Immigration Practice News

October 2012 (Vol. 4, No. 1)

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Video Conferencing Can W by Mareza I. Estevez and Maryann Palazzo Instead, manage conflicting workloads and maintain your professional presence by staying connected via technology. Fostering effective communication has become much easier with the explosion and improvement of technology. hen personal/work life balance, health, weather, or other factors converge to create havoc with your work plans—don't panic. As in-house counsel of a Fortune 500 technology company with offices worldwide, we use traditional audio and electronic mail devices to organize, participate in, and conduct conference calls. One of our favorite methods of staying connected is video teleconferencing (VTC). VTC has become indispensable in facilitating close working ties with colleagues thousands of miles away and in supporting work-from-home flexibility. Increased visibility also fosters greater transparency and accountability, improving collaboration. Through VTC, we put faces to voices, observe expressions and mannerisms that add to the communication, and create a highly interactive and collaborative work environment. Accents that were previously impenetrable in a voice-only call become comprehensible. Colleagues who seemed oblique in their voice-only or written communications were better able to present their views and make contributions. It's the next best thing to being physically present. Our company has selected video conference devices that are easy to install and to use at the office, at home, or while traveling. We have Help You Stay Connected flat screen video conferencing devices in almost every conference room at our offices, as well as individual stand-alone devices for remote and home office usage. Connecting with our colleagues via these devices is an everyday occurrence. For maximum flexibility, VTCs frequently have a number of on-screen video participants as well as voice-only participants who dial into the calls. Additionally, VTC facilitates the sharing of documents for presentations and can be easily connected to laptops to enable jointly working on worksheets, documents, and shared screens. For those new to video teleconferencing, here are some helpful hints: Competent tech support is key; setting-up and maintaining VTC networks and getting a single call to work will require know-how. It is important that entire groups be conversant in the use of the technology so that it becomes second nature. Just as e-mail may transmit a tone or meaning that you did not intend in your writing, VTC can similarly mis-transmit unintended messages through facial expression, body language, and the condition on your on-screen appearance or your background (especially for at-home VTC!). As you acclimate to VTC, you may wish to monitor your on-screen appearance by keeping your self-view on-screen to check your non-verbal presentation. Consider coaching to work on soſt-skills, e.g., posture, non-verbal cues, presence, mannerisms, etc. Sometimes the lighting in your office may result in your appearing overly harried or tired. Also, you should guard your at-home privacy if you use VTC. Since incoming VTC are automatically connected, keep your camera lens covered, lest you be caught at an awkward moment by your colleagues. While the majority of our present VTC meetings are conducted with internal colleagues, this method of communicating is also ideal to engage with external legal advisors, partners, and vendors. VTC and cloud- powered technology enables collaboration virtually regardless of geography. To survive in this new age of technology, organizations and law firms alike must embrace new management methods and tools to succeed in a virtual work environment. Mareza I. Estevez ("Rez") and Maryann Palazzo serve as lead in-house immigration counsel to Cognizant Technology Solutions. www.aila.org 5

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