Political campaigns and advocacy groups are dynamic organizations that differ from traditional office settings. The demand for primary interpersonal connection between coworkers remains the same, however. Like any organization with a dispersed workforce, campaigns can frequently be national organizations (i.e., a presidential campaign). That means your managers, operations staff, and support staff are working in several locations simultaneously. So, finding a reliable unified communication method should be a priority. If this is the case, video conferencing could be a potential solution.
Why video conferencing?
People who telecommute or are dispersed by a central organization in several locations need to connect to home base regularly, to meet performance goals and collaborate. Video conferencing promotes this by giving a “living face” to a team member who could be on the other side of the country.
According to research conducted by Polycom, 80 percent of all communication between individuals is dependent on visual cues. These cues include body posture, facial expressions, pauses, and so much more.
Using video conferencing is the “next best thing” to in-person interaction. Plus, joint decision making and collaboration will be enriched if teams in multiple time zones can understand everyone’s feelings about a project.
Video conferencing can also be used for hiring staff, training new employees, connecting with donors, hosting organization-wide discussions, and cutting down on unneeded travel costs.
The drawbacks of video conferencing
We all should remember the most obvious drawback to video conferencing: It doesn’t replace actual human interaction.
When a large organization is dispersed across multiple time zones (typical of national organizations), video conferencing is a valuable tool to bridge the productivity gap. Video conferencing should only be used to connect with other members of your team who aren’t readily available for in-person meetings. Plus, the potential for technical difficulties is a factor to consider, among other little “hiccups.”
Knowing which platform to use
Finding the best video conferencing tool for your organization is a decision entirely based on your needs, size of your deployed workforce, and budget.
There are free platforms like Skype which usually offer group video chats for small groups of people, in addition to paid options like Skype for Business. Alternatively, you can look at traditional video conferencing platforms like Appear.in, Join.Me, or Cisco WebEx. These tools typically provide options for small to medium-sized organizations and with choices for enterprises.
Or, if you are looking to save some money, consider some platforms that you may not expect. Slack, a popular chat tool, offers video meetings. Google Hangouts can host up to 25 users in a video meeting launched from the Google Calendar application. And, surprisingly, Amazon Web Services recently released Amazon Chime as an option for conference calling and video conferencing all in one application.
Most of the applications mentioned here have screen sharing capabilities and built-in collaboration tools, too.