Getting Ready for Video Conferencing Calls

Dave Hodgdon and Steve Ripper from Portsmouth Computer Group (PCG) discuss getting ready for video conferencing calls when working remotely.

Mike: Tuesday morning, it’s Tech Tuesday. We’re powered today by Portsmouth Computer Group with convenient locations here in the sea coast in Portsmouth and Dover, Manchester, Portland. Man, they’ve got you covered. Check them out. And we’re joined once again by our good friends, Dave Hodgdon and Steve Ripper from Portsmouth Computer Group with our tech highlights of the week. Hey guys. Good morning. Welcome. How are you?

Video Conferencing Preparation

Well, today we’re going to talk a little bit about planning and budgeting and getting ready for video conferencing calls at the office in your remote workforce. Because one thing we’ve learned over the last three and a half months, Dave, is that we have really been able to work from home. We do have a remote workforce, we have remote equipment, but what things should we be concerned about? Because you know what? COVID is spiking again and many of the workers are still at home. They don’t really want to come to the office and they have that choice now. So I guess now is a good time to think about the next year for how your team’s going to best communicate with each other, the clients, prospects, and vendors, when it comes to video conferencing and remote works, I guess.

Dave Hodgdon: Yeah. I see the biggest thing, I’ve been on so many calls over the last three months and I know Steve has to, is the person on the other end, I’ve been learning a lot of what I feel should be right, and what’s wrong. And I think it’s a good time for your company to take an inventory of what your remote workforce users are using from their PC, their webcam, your internet connection, but if they’re not up to standard, the video experience on the other end, and I’m sure you’ve all seen it, it could be choppy, [inaudible] comes and goes. It doesn’t look professional, and I feel today that more and more we’re going to do remotely. You need to come across to give your team a competitive advantage.

Mike: And Dave, why is that? Why are some screens very crisp and clear? And why are some others getting delayed on the audio and the platforms are just not that sharp? Why is that?

Dave: I’m going to let Steve answer that one. He’s got that one.

Mike: All right, Steve.

Importance of Internet Connectivity

Steve Ripper: So you know, Mike, a lot of it has to do with the internet connection. So if you’re sitting at home and you’ve got your laptop and maybe you didn’t spend too much with the wireless. And more importantly, Mike, maybe the wireless unit is very far away from where your office is. So a lot of these video solutions, Mike, will downgrade the video because the internet signal is not that good. That’s how they handle it. Their algorithm, if you want to go that way, is to make sure that the video is connected, but they’ll just keep downgrading it, both the sound and the video to make up for the fact that the internet is not good.

So what you really want to do is you want to take stock of maybe what is your home office doing at this point. To go back to what Dave was talking about, a lot of these companies out there really focused on just “Can we get remote access up and running? Are all my people connecting? Are they using teams?” You know, that was the focus. Now the new focus is, “Do you have guidelines for this?” Like Dave was talking about. Do you have plans and policies in place? Because the truth is, these remote access meetings, they really are your sales method now. They are now your meet and greet. So how you appear and what you look like and the technology that you’re using when you’re connecting to these meetings really is far more important.

You used to spend time on how you were dressed, how you greeted somebody, your business cards. Now it’s how is your remote access solution looking?

Dave: Yeah, Mike, you got to dress for success. And I’ve been on so many calls that the background of what you see someone on the other end is not professionally dressed. You know, their hair is messy. You can see their bed in the background, a bathroom door. I mean, you got to realize who’s on the other end of the camera and have some good lighting and do test runs. This is your business, you know? Play it up the way it should be.

The Different Video Conferencing Platforms

Mike: The other thing I wanted you to ask you guys, we’ve heard so much about Zoom, but there are other platforms. Tell our listeners what some of the other video conferencing platforms are that people may not know about. Obviously they’ve heard about Zoom because that’s been at the top of everybody’s mind, Zoom meetings, Zoom conferencing, but there’s other platforms, correct?

Steve: There are. But really Zoom and Teams have taken the lead in this. You know, once the latest unpleasantness hit us, the pandemic, really Teams and Zoom took over the market lead in this. There is WebEx. And so WebEx has been a solution that’s been around for a long time. And there’s other competing solutions, Mike, for screen-sharing or taking control of a PC. Those solutions have been out there, but really the meeting marketplace has been Zoom and Teams, and those are the two big players.

Dave: And GoToMeeting is another big one. Google Share is out there, but Steve hit it on the point. Those are the two biggies right now.

Mike: GoToMeeting has been around for a while though, right? They’ve been around for awhile.

Steve: Yeah.

Dave: Absolutely have been around. So I still get a lot of people and I got an invitation the other day from something I’d never heard of and I was struggling to get everything to work. So it’s nice to stay with the standard. And I think it’s important your company has the ability to do the conference call, but also has the ability if someone else sends them the link that they can connect with what the other person is sending them.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. And Zoom, they’re not the new kid on the block or are they? Zoom?

Dave: Oh, no, Zoom-

Steve: Yeah. They’d been around a while. But they really leveraged at the moment, Mike, they kind of hit the whole, “We’re the place for these types of meetings.” And they’ve been really a good innovator of the features within the program, of how you connect to each other and really building right into the solution the ability to put backgrounds behind people. A lot of companies don’t know this and they should be talking internally about policies of where if you don’t have a good backdrop, if you don’t have a good setup at your home, like Dave was saying, the bathroom is right there. Or maybe the kids are in the next room and they’re running around.

Both Teams and Zoom have the ability to put virtual backdrops behind you like an office space that looks professional or whatever you want. And really can add that extra level of professionalism when you’re doing a meeting with other companies and other interests-

Mike: Yeah, it’s one thing-

Dave: If you watch like CNN, you’ll see all the guys there that are doing their show in [crosstalk] the Capital, the White House. And that’s your business, you’re in the show light, so step up your game, as Steve said, plan it out, make sure your background is good and play it right.

Mike: Yeah, it’s one thing to have the bathroom in the background, but then it’s another to have your kid in the bathroom in the background.

Steve: Yeah. And that happens. Like, it happens.

Mike: That’s not going to go over with the CEO of IBM or whatever.

Steve: I’ve been in meetings, Mike, the cat walks across the desk right in front of the screen. I’ve had those meetings.

Proper Internet Bandwidth for Video Conferencing

Mike: Yeah, I know. Well, here’s the question I have for you? How do you know, when you do these video conferences, and I know you guys can tell this to the listeners, but how do you know you have the right internet bandwidth? How do you know what to go with?

Steve: So faster is better, right?

Mike: Yeah.

Steve: You know, like you said, you’re trying to shore up a lot of the different things. There are speed tests. So the technical answer to that might be just do a speed test. You can Google a speed test in any browser and you can see what your speeds are. Both Windows laptops and devices will give you indication in the lower right corner how much signal strength you’re getting. So those are all metrics that you can use. Do you have good internet speed? Are you able to work and do remote access? And then the other thing is then ask the people in the meetings. So companies need to test, Dave talked about this just a little bit ago. I mean, you need to test, you need to give feedback within the company on this topic. “I didn’t like the way you were dressed. I would like to see a backdrop behind you.”

Mike: Sure, yeah.

Steve: “It was very choppy and your audio wasn’t very good.” And the company should get involved in that, saying “Hey,” to the employee, “What do we need to do to help you get to this level? Because you’re going to be doing more of these meetings going forward. This is the new normal.”

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. So like Maverick said in Top Gun back in 1984, “I feel the need for speed.”

Steve: Yeah, exactly right.

Backup Options Offered by Video Conferencing Platforms

Mike: So let me ask you this, you still have to have a setup just in case people can’t get on video wise, they can call in though, too, right?

Dave: Oh, absolutely. There’s what they call a conference bridge. A lot of services like Teams, like you might not be a Teams user, Mike, but there’s a service within teams that you can buy another SKU that gives you an 800 number that you can dial into. Because you just want to make sure whoever you’re sending it out, if they don’t have that ability to, or they’re having video issues, that they can just pick up the phone and be part of the meeting. You don’t want to leave people out of your meeting. You have to get them all at all angles to get in.

Security Risks When Working Remotely

Mike: Yeah. We’re speaking with Dave Hodgdon, Steve Ripper from Portsmouth Computer Group, It’s all part of Tech Tuesday where 7:53. I wanted to ask you one more thing before I let you guys go. I mean, a lot of people are working remotely. Even though things are opening up, they’re still kind of hesitant to come back into the office. A lot of people are giving the workers the choice, whether they want to come back into the office or continue to work remotely. How big is the risk for security and hackers and things like that, working more remotely now?

Dave: I think it’s more than ever, Mike. And we’ve been talking about that recently, the cyber attacks, the studies, the results you’re seeing from all the other players out there, the numbers are up. It’s important that you minimize these risks. Because at home, we’ve been talking about you on your home network. You’re not behind a firewall. You might be not using a company-based machine. You might not be on a private network. We spoke about how your mind could be with the kids. You’re not a hundred percent focused to work. So your remote workforce have guidelines in place that they are following your policies. It’s got to be acceptable. You need to be mindful. You need to be aware of any oddities and you have to report it right away because the attacks are skyrocketing right now.

Mike: Cyber attacks are growing probably at a faster pace than ever before.

Steve: Yeah, and that’s part of a larger trend that we’ve talked about where we’re seeing companies get more involved in the device that they’re sending the employee home with, so that they can control that security part of it. It used to be in the past, Mike, where you didn’t think about whatever your employees were using at home, what their PC was. Did they buy something from an online retailer or whatever, right?

Mike: Yeah, yeah.

Steve: So now we’re seeing companies get involved in what’s going home with them and what is on those. Web filtering to protect them. Anti-virus to protect them. VPNs protect them and different types of security solutions so that, the term we use is, they’re extending the security space out from the building to their home areas.

Mike: All right, we’ll make that the final word. Important information indeed if people are still working from home remotely or video conferencing at the office, which so many people are doing. We here at WTS have been doing a lot of Zoom meetings with our sales and promotions as well. But you also, as Dave and Steve have said, you’ve got to think about the security and make sure that you are minimizing the risk. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Portsmouth Computer Group with convenient locations in Portsmouth and Dover, Manchester, Portland, Maine, they can help you out. Check out their website, Hey, have a great 4th of July holiday week. We’ll talk to you next week, my friends, all right?

Dave: Yeah. Well, we’ll talk about Cam Newton next time. The Patriots are back.

Mike: The Patriots are back.

Steve: Thanks, Mike.

Mike: Is anything really back, Dave?

Dave: Oh, we’re back. Super Bowl, here we come again.

Mike: Super Bowl, here we come. Oh my gosh. All right, thank you, Dave. Thank you, Steve. Have a good week.