Not only since virtual teams and home office are increasingly establishing themselves in companies, video and conference calls are already being used there as a substitute for personal meetings. Nevertheless, the increased focus on the new methods in new work means that the appropriate virtual meeting software and the right equipment are becoming significantly more important.

In this article, I would like to explain in more detail what exactly matters and which factors play an essential role. All information is reflected in a summary from chapter 3.4 of my book Virtual Teams and Homeoffice from Springer Verlag.

Virtual meetings

Especially at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the importance of replacing personal meetings with virtual conferences became apparent. This measure was even used so much by companies that there were occasional failures due to system overload.

Most companies currently rely on the market leader Zoom in the field of virtual meeting software. In addition to a low-cost monthly flat rate of EUR 14 per user, it offers a few other advantages. With zoom, they can not only participate in video conferencing by phone, but also virtually view documents together with colleagues. Of course, the software corresponds to a secure encrypted video solution.

Alternatively, companies obtain their virtual meeting software via open source offerings such as Kopano and Jitsi. Or in the commercial area via Skype, Goto Meeting or Webex.

Choosing the right microphone

But even the best virtual meeting software can only be used efficiently if the additional equipment is also at an adequate level. This primarily includes choosing the right microphone. Especially because the hardware already installed in the PC is often not sufficient (see figure below).

My equipment consists of a Jabra Evolve 75 headset for telephony
and a capacitor microphone (T-Bone 400) with Steinberg HR12 audio interface
for video conference
(Lindner, 2020)

In principle, Therefore, I recommend that you pay attention to the following when deciding on the right equipment:

Sound: The sound is crucial for professional and comfortable meetings. The better they are understood, the more pleasant the conference is for the other participants.

Microphone & Sound: The sound is crucial for professional and comfortable meetings. The better they are understood, the more pleasant the conference is for the other participants. The microphone should therefore above all transmit a clear voice. For example, I work with a studio microphone with an audio interface (from 200 EUR in a set).

Webcam: I recommend a budget of 150 EUR for a high-quality product.

Headset: In my opinion, the headset should use a Bluetooth version (100-300 EUR) with active noise reduction. This also has the advantage of reducing ambient noise for the caller.

Conclusion for virtual meeting software and the right equipment

The COVID-19 pandemic in particular has clearly demonstrated the importance of good virtual meeting software and the appropriate equipment. Even if it is not always necessary to set a high budget, I recommend at least to buy a high-quality microphone or headset.

In the field of software, you can also choose between commercial and free open source software (chapters 3.1 and 3.3. of my book). You should make this primarily dependent on your business strategy. However, it is also important that you let the virtual meeting software interact meaningfully. This means that they either source all the necessary components from the same provider or assemble a package with the corresponding elements themselves in the area of open source. This is the only way they can establish an efficient software landscape in their system, which their employees feel comfortable using.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/de/photos/mikrofon-tastatur-tablet-podcast-2469297/

Tip: Read my new book: virtual teams & home office at Springer Gabler or book me for a talk.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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