Covid takes videoconferencing to next level - GulfToday

Covid takes videoconferencing to next level

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

Video conferencing

From conference halls and classrooms, people have moved in front of screens, thanks to COVID-19 pandemic.

Now that the whole of the UK has gone into another lockdown for the foreseeable future, schools have closed again. A level students have already been told, to their dismay, that their exams will be cancelled, and it’s not even June yet. The only teaching kids are getting nowadays is either through classes that have been pre-recorded and posted online or they are live. However with the disparity of access to education across the world, even in the UK the mode and frequency of delivery of these classes varies considerably between private and public schools.

According to many parents, children who attend private schools seem to receive live online classes almost all day every day giving those kids a chance to interact with their peers and ask questions of their teachers in real time. Public school children, however, seem to receive little or no live classes at all.

When people are being forced to stay at home I feel that video conferencing has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages many public school teachers raised was something I think we’ve all been thinking. In fact we’ve watched it unfold live on television.

Remember that fellow on television who was being interviewed about President Trump? He was speaking live from home when the door to his study burst open and in barged his children with the wife trying to drag them out without being seen. This was right in the middle of him answering questions on a major news network. Of course the video went viral (this pun is so not appropriate now) and most people likened it to their lives now.

The fact is that people were using this mode of communication, through Skype and WebEx, long before Covid. For the most part people didn’t mind their offices or their staff being seen in the background or even in the conference room listening in whilst they were conducting their meetings.

But there is a huge difference between conducting online video meetings from a place of business and your home. A lot of people are rather uncomfortable with the idea of carrying out interviews or business meetings via video from home, and their reasons vary. Some just do not have the space or privacy in which to conduct such calls. They do not live in a home where there is enough space in which to (a) set up a dedicated workspace and (b) they literally cannot find a place to take a video call where they won’t be interrupted or where there won’t be intrusive noises of children screaming or family members squabbling in the background.

Now that children are studying from home many teachers are nervous as they can see some parents watching them teach. Others feel like their privacy is being invaded because everyone can see the room from which the videoconference is being held. To be honest, since Covid and most news commentators are now contributing from home, we all know what so and so’s kitchen looks like, or their living room, where their staircase is or their hall. We all know the kinds of books that are on their shelves, their décor, the furnishings or the types of wall hangings they have. This is highly uncomfortable.

To be honest, if I need to do a videoconference I plan very carefully where to do it and how to make sure that our flat isn’t seen by the person on the other side. If at all possible, I try to commandeer a room for a while and inform the family that I have a videoconference at a particular time. If finding a vacant or quiet space is not possible I try to make sure my back is to a plain, white, nondescript wall and put up a notice by my laptop that says ‘in a meeting’ so that anyone coming to me knows that I am incommunicado.  

That being said, videoconferencing and live streaming has huge advantages too in that you no longer need to travel anywhere for any type of meeting. You no longer need to meet people in person regardless of what business you are conducting. I have even seen QMS audits being done online and, in my view, so too can site inspections via real time videos. Add to that the need not to travel or get caught up in traffic or spend money on fares or petrol. Plus you are literally on time for your meeting, barring any internet hiccups. I think that videoconferencing is invaluable.

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