I’m going to share one of my dreams with you. It may initially seem irrelevant to this article’s topic but bear with me please. As a pharmacist, I care about patient outcomes. But if it’s possible to do so while keeping my patients’ best interests at heart, I’d also like to get rich. There. I said it and I’m not taking it back. Of course, being rich is relative here. Financially speaking, a lot of us who don’t necessarily live as highly liquid millionaires in our own societies are still considerably wealthy by global standards. So let me clarify. I want to be first world rich.
One of the long term ideas I always thought about was owning and operating medical centres. If I owned a medical building in a first world economy, I could start my own pharmacy downstairs whilst renting various suites to other medical professionals. Revenue from the pharmacy, revenue from the building...Sounds like a great idea. Set me up with two or three of those buildings and I’d be raking it in. Three pharmacies and three buildings! Call me Moneybags, thank you very much! Scrooge McDuck has nothing on me. I exaggerate for effect. Truth is, taxes where I live would probably just make me “Moneybag”. Singular, not plural. Still pretty good though!
The problems with such plans are myriad, such as the huge business loans I’d have to pay off before enjoying the proceeds. But the most significant problem for me is that operating three medical centres and their pharmacies would require constant supervision. I had this vision of starting these places then jetting off to play “citizen of the world” for a few months. Flying back in, three or four times a year, to stay for a few weeks and make sure things are on point before taking off again. Speaking with a longtime doctor and family friend, my oldest friends’ dad, he advised against it. He hit me with the timeless wisdom: “You have to stay on top of your money”.
He was right of course. Businesses based on physical locations usually need their owners’ constant presence in said locations. That’s why franchising is such a popular business model. Because the companies can’t always operate extensive locations directly as sole owners. So I started thinking. How could I be there… And not there, at one and the same time? Thank you for bearing with me so far. Where I’m going with this is probably dawning on you right about now, if it hasn’t already. The answer to my question is the right video call solutions.
See, you can use high tech physical and financial monitoring systems all you like. But the only way to be present in your business is to be present. You have to give it your time. There’s no substitute for that. Luckily, you can give your business your time from anywhere in the world. Let me take you into some of the options I explored whilst looking into how I could be there for my future business using virtual video call technology.
You might have already heard of this solution. It was hilariously presented in “The Big Bang Theory”. A popular TV show. It was labelled as a Mobile Virtual Presence Device on the show, and made for some excellent comical reflection on the uses of video calling. It also made an appearance on a television show called “Community”, in an episode depicting inmates from the local prison attending Greendale Community College via such technology. In my humble opinion, hilarity ensues. But I digress.
Briefly, you mount a screen to a stick on wheels, powered by a motor. Usually an electric one. This screen is then programmed to display your camera feed from wherever your actual location is. The wheels are programmed to move per your instructions, also from the comfort of your remote location. It seems like a far fetched idea because it’s not very common but it’s not that strange, upon reflection.
Your employees will quickly adapt to your “presence” in the form of a day-long video call (with breaks). The device itself is not insanely expensive. It’s entirely conceivable to buy one for each of your remote business locations if the locations are contributing what they should to your business's revenue. You can change the angle of your camera to look at anything in the business, from the printer usage to the cash register.
There are many ways to help employees get used to your video call presence in the business. I would suggest leaving your sound on when you’re in the remote "office", even if you’re not directly interacting with the telepresence robot. That way they can hear you puttering about in your office (or home study), they know you’re “there” and they can approach you with any potential questions at any time. Then go ahead and power up the device and take a robotic lap with your wheels around the onsite office at frequent, random intervals. In time, making casual conversation remotely and even the odd joke will seem perfectly normal.
Buying a lot of screens can be expensive. More expensive than buying a single telepresence device. But if your business location is quite small, small enough that communicating with everyone can be covered by two or three monitors, it might make more financial sense to just have those monitors installed, with the appropriate cameras mounted.
Like the telepresence robot, these monitors can help you be virtually present to all your employees in the form of a constant video call, interrupted only by regular breaks or such. In no time at all, you’ll have your team casually calling out questions to you over their shoulders before taking an action they’re unsure of, or coming over to your screen and asking you for more detailed instructions about things they don’t know enough about.
Of course, you should also offer your team the opportunity to speak with you privately. To do so simply power off all the remote screens and have your employees meet you at your Banty room. A custom, unique Banty URL, makes jumping on private video calls as easy as making them public. Take a look at all of Banty’s solutions and choose the one you think suits your needs the most.
Push comes to shove, you could program all your workplace devices to give you administrative control of your workplace's webcams and microphones, and you could show up in the corner of your screen for any of your employees whenever you want to. Whether you show as a mini-video feed or a pop-up request is up to you. I’m sure some options out there would also allow you to fully override one or all screen functions and begin a “surprise” virtual meeting with several people on full screen, or a surprise video call with one or two people in the same way, but I wouldn’t recommend that approach.
No one wants to be working at a computer or using a work issued tablet or mobile phone only to have someone interrupt their flow uncontrollably and jump in their face, let alone that someone being their boss. Worse if done straight from their screen via video call! It would make them jittery and may even affect the quality of their work. If you’re truly interested in this solution, maybe because you know a great software package that would be cheaper than buying a few monitors or telepresence robots, then I would recommend simply popping up as a video call request in people’s corners when you want a word with them.
To be completely honest, I mention this entire third possibility because ignoring its existence would be dishonest and would leave this article incomplete. It is one of the viable options I've explored, after all. But I find it a little too “Big Brother”. A tad too invasive for a happy work environment. I would much rather you chose one of the two methods explored above this one.
This concludes the video call reliant methods I explored for you to be remotely present for your businesses. And hopefully one day, for me to be remotely present for my own businesses. Write to me if you try one of these methods and I might just feature you in a blog-post or case-study! Just click on the link to my bio at the top of this article and use the email address listed there. Alternately, you could click on my bio at the bottom of this article as well. Good luck running your business remotely!