It’s funny how over time science fiction turns into science fact and becomes an everyday reality.
The examples of this phenomenon abound. Jules Verne wrote of undersea ships and in time submarines came into existence. Special Agent Maxwell Smart had a phone in his shoe and along came cell phones. Various books, movies, and TV included phones with graphical capabilities, now Skype, the new iPhone application, and other similar tools have become commonplace. Who knows, maybe one day, Scotty actually will be able to beam us up.
As the title of this blog alludes, this week’s topic is not a discussion of about how science fiction can become science fact. It’s a blog about how you, as an IT professional, can use Skype type tools to help yourself professionally. So let’s get to it.
Success in business requires successful communication. That said, my premise is the more effectively and cost efficiently you can communicate, the more successful you can be.
The number of virtual teams and remote workers has never been higher. Therefore, anything that helps facilitate improved communication, teambuilding, and teamwork can be of great advantage. Skype, and tools like it, provide a unique ability to bring those who are far away, closer together. The military uses it to let soldiers in foreign lands speak to and see their loved ones. Grandparents in far off cities use it to see the face of a new born grandchild. Using the phone and hearing a voice is great, but humans are visual creatures and as a result, seeing as well as hearing the person you are talking to greatly enhance the experience.
All that said, here are ten ways that you can use these tools in the workplace to enhance your personal productivity, enhance your impact, maximize your visibility, give more compelling remote presentations, and establish closer professional relationships.
1. Enhance your personal productivity by making phone calls faster. If you have Skype installed on your PC, clicking on a phone number automatically calls the number, thus saving you the time of dialing the number. 2. Use it as a way to record your phone calls (legally of course) for future analysis and learning purposes. 3. Use it when providing instructions and/or technical support, record your technical advice, convert it to text using Dragon Software, and use the transcripts for a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section on your company website. 4. If you work remotely, from a home office, use it to improve your personal relationships with people at your corporate office. Use Skype in cooperation with your webcam. Seeing the faces of people you are working with, and them seeing your face, can help put-a-face-with-the-name. This visual touch makes you more than just the voice on the phone. 5. When giving remote presentations to coworkers, point your webcam toward the whiteboard and you can include ad hoc diagrams, flip chart, and other similar visuals in your remote presentations. 6. Have Skype on everyone’s desk. It helps to even the playing field between in-office and remote workers; thus helping remote workers feel more integrated within the team which facilitates increased communication, enhanced coordination, and potentially higher productivity. 7. If you have staff in two physical locations, use Skype (with web cams) between the locations. It will help facilitate teamwork between the two groups by giving them a greater feeling of personal familiarity. 8. If you and/or your group provide technical support to internal or external business users, use a Skype-type tool so those you are helping can see you. This can dramatically improve your client service rating because the people you are helping will have a stronger personal connection to you and thus be less likely to give you a poor rating. 9. If your project has people in many locations, use group video calling product feature so that everyone can see everyone else. This is a great teambuilding tool because it helps give the team a sense of “oneness” by seeing everyone together on the screen at the same time. 10. Skype can now also be used for file sharing. This can help you pass large files from place to place without worrying about email size limitations and filling up people’s email boxes.
As techies, we spend our lives helping others improve their productivity and way of life by providing them with great technologies. The moral of this blog is that we should also remember to use these tools, like Skype, for our own benefit also.
If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.
Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.