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November 24, 2021 10:00 AM, EST

Videoconferencing: Key Features for Trucking Firms

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Given that working from home is expected to become a permanent component of business culture moving forward, you'll want to be sure you're using video meeting software that's a perfect fit for your trucking company.

“Remote work has proven to be a critical enabler of business and economic continuity, ultimately proving that work really is something that we do, and not somewhere that we go,” said Jim Lundy, lead analyst at Aragon Research. “In this next phase, companies have the opportunity to completely rethink how they operate. And collaboration technologies that provide high-quality and highly secure video at scale will be key.”

Indeed, many trucking companies that embraced video meetings as a safeguard against the pandemic have discovered remote working has actually led to a spike in productivity.

Joe Dysart

Dysart

Wyles Griffith, president of R.E. Garrison Trucking, said his business’ switch to a hybrid mode of working — some working at home, some in the office — has resulted in “higher productivity levels than the levels observed with the sole in-office model.”

He attributed the rise in productivity to the flexibility offered by remote work. Employees can attend video meetings with a click of a mouse. And they can dial in to a meeting even if they’re feeling a bit under the weather — a condition that traditionally may have resulted in a sick day.

Pitt Ohio Transportation Group saw similar gains after relying heavily on video meetings to interact with customers as the pandemic raged, said Geoff Muessig, executive vice president at the company.

He cited productivity gains among workers who generally liked the change to hybrid working.

“By and large, Pitt Ohio has found that working remotely is at least as productive as working from the office, if not more,” Muessig said.

The convenience of video meetings also has enabled Pitt Ohio to bring key company decision-makers into meetings more often — an opportunity that simply did not exist with the traditional face-to-face meeting format, Muessig said.

Moving forward, Muessig sees about 50% of Pitt Ohio’s customers opting for a hybrid approach to meetings, and he said about 80% of Pitt Ohio staff will be working in hybrid mode. Pitt Ohio ranks No. 48 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

Of course, remote and hybrid working aided by video meetings is not for everyone.

By and large, Pitt Ohio has found that working remotely is at least as productive as working from the office, if not more.

Pitt Ohio CEO Geoff Muessig

Geoff Muessig

Joey Hogan, president of Covenant Logistics Group, sees video meetings as more of a last resort than a burgeoning new option for business interactions.

“Business and life had to go on [with the pandemic] and videoconferencing — while not ideal — did allow us to ‘go on,’ ” he said.

While some jobs at Covenant shifted to the remote model as the pandemic dragged on, Hogan still prefers old-school meetings for solidifying ongoing business. “Relationship building is best face-to-face,” he said.

Covenant ranks No. 46 on the for-hire TT100.

Business and life had to go on [with the pandemic] and videoconferencing — while not ideal — did allow us to ‘go on.’

Covenant Logistics Group CEO Joey Hogan

Joey Hogan

 

Phillip Edwards, president of Titan Transfer Inc., is another more reluctant user of videoconferencing.

“We do not see remote working as a permanent alternative to our business,” Edwards said. “Our office is a strong team. And it is difficult at best to be as good as you can be when working remotely. We believe that you work on the culture of your company every day. And that is extremely difficult to do by remote.”

For truckers convinced that video meetings are something they can use to enhance their bottom line, the good news is it’s a buyer’s market: Currently, a slew of software providers are vying for your business.

And while it’s tempting to simply grab a well-known provider for your videoconferencing needs and call it a day, you’ll be better served if you’re aware of all the key features available from video meeting software providers these days.

Zoom, for example, has become a household name — and even a verb — among its legions of business user fans. But your trucking company may prefer a lower profile solution such as ­Whereby.com — given that solution enables you to bring someone into your video meeting with just a single mouse click. Or, you may decide that another video meeting solution rings the bell because it’s designed to work with Zapier, a software integration solution that enables thousands of apps from thousands of developers to work together seamlessly.

For a full appreciation of what the market has to offer, here’s a roundup of the key features you’ll find in video meeting software that you can use to decide on the ultimate solution for your trucking business:

• Live text transcription: One of the newest features emerging in video meetings, live text transcription enables you to see a real-time, voice-to-text record of everything everyone in the meeting is saying. As you might imagine, the tech is not perfect yet, but Zoom, for example, has still promised to offer live text transcription to all users sometime in 2022.

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• Meeting recording: Many video meeting software packages already offer audio/video recordings that are instantly available at the close of a meeting. This is a great feature for anyone looking to double-check what was said or de­cided in any given meeting.

• Meeting highlights: This is a handy feature that enables a staffer or other employee to effortlessly put together video highlights for anyone unable to attend a video meeting. BlueJeans, for one, offers a meeting highlights feature that enables a user to click a keyboard button to capture a 40-second clip of something important going on in any BlueJeans meeting.

• Screen sharing: Most business-grade videoconferencing software offers the ability for one user to share their PC screen with everyone else, or collaborate in other ways using a whiteboard or similar collaboration software. For many businesses, the feature is a must-have.

• Live text chat: Text chat also is standard for many videoconferencing packages, enabling people to add a quick thought to everyone while a meeting is in progress. Or, they can choose to have a private discussion with someone while the main video meeting broadcasts.

• Instant entry: While video meeting software makers have made entry to meetings as easy as clicking on a link and entering an ID and password, software from Whereby.com has made it a step easier. With this software, you can simply click on a link and you’re there, immediately on screen and conferencing with the person who invited you.

• Easy integration: Integration with other software is nearly considered a prerequisite for any productivity app these days, and most video meeting programs offer some sort of integration. Thousands of software programs, for example, can be integrated with one another using Zapier. And some major video meeting software names, such as Zoom, have their own marketplaces of hundreds of productivity apps that are specifically designed to integrate with their software.

• Instant bios: Warmly is an app for Zoom that scours the web for bio information on everyone who is attending a Zoom meeting.

• Private breakout rooms: Many video software packages also offer attendees the ability to break into smaller rooms for private meetings while the main meeting is still going on. This is an especially helpful feature for meetings that host hundreds of people.

• Virtual backgrounds: As riveting as the home bookshelf behind you may be, business colleagues at a video meeting may not be interested in peeking into your home — or watching your toddler make faces at the camera. Virtual backgrounds solve this problem by superimposing your image over a digitized background of anything you can photograph, illustrate or otherwise image. That includes a smart-looking office, a backdrop of the Grand Canyon or the captain’s seat on the Starship Enterprise.

• Waiting room: Another must-have for most businesses, virtual meeting waiting rooms enable you to get a look at people trying to enter your video meeting and block entrance to those who don’t belong there — including any ne’er-do-wells trying to disrupt your meeting for grins and giggles.

• Gmail meeting scheduling: Many video meeting packages enable you to schedule your video meeting from within Gmail or other popular email programs.

• In-suite videoconferencing: Before you go looking for video meeting software, double-­check any remote productivity software you may be using. Many of these suites — including Microsoft Teams, Slack and Google Workspace — already include video meeting software that may satisfy all your needs.

• Popularity: More often than not, extremely popular video meeting solutions got that way by consistently wowing their users. Currently, the top five most popular solutions on the market, according to G2, a popular software review site, are: Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Skype, Cisco Webex Meetings and BlueJeans Meetings.

• Free plan: Some of the most popular video meeting packages — including Zoom, Google Meet and the videoconferencing module in Microsoft Teams — offer a basic, bare-bones plan that you can use for free, forever. These free plans offer you the luxury of getting a feel for how ­video meeting works while giving you the time to figure out which features in videoconferencing are truly important to you.

Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan. Voice: (631) 438-1142. Email: joe@gurutechalert.com

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