Okay, there is no “we.” More like “me.” I’m going back in time.
I’ve been with Polycom for about a year now, and video has become a part of my everyday life. I’m not just talking about video conferencing—I’m talking about Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Live, and Periscope—all video-enabled apps that have allowed me to connect with friends and colleagues regularly.
I’ve been in the professional world (post-college) for about five years now. Most positions I’ve held required very little video and audio conferencing. A few positions were at major tech companies, so apps like Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger were the main forms of communication. In other roles, our teams were in the same building so there was no need to dial-in through some peculiar device in the middle of the table, everything was done in person.
It wasn’t until joining Polycom that I truly understood the power of video. During my interview, two of the four people (who also became my managers) interviewed me over video. I was amazed. I’ve had video interviews before, but they were through your standard apps, so to experience the audio and video quality of an enterprise solution was something else entirely.
After my interview I was excited by the fact that working from home was the norm in some cases; that if I woke up one day and thought, “Eh, I’m not feeling too well and can’t make that commute today,” that I could do just that and still get work done.
Now a year has passed and here I am trying to figure out how to share with the world the importance and difference video makes when it comes to effective collaboration. I use it every day. My team uses it every day. My managers aren’t even in the same building, same state or even same time zone as me, but we manage to exceed all expectations when it comes to executing our goals.
All smiles here! Our weekly sync with our team across the globe.
As a millennial, I grew up with video and chat and all the apps, and I never got to fully experience audio-only conferencing. I still haven’t been on an audio-only conference, but I hear it’s… not so great of an experience. I’ve heard colleagues and friends complain about how painful and unproductive audio calls can be and how their lives changed when they joined a company so focused on quality audio and video collaboration.
I imagine it would go something like this YouTube video by Tripp and Tyler: “A Conference Call in Real Life.”
So, I’ve decided to take a few steps back and switch from using Polycom’s video conferencing solutions to audio-only for the next two weeks. This means my colleagues on the far end won’t be able to see me and vice-versa. I’m going to document my experience using audio-only for the first time in my professional career.
My (older) colleagues would like me to point out that even though I’m going audio-only for two weeks that I still won’t get the full experience from back in the day. This is mainly due to Polycom HD Voice, the very thing that brought this company to where it is today. (Read our co-founder’s article on Backchannel.com, “How I Founded a $2 Billion Dollar Company with a 95 Cent Book from Radio Shack.”)
But why put myself through this? It’s 2016—and you would think that the vast majority of businesses have made the switch from audio to video, so there’s no point in conducting this experiment. Surprisingly, there are still many out there who truly don’t understand the power of video collaboration.
For me, sometimes it’s nice to see where technology has been in order to appreciate and see where it’s going. I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by all the innovative technologies in Silicon Valley, so “backtracking” a little to see what I missed out on should be interesting.
Yes, that means I will be the person on the call asking, “Who’s here? Can you hear me? Say that again, please!”
So, to my colleagues outside of San Jose, California—wish me luck as I go back to the stone age of conferencing!