop in productivity when an employee has a flexible work arrangement. This is often not the case, as many of our employees experience productivity gains resulting from an optimised work schedule.


However, we do need to acknowledge that if you and/or your manager are doing this for the first time, it is good to make sure that you cover all the angles and plan this well. It is very important to agree on what contributes to good performance on your part. Basically, this can be a case of revisiting and reaffirming the deliverables that your manager expects of you.


Many companies have an in-house system and process for managing this. It can be part of your annual or bi-annual performance management cycle.


Adopting a flexible work arrangement shouldn’t have a negative impact on your KPIs. Regardless, it is always good practice to have a conversation with your manager about your KPIs and their expectations; thus, leaving nothing to assumption.


4) Make use of technology


Collaboration solutions have come a long way since teleconferencing innovation in the late 80s and 90s. My colleague Marc-Alexis Remond details more about this evolution in this blog entry: "The Conference Room is Dead…Long live Collaborative Environments!" Today’s range of secure, HD videoconferencing and content management tools for use in any circumstances, have changed the game.


Many organisations I speak to have already invested in some form of video collaboration solution, which you and your manager could already be familiar with. For example, you might have access to video collaboration software such as the Polycom RealPresence Desktop or Polycom RealPresence Mobile which allows you and your colleagues to dial into a high quality virtual meeting room no matter where you all are. It is also useful to know that your colleagues could also join in the same meeting from a physical meeting room at the office or even from their office desk via dedicated videoconferencing hardware or software.


This allows you to defy distance and still be able to “meet” your colleagues over quality high definition video, with the ability for all participants to share and view meeting content such as presentations, documents and graphics.


There are many technology solutions that can help enable collaboration among your team, wherever and whenever. This includes sharing calendars in programmes like Outlook, instant messaging and even simply the use of mobile phones. Talk to your IT folks to get an idea of what’s available and how you can leverage technology to work flexibly.


5) Set up a trial run


Last but not least, set up a trial run. You can first pick a particular day or week to try out the arrangement, and then slowly increase it to the level that you’ve agreed with your manager. Start small, and fine tune the arrangement along the way.


However, keep in mind that sometimes we might be too quick to jump to a conclusion on whether an arrangement is working or not. Thus, it is important to keep an open and objective mind when evaluating if an arrangement is working for both parties.


Don’t be too quick to give up. If you don’t get it right the first time, revisit some of the parameters of the arrangement and try again.


Further reading


Find out how I manage my time with a flexible work arrangement in one of my previous blog posts: “How to manage your time with a flexible work arrangement”.


If you'd like to know more about the best tools to help you enable flexibility in your workforce, check out this overview of the solutions that let people work from anywhere and actually engage more effectively and efficiently as a result.


Read my other blog posts on better workplace collaboration here.


Happy Flexible Working!




Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.

Polycom Employee

As I read about Wei Leng’s article on “Balancing family emergencies with the demands of work”, I couldn’t help but reflect on my personal flexible work experience with Polycom and how video collaboration directly enables this.


As a parent to two young children of my own (Isaac is four years old, and Audrey is just six weeks old!), the act of balancing work and home commitments is something that I can relate to. It’s never easy to balance and integrate work and family commitments. However, with today’s video conferencing and unified communications technology, it is now possible to make work-life harmony a reality.


In the lead up to the birth of my second child, I decided to change my working schedule to work approximately 70-80 per cent of the time from home over the next few months, coming into the office generally for two afternoons a week. This was to allow me to be around my wife and our new born baby much more in the early days and while she’s on maternity leave.


It helped that Polycom has a very strong culture of work flexibility, coupled with the fact that everyone is equipped with a laptop installed with the necessary collaboration tools such as Polycom RealPresence Desktop allowing us to work from anywhere with an internet connection. Perhaps most importantly, my manager was very supportive of this arrangement and I started working regularly from home about two months ago now.


It has been a very successful way of working and my productivity and efficiency has certainly increased. Having the right tools and technology is vital, but the one thing I’ve learnt moving from a traditional “office work arrangement” to a “flexible working arrangement” is the importance of effective management of your daily schedule.


Here’s how I did it:


First, I cleaned up my Outlook calendar, and set up a basic weekly schedule template:


Flexi-work calendar.jpg


In this template, I entered my routine meetings, work schedule and personal time, thus blocking out the slots that I need to commit to work or family. Although the day runs from 7am to 12 midnight, I made sure that I set aside time for myself. For example:


  • Morning 8am to 9:30am – Breakfast with my family. This is where I get to play and help with the feeding of my baby.
  • Afternoon 11:30am to 12:30pm – Lunch (with family or friends). This was setup for 11:30am so I get to avoid the lunch crowd, and I’m usually hungry by this time! After lunch, I would be back at my work around 12:30pm.
  • Evening 5pm to 9pm – I would leave my home at around 5pm to pick my son up from school. I’m very particular about my evenings, as this is the time where I like to spend quality time with my boy.

You would also notice that I’ve set up time at night (between 9pm to 11pm) to clear my mails and reports. I find that this is very useful as there is less disruption and I can get the most out of my time. 


I normally end my day at 11pm, but would still accept meetings if it happens before 12 midnight. (Notice that I blocked out the slots after 5pm. This is so I get to decide if I want to take the meeting or not.) Unless it is absolutely urgent, Friday evenings are strictly a no meeting time for me, as are meetings with international colleagues after midnight


After blocking out the routine events on my calendar, the rest of the slots get filled up relatively quickly. Here’s what one of my week looks like:


Flexi-work calendar Eric Wong example.jpg 


You probably notice that not everything goes as planned. There are instances that I need to move my personal “commitments”, such as the off-site conference I had to attend on the Friday.


Having a well-planned routine and communicating this to my team and colleagues has helped me get the most out of my time. My calendar is available as a shared calendar allowing my colleagues visibility of my availability, which makes working together in a virtual environment possible.


As a dad and a working professional, I’ve benefited from a flexible work arrangement and am enjoying both work and the joy of kids and family.


I am also proud to be working with one of the best employers for parents in Singapore, as Polycom recently won the “Most Enabling Companies for Dads” award jointly organised by the Singapore National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Women’s Development Secretariat (WDS) and the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP). Read more about that here.


If you'd like to know more about the best tools to help you enable flexibility in your workforce, check out this overview of the solutions that let people work from anywhere and actually engage more effectively and efficiently as a result.




Polycom Award.jpg

Pictured left to right with Polycom's "Most Enabling Companies for Dads" award: Mrs Roslyn Ten, General Manager, Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices; Sue Day, Senior Director, Marketing, Polycom Asia Pacific; Isaac Wong (front); Eric Wong, Head of Talent Acquisition and Development, Polycom Asia Pacific; Ms Cham Hui Fong, Assistant Secretary General NTUC




Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.

Polycom Employee

Recently, I shared some tips on how candidates can prepare for a job interview over videoconferencing and I received some positive feedback from candidates that the tips did come in handy! So, I thought it would be good to share some further tips, but this time from the perspective of the interviewer.


There is plenty of guidance out there on general job interviewing and most experienced interviewers will have their own established and unique technique, which works best for them. But with the growing adoption of videoconferencing to conduct interviews, allow me to add to your list of considerations when preparing.


1)  Set the agenda


It is very easy to get carried away during an interview, causing the interview to overrun. This is more so when interviewing candidates who are new to interviewing over video. This might be their first experience of such a scenario.


To get around this, it is advisable to set the agenda at the start of the interview. This allows the interviewer to cover as much as possible in the allocated time. Also, the action of setting up an agenda encourages the interviewer make a list (if that’s not already been defined) of criteria he or she is looking for in the candidate.


An example of an agenda is as follows:


  • Introduction and quick ice-break (5 mins)
  • Revisit some of the questions the candidate may have from his/her last interview (assuming that this is not the first interview that the candidate is having) (5 mins)
  • Assessing the candidate based on the criteria for the role:

       -  Criteria 1 (Example: Business Acumen) (15 mins)

       -  Criteria 2 (Example: Functional Expertise) (15 mins)

       -  Criteria 3 (Example: People Management and Core Values) (15 mins)


  • Questions from candidate (10 mins)


It is perfectly fine to share with the candidate the agenda “as is”. Remember, this is an interview not a debate or interrogation. What you’re looking for is a rich discussion allowing you to gain insights into this candidate, and sell the job and the company to them in the process.


Thus, being clear about the interview agenda upfront will help facilitate that discussion.


2)  Introduction (Self and Panel)


Many of us overlook the importance of a good introduction. I am not suggesting that a lengthy introduction is a good one either.


When you are meeting someone over video for the first time, and having to rely on what you see on screen to judge body language, it is important that we take the effort to make sure that we create the right first-impressions. Treat an introduction over video like you would in a traditional meeting where you are in the same room.


Even if you’re very well known in the industry, nothing beats a good concise introduction of who you are and what you do in the organisation. Also, it is always good practice to share with the candidate how your role interacts with the role which the candidate is interviewing for.


Usually, the candidate would be meeting more than one person from the company. If you are the first interviewer, it is useful to make sure that the candidate has a brief idea of whom they will be meeting over the course of the interview process and whether this will be over video or in person. You don’t have to go into too much detail on who and what each of the interviewer on the panel does, so an outline introduction would do. This way, the candidate can plan and allocate the right questions to the right interviewer accordingly.


3)  Bridging the language barrier


The majority of video interviews are conducted with candidates based in a different geographic region. As such, there could be a possibility that language might be a barrier to a free flowing discussion.


It can get very frustrating to have to find a translator at the last minute, and this will almost certainly render the interview session useless.


Unless strong bi-language proficiency is required for the role, many regional interviewers make the mistake of marking candidates down for poor language abilities when they are assessing the candidate for a local role.


Yes, the candidates may need to interact with the regional team, thus the requirement for the language. However, we need to also be realistic that this could contribute to a small part of the role; when most of the time, the candidate may not be required to speak the language of the regional team. Thus, the additional language proficiency requirement may drastically reduce the candidate pool.


To minimise such issues, it is recommended to have the local interviewers conduct the first rounds of interviews. Depending on the language capabilities of the candidates, one of the local interviewers can sit in as an interpreter and partner the regional senior interviewer who is connecting over video. This can help bridge the language barrier.


In this scenario it is also helpful to provide the candidate with a list of questions you intend to cover prior to the interview for the candidate to prepare. I would normally structure this in the form of a short presentation on a topic the candidate can present on.


4)  Presentation


The use of a presentation can help enhance the richness of the discussion over video. This is especially useful for candidates to illustrate and show content visually rather than just trying to articulate verbally.


Most video conference room solutions, including Polycom’s RealPresence Group Series and virtual desktop software solutions like RealPresence CloudAXIS, allow meeting participants to easily share content. Candidates can simply display their own content during the meeting for all participants to see – be that a presentation, a document, a web page or a video.


However, not all videoconferencing solutions are the same. If the video conference solution that you are using does not support content sharing, do get the candidate to send you their presentation prior to the interview.


5)  Recording


Recording an interview can save interviewers a lot of time when making a final decision on candidates. This is especially when you’ve got very strong finalists and different opinions among the panel. This is where a videoconferencing solution with a recording function and content management system for your organisation offers a tremendous advantage.


Interviewers are only human, and your memory could be sketchy after interviewing numerous candidates. Also, we sometimes miss out on taking down notes throughout the entire interview process, especially when we get carried away with the discussion. The ability to revisit some of these recorded interviews to validate the assessments can save you the time and effort in making candidates go through that extra interview.


Just remember: do tell the interviewee before you begin that you wish to record the session. But explain, as above, why you wish to do this so that they feel completely relaxed.


6)  Interviewing from anywhere


Interviews have to be arranged to match the availability of both the candidates and the interviewer(s). Therefore, having the flexibility to conduct an interview from home or another remote location to the office enables the interviewer to be more efficient with the process. This can speed up time to hire, thus contributing to improved company productivity.


Mobile and desktop videoconferencing solutions such as RealPresence Mobile and RealPresence Desktop can allow you to conduct interviews regardless of your location. For example, you can easily fire up the same enterprise grade videoconferencing software on an Apple or Android tablet and run an interview from home after office hours.


Make sure that you have a reliable internet connection, remember your tablet or laptop power supply, and always find a suitable, professional location to conduct the interview from.


7)  Video Etiquette


Finally, as much as we are assessing the candidate, we mustn’t forget that we are representing the company and to create the right professional impression.


Always check your background and lighting (especially if you are conducting the interview via video from your home office) to make sure that your background is not messy.


Also, dress appropriately. Although you are the interviewer and you may be joining the meeting over video from home, your candidate is most likely all dressed up. It is only polite not to also be smartly dressed, just as you would be in person.


I cannot emphasis enough the importance of good “video etiquette”, as candidates curious about the culture of your organisation will take every possible chance to learn more. Thus, that first impression works both ways. Do read more about “Good Video Etiquette” in one my previous articles:  http://community.polycom.com/t5/The-View-from-APAC/My-2014-New-Year-resolution-Better-Video-Etiquett...


Happy interviewing and good hiring.



Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.


Polycom Employee

As the world counts down the days to football’s largest event (or “soccer” to those of you in America!) companies around the world may well worry about the impact and loss of productivity brought about by the event.



 Image: http://www.paktvfun.com/2014/04/07/fifa-world-cup-2014-brazil-matches-schedule-and-timings/



So, what are HR and managers going to do about it?


Depending on which part of the world you reside in, the “live” telecasts of the matches could prove to be a major distraction to work, life and everything else.


Out of curiosity, I had a peek at the fixtures. It looks like the countries in the GMT to +2 GMT time zones would have the least disruption to their work life! Most matches kick off at around 7pm and 10pm local time in Europe and Africa, thus allowing viewers to catch these matches after dinner and have a good night’s sleep before work the next day. That is unless the results create a certain level of “emotional impact” where viewers are unable to carry on with their normal life. However, that’s a different topic!


Having said that, there are matches that have early or late kick-offs at 4pm and 1am respectively. Now, that should cause some concern!


For the rest of the world (in all the other time zones), these matches will definitely cause disruption to either work or rest.


Surveys have been conducted predicting a loss in productivity. In this particular survey targeted at the Singapore workforce (+8 GMT time zone), as many as 40% of viewers said they intend to stay up to watch the matches before going to work.


It doesn’t take a doctor to tell you that if you’re not getting enough rest, you’re more likely to fall sick. Thus, you should expect increased absenteeism with the workforce.


So, back to the question: “What is HR going to do about it?”


Most of us would have policies in place to deal with behavioural issues and misconduct. However, such absenteeism can fall into the “grey” area. What’s more, it’s probably once every four years you get to deal with this.


Is “flexibility” the answer to this question then?


I tend to lean towards a big “YES”.


For companies who have got a “culture of flexibility” already in place, they would find it easier to deal with the “issue”.


Their employees are very used to working with collaboration tools such as:


  • A shared calendar – where one can visibly block out the hours when you need to catch up on rest or when you will be away enjoying the match
  • A videoconferencing platform – so you can easily join a meeting – be that at the office, at home, or on the move – and ensure you and your team are able to share content and see each other face-to-face, just as you would in a regular meeting in the workplace environment
  • Integrated unified collaboration solutions – for example, Microsoft Lync, so your co-workers can see whether you are online at any given time and communicate with you instantly wherever you are


While this blog entry is written in a light-hearted manner with a bit of humour thrown in, the issue with absenteeism and productivity during large, popular events such as the World Cup is very real.


Many organisations are starting to realise that by taking a hard stance and enforcing strict rules and regulation in attempt to control the situation may not be the way to go. Human beings are creative! There is more than one way to get around the rules. Employees can simply apply for sick leave, and there is little organisations can do about it.


Thus, the smarter approach would be to take this opportunity to engage employees through fun activities. I know of a company that showed a few key live games in the office during one of the past World Cup tournaments. It was a late night match; the employees brought snacks and the atmosphere was fantastic.


Through a simple activity, this organisation managed to create an informal “team building” activity, allowing employees to bond. The employees were allowed to rest and work from home the next day, on condition that work was done. The overall productivity went up as these employees felt the need to put in a little bit extra to make up for the “perks”.


I like this story and had shared this on a couple occasions. The key to making it happen was simply “flexibility at work”.


If you want to find out more about the benefits of video collaboration to HR and people management, you can download this paper and read my previous blog posts.


Happy viewing and may the best team win!






Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.


Polycom Employee

In a recent video discussion (that you can view below) I talked about flexible working within an organisation and why that’s important to today’s workforce.


Much is now said about the need for flexibility at work and how this benefits the employer by keeping employees engaged. Why is this the case today? And, why wasn’t this such a popular view ten or twenty years ago? What has changed?


Along with many of my fellow HR practitioners, we’ve all come to realise that changes in the workforce are something that we cannot ignore. Thus, it is very important that HR practices and management stay on top of trends and staff expectations, and evolve with time.



Gen X vs. Gen Y vs. Gen Z

This discussion has been going on for decades. The traits that each generation introduces to the organisation will eventually alter the DNA of that organisation, which in time drives evolution. Today, a lot more focus has been placed on work-life integration by the younger generation, where employees strive to balance professional work with their personal life.


Global connectivity resulting in round the clock working and increased workforce mobility

As companies are becoming more and more global, “official work hours” are fast becoming irrelevant. Employees are finding that they need to work across different regions and time zones, which sometimes results in the need to attend meetings during out of office hours. Compensating employees for these extra hours at work is a complicated process. Tracking an employee’s time at work is not only inefficient, but also signals a sign of distrust.


Medical advancement leading to longer life expectancy

Whilst this is a good thing, many countries are seeing increased challenges to provide adequate infrastructure for the aged. Thus, the ability for employees to plan their work flexibly, to provide necessary care support to loved ones, is vital. Flexible working arrangements allow employees to balance their work life, whilst keeping their productivity levels and engagement with their employer high.


Availability of technology

Technology has played a big part in making flexibility at work possible. For example, companies these days are able to deploy high quality and cost effective video conferencing solutions that help defy distance and bring teams closer together. Employees these days can also jump onto a HD video conference meeting right from their laptop, or even through their tablet or smartphone devices, using RealPresence Desktop or RealPresence Mobile. This makes joining a meeting from anywhere away from the office a breeze.


Thus, “flexibility” is here to stay, and it is definitely part of the changing workforce. Learning how to leverage technology, adapt and manage a flexible workforce could be the key to bringing out the most in your employees.


As always, do feel free to comment or drop me a note if you have any interesting tips of your own to share.


If you'd like to know more about the best tools to help you enable flexibility in your workforce you can start at this page to find out more about Polycom’s RealPresence Desktop and RealPresence Mobile solutions.





Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.


Polycom Employee

In our recent press release “HR Professionals Expect Video Conferencing to be Their Preferred Communications Tool in 2016”, we talked about the move toward video and its advantages for talent management, staffing, training, productivity and flexible work arrangements (read more about it here).


A 2013 survey quoted in this story found that 32 per cent of organisations were now investing in video interviewing, compared to 21 per cent in 2012. The key reasons for this were:


   -  To reduce travel costs
   -  To shorten the time to hire
   -  To reach geographically dispersed candidates


As videoconferencing becomes a common feature in more companies, one would now expect to have to participate in an interview over video at some point in their job search.


As much as we like to think that a video interview is the same as a “face-to-face” interview, there are subtle differences, which any savvy job seeker should make a note of.


1)  Get the timing right


If you are being interviewed over video, chances are the interviewer is in a different geographical location. As such, to be on the safe side, ask for details on where the interviewer is located and double check the time of interview. If it’s a long distance interview, you never know if someone’s made a mistake on converting the time across different time zones, especially when there’s a switch for daylight saving.


2)  Learn the equipment


Most video conference room solutions like Polycom’s RealPresence Group Series and software solutions like RealPresence CloudAXIS are intuitive and easy to use. However, don’t assume that all video conference solutions are made the same!


“Murphy’s Law”: don’t leave anything to chance! You should make sure you know where the volume and mic controls are. It’s also a good idea to have the details to hand to reconnect the call if it ever disconnects or if you need to move room or location for some reason.


If you are already confident using videoconferencing you can take advantage of the further features it offers. For example, if you wish to share a presentation or some other on-screen content with the remote interviewer, request to have access to the meeting room at least 15 minutes earlier to learn how to share content. If you are being interviewed by using a webcam on your own desktop, ask for guidance prior to the interview on how to do this. Personally, I like to use content sharing to illustrate my points visually. Thus, this is a very useful feature to learn.


Lastly, if you are in a meeting room, identify where the camera is located. In a well set up room solution, the camera is placed at eye level, allowing “natural eye contact”. Don’t take for granted that all rooms are set up with the same standard. If you noticed that the camera is set up in a way that doesn’t allow natural eye contact, make a point to look into the camera from time to time. This allows the interviewer on the other side to receive eye contact, thus eliminating the awkward feeling of not being able to “look” at each other when you’re talking.


3)  “Emergency contact”


Prior to your interview have the name and contact number of your recruiter or HR executive to hand. Most video interviews are conducted 1-on-1 where the candidate is left alone in the room. Thus, just in case (for whatever reason), make sure you know how to get some assistance if required.


4)  Check yourself on the screen


All video conference solutions come with the feature to see you on screen. Always make sure that you adjust your camera so that you are well framed. I would recommend framing yourself in a way where you are showing your hands.


As you will likely be taking notes throughout the interview, you don’t want to give the interviewer the impression that you are “doing something else” as they can’t see your hands.


5)  If you are taking the call from home, note the following:


Check your connection and equipment before the call. Clean up the clutter in the background, and check your lighting. And lastly, make sure you’re appropriately attired even if you’re taking the interview from home. You can refer to my previous blog entry on “Better Video Etiquette” for more tips.


Happy interviewing!





Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.


Polycom Employee

In my last post, ‘Advice for managing a remote team’, I shared some tips on how to manage a geographically dispersed team.


Apart from making sure that we do a good job with communicating to the team, “performance management” is another key component, which plays a critical role in getting the best out of your remote employees.


Most companies will have a performance management framework in place, and if we look at the generic components, it should include:


  • Defining the goals
  • Communicating the goals
  • Milestones
  • Assessment from managers
  • Self-assessment from employees
  • Performance ratings and evaluation


In this post, I would like to focus on how this process can be managed effectively across a remote team.


1)    Define your (personal) goals and your team’s goals clearly

As shown in the illustration below, it is always helpful for you to communicate your goals to your employees. Also, help them to understand how their goals are derived from yours.

If you were managing a remote team, you would want to be as detailed as possible. This will empower your remote employees, allowing them a certain level of autonomy while keeping that alignment to what you want to achieve.


Manager graphic.JPG


2) Maintain as high a level of transparency as possible with each of your direct reports

From the same illustration, you might want to be as transparent as possible in communicating how each of your team members contributes to the success of the team. Providing this to your employees allows them to understand each other’s roles and responsibilities better. This will help improve the level of collaboration across the team and region.


3) Establish milestones to check in on progress regularly

Most organisations have a mid-year review to make sure that employees are making progress. I would recommend a bi-monthly or quarterly engagement. This is a good opportunity to help remove some of those road blocks they’ve encountered, and also to tweak some of their goals (if there are any changes).


4) Allow ample time for rich two-way communications during the appraisal discussion

Don’t do this in a rush. Allow ample time for your employees to go through their progress. Make this session about them. Everyone likes to feel appreciated and this is one occasion where your time investment could make a huge difference.


I would also go the extra mile to do this over video in a quiet room. This way I can be sure that I’m conveying the right message through my body language. I also take the opportunity to pick up non-verbal cues from my team, to make sure that I don’t miss what’s in between the lines.


5) Follow up with documentation


Always document your appraisal. Usually, the system would allow for evaluation to be captured and stored. If this is not available, do it over email. Performance Management is a cycle, and you want to be able to revisit what you and your employees discussed in the last session.


Also, this eliminates any misunderstanding over expectations, which tend to arise over time. Remember, distance can amplify uncertainty without good management. Thus, if any part of a goal becomes unclear, it needs an appropriate level of attention especially if the team is dispersed over wide geographical regions.



As always, do feel free to comment or drop me a note if you have any interesting tips of your own to share.


If you'd like to know more about the best tools to help you manage a remote team, you can start at this page to find out how Polycom RealPresence video and voice solutions integrate with Microsoft Lync.





Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.


Polycom Employee

How do you manage a team that you can’t physically see?


It can be a daunting challenge to take on, especially if the majority of your team sits in different geographical locations, and travelling to each of those locations is not possible in a short period of time. This is now a common phenomenon for many organisations, both large and small, and remote setups are fast becoming the norm in our very connected modern world of technology.


Here are some tips on how you can better manage your remote team:


1) Communication is key


Don’t leave remote workers trying to read your mind. Distance amplifies uncertainty and it is the role of the remote manager to provide a sense of structure, precise objectives and performance measures. If there’s anything you need to do more of, it is to communicate more.


It is useful to set up a team meeting at least once a quarter to bring everyone together on video. This helps foster a closer bond among the team members.


2) Set up regular 1-on-1 catch ups with your team


Even if it’s for just 10 or 15 minutes, it is always good to have some airtime to catch up. Your team will appreciate you for taking time to speak with them and to hear their challenges or concerns.


I normally do this at the start of the week with my direct reports. Each catch up usually lasts 15 minutes where we cover the critical and urgent issues that need attention.


3) Set up your instant messaging (IM)


Instant messaging tools such as Microsoft Lync are very useful when you want to get a quick response. It is not as intrusive as a phone call and less formal than an email.


Explore the different functionalities of the IM client you’re using. Chances are, the client you’re using supports “group chat”. This is very useful if you want to pull a small group of people together for a quick chat.


Instant messaging also comes with another advantage. It allows everyone in the team to see each other’s presence. IM clients allow you to set your own status to “available”, “busy” or “away”. Being able to see each other online gives the team a sense of “virtual presence”.


4) Update and share your calendar


It is very likely that you and your team are working across different time zones. Coupled with the fact that you don’t get to physically see each other, this can cause difficulties in trying to locate and catch hold of each other; especially when the day’s packed with back-to-back meetings. This can be extremely frustrating for people when they have urgent or time critical issues to resolve. Thus, having an updated calendar and sharing it can help solve some of these issues. Also, if you are going to be engaged for the whole day, make use of the “out of office” notice to inform others that you will take some time to respond to their emails.


5) Watch your language


Unless you’re going to be having a “face-to-face” conversation via video with your remote team, communicating via other channels may deprive you of expressing vital body language.


Thus it would be wise to keep to the safe side and not try to be too “humorous”. The intent may come across very different, which may have a less than desired effect.


For example, you should avoid asking your staff the question “where are you?” the moment he or she answers the phone. I’m sure the intent is to ask if this is a convenient time to have a conversation, but by asking where the person is, it could come across as though you are checking on their whereabouts.



As always, do feel free to comment or drop me a note if you have any interesting tips of your own to share.


If you'd like to know more about the best tools to help you manage a remote team, visit this page to find out how Polycom RealPresence video and voice solutions integrate with Microsoft Lync.





Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.

Polycom Employee

As we welcome the arrival of 2014, we again conduct the annual ritual where we look back at the previous year and reflect on what was good and bad. In the process of doing so, many of us also make a list of resolutions for the New Year.


In keeping with tradition, looking back at 2013, one of the things that I would like to do better in 2014 would be to have “better video etiquette”. Let me qualify this. It’s not that I have extremely bad manners when it comes to taking a video call. However, it is usually the smaller things that we take for granted.


Given my geographically dispersed team and the need to work across many different regions, video conferencing has become an integral part of my daily routine. So much so that we’ve taken it for granted and on many occasions, ignored the little things that prevent us from having a great video experience.


Here’s a list of things that I plan to do better this year:


1) Manage calendar invites


  • Be sensitive about the time zone that participants are joining from
  • Always make sure that you’ve setup your meeting invite properly with the correct details and participants
  • Check the participants’ acceptance to make sure that participants who are required to attend the meeting have accepted the invite
  • If you’re the recipient of a meeting invite, make sure that you accept or reject the invite (if you can’t make the meeting)


2) Check the connection and equipment before the call


  • Make sure that your connection and equipment is functional before the call and if you work in a large organisation, double-check that there’s no IT maintenance scheduled to take place at the time of the meeting
  • If any participants are using the platform for the first time it is always good to do a dry run to make sure that everyone is familiar with the setup
  • Consider the support of the technical support team in advance if it is a very important (or customer facing) call – just as you would ensure you had technical support for any very important offline presentation


3) Check your background and lighting


  • Clean up clutter in the background, and if you are sat at a desk, think about what others can see on your desk and behind you
  • You may want to put up a “video in progress” sign if you are taking the video call at home (just in case anyone at home decides to be funny or noisy!)
  • Check your camera angle before the call and position yourself in a way that others can have a clear view of you
  • Make sure the room is well lit, and if there’s a window behind you, draw the curtains/ blind to reduce the amount of backlight (this will ensure you will not appear too dark on screen)


4) Other logistics


  • Prepare earphones if required. If you’re at a desk in an open office, your colleagues might find the audio from your call a distraction. If you’re working at home, your family members could be sleeping, and you don’t want to wake the whole family!
  • Be sure to put on appropriate attire, even if you’re taking the call from home


5) During the video conference


  • Greet and make introductions, especially when you’re meeting the other parties for the first time
  • Check if anyone is joining the call via audio only – this way, you won’t miss out anyone you’re not seeing on screen
  • Check if the connection is fine and all parties can see and hear each other clearly
  • Put yourself on mute if you’re not speaking so that any background environment noise doesn’t distract others
  • When sharing content, check with participants that they can see the content clearly before you continue your presentation
  • And finally, be focused and don’t try to multi-task during the video call (i.e. work on email or instant message)


I wish everyone a very Happy 2014, and look forward to a wonderful new year.





Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.

Polycom Employee

Having a world-class videoconferencing infrastructure comes with many benefits, especially when you work in an organisation that spans a wide geographic region.


One of the many benefits? It can be a lot of fun!


My team recently organised a little “secret” party of our own – a “bridal shower” (a gift-giving party held for a bride-to-be in anticipation of her wedding) for our US colleague, Erin who’s based in Austin, Texas.


Doing the party over lunch seemed like a great idea, but “lunch” for the folks at Polycom’s headquarters in San Jose, California meant I had to get out of bed at 3am!


I’ve always been disciplined about not accepting meetings that are way past my bed time, however, given this is the first bridal shower I’ve been invited to, I was rather determined not to miss it. (This is not something common we have in Asia!)

Eric photo 1.png

Hiding in my living room and turning the volume down – it's 3am!



It was a fun experience. It was a surprise for Erin, and I liked the astonished look on her face when she stepped into the meeting room thinking it was just another meeting with the team!


Eric photo 2.jpg

 Erin in the top left telling us how much she loved us!



This was an example of videoconferencing exceeding normal expectations and fulfilling what is such an important aspect of our work lives. It truly allowed us to bring everyone together for a “virtual” party; one of the undocumented perks we enjoy.


We’ve had numerous celebrations that certainly defy distance, including parties for birthdays as well as a range of local and global festivals.


Somehow, it had become an educational experience allowing everyone in the team to learn more about each other’s culture. It certainly makes me feel part of a very global family.


So, for those of you who are keen on organising a “virtual party” of your own, here are some tips to note:



1.       Make a list of participants and their locations. Make sure you take note of the time zone that they are in and plan your party in the most “friendly” time slot.


2.       Send out the calendar invite early and get the participants to RSVP.


3.       Brief your participants. Send them a brief background on what the party is about and if you have any expectations of them.


4.       If you are throwing a “surprise” party, remember to inform the participants and remind them to keep it a secret! Also, keep the invite separate for the person you’re throwing the party for.


5.       Last but not least, send out a reminder a day or two before the event. People tend to forget or deprioritise parties especially when they have a hectic schedule.



Finally, I would like to dedicate this post to our colleague, Erin and her new husband, John; wishing them a blissful marriage.


Enjoy yourself and happy partying!





Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.


Polycom Employee


Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.


I’ve become very familiar with the ritual of finally greeting someone that I’ve worked with for a long time, but have never met in person before.


Having worked at a number of organisations with remote and international offices, where the use of video conferencing wasn’t the norm, meeting and greeting new colleagues often began with a rather awkward introduction and sometimes, desperate attempts to remember every person’s name.


I recall the last time I visited my China office in a previous company; in preparation I downloaded the entire org chart with photos of the business unit I was supporting, and desperately tried to remember what each person looked like. It was a funny experience as I knew these people from emails and instant messaging, but yet I felt like I was meeting total strangers for the first time.


I’ve just returned from a visit to Polycom’s headquarters in San Jose. I think it was one of the most interesting visits I’ve ever made to an office in another country, meeting face-to-face with folks whom I work with on a day-to-day basis based thousands of miles away. First and foremost, I didn’t feel out of place walking into that office for the first time. In fact I recognised Wanda, my US counterpart, across the lobby the moment she entered. It felt as though we had physically met in person before, but of course, we hadn’t!


I work with the US team across HR and other corporate functions regularly, clocking numerous video calls. I’ve often presented to them and other global audiences across multiple geographic regions. Yet in San Jose I felt immediately at home. I put that down to the fact that despite entering that office for the first time in my life, I was able to instantly recognise most of the faces and personalities. What’s really amazing? There were folks whom I attended one meeting with saying “hi” to me as if we were old colleagues. I’d never worked closely with them previously – but they felt they knew me simply by having attended some of the same video conferences.


The use of video technology helps me to defy distance and create a “real” presence felt by colleagues in different geographic regions. I realise I am more than just a name on the company contact directory.


So what does this experience typify from an organisational development perspective? It’s simple: this helps teams to foster strong bonds and build chemistry, enabling better collaboration and team performance.


The good news is that this is definitely an easy to deploy technology that organisations should look at to enable higher performance in their global workforce. I honestly believe that video helps to build the best international working relationships and drive closer understanding.


Please feel free to comment, or reach me at eric.wong@polycom.com if you have any thoughts or wish to share personal experience of working globally with technology. You can also find outmore about how HR teams can introduce video and help their organisation to defy distance, by looking at this page.


Eric Wong



Meeting my close colleague, Lyndon for the first time in person.

DSCF0422 - 2013-11-12 at 08-40-19.jpg


Polycom Employee


Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.


During a recent conference, sitting amongst 150+ senior HR practitioners from APAC, the topic of using technology to enable HR processes came up. It was fascinating to hear the two distinctive camps and their divided views on the subject of “video training”.


What was common in the whole exchange was the general definition of video training. Almost everyone in the room defined it as a “pre-recorded” video, uploaded onto the intranet or learning management system (LMS), for employees to access and self-serve. There were the advocates who felt that this is the way to capture and document institutional knowledge for future reference, and there was another group of participants who felt that the method has its limitations in keeping the audience engaged throughout the presentation, thus will not be the most effective delivery.


Being my usual passionate self and rather surprised that most in the room felt that recording is the way video training is done, my hand shot up at this moment to offer a different perspective.


A lot of the HR practitioners were not entirely familiar with how technology has advanced over the past few years. Thus they felt that in order to get the best video quality, a clip will have to be pre-recorded and posted online. However, what is often overlooked is the ability to leverage today’s video collaboration technology with “live” trainers and deliver real time, interactive programs across a wide geographic region. The availability of high definition (HD) video technology and cost effective bandwidth allows us to create real presence and connection between the trainer and participants.


Live video training gives us new exciting possibilities with numerous benefits. For one, we can get a much higher level of engagement with the participants. We can now also achieve a better economy of scale; defying distance and simultaneously bridging multiple locations, in order to bring participants together whether they are based across a country, a region, or the globe. From a quality perspective, we can also ensure a single standard, where content is being delivered in consistent manner. This is extremely useful, especially for industries that need to enforce a strict standard of consistency, and conformance to a set of guidelines.


At the conference, I gave an example of how an equipment training session was conducted over telepresence. The trainer made use of high definition cameras to zoom in on specific parts of the equipment to illustrate “live” how that piece of hardware is dismantled and serviced. I did get a few nods of acknowledge from counterparts from the aviation, airline and luxury retail industry.


The technology we have access to today has come far and the way we design and deliver training has evolved. It is time for HR departments to reap the benefits. .


You can reach me at eric.wong@polycom.com if you have any comments or thoughts on enabling the HR of the future with technology.


To find out more about how HR teams can benefit from video and help their organisation to defy distance, take a look at this page.


Eric Wong


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