Face-time vs. Phone-time: Which type of meeting should you schedule?

May 12, 2021

Video conferencing has quickly grown in popularity over the last year with the mass transition to remote work. While video conferencing is a powerful tool to bridge the location gap and connect teams virtually, the rapid increase in popularity has overshadowed audio-only calls as the best option for certain meetings. This begs the question: When should a call be video, and when is a classic phone call sufficient?

When video conferencing is necessary

Video conferencing delivers a more personal meeting experience and are best used on a semi-regular basis to keep communication strong and to improve team spirit.

  • First time meetings: Video is a more personal form of communication and will allow you to gain a more complete understanding of a person if you’re able to see and gauge their nonverbal communication including gestures, facial expressions, and tone.
  • Interviews: It’s always a good idea to learn about someone as if it were an in-person interview. Video conferencing allows for more interaction than a phone call, so you’ll be able to engage with greater context.
  • Team collaborations: Video conferencing is also good for teams continuing to nurture their collaboration and overall relationship after transitioning to remote work. When you’re used to seeing each other for in-person meetings, it can be valuable to continue with face-to-face interaction.

A phone call will suffice

Audio-only calls are still the preferred method of communication for many, and is ideal for quick check-ins, updates, or well-established routine calls.

  • Familiar routines/relationships: A phone call is often sufficient when the parties already have an established relationship. Quick check-ins with colleagues for project updates can be done more efficiently by phone as well.
  • Sensitive or complex topics: Audio-only calls are incredibly secure and less likely to be infiltrated by hackers. Discussing sensitive topics such as social injustice, COVID-19, and asking for a promotion, raise or sharing your resignation are better discussed via phone if an in-person meeting is not an option.

In addition, many remote workers are experiencing “Zoom fatigue” or simply the need to stop staring at their computer all day. No matter what the topic, if you can hold a meeting by phone to allow team members to detach from their desks and get in some movement, it may help increase overall health, efficiency and productivity.

Seeing other faces is refreshing but knowing when to use audio-only and when it’s appropriate to turn on the camera is important. Before automatically scheduling your next team check-in via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, take a moment and think – will a phone call do the trick?

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