The Visual Handoff: Using Video to Prepare for Time Off

Whether it’s creating a quick “how-to” video or annotating screenshots, visual communication is a quick and easy way to help employees prepare for that essential time off.

It’s finally here. That well-deserved vacation, a baby on the way, or the long-awaited retirement you thought you’d never see. While these memorable moments should bring nothing but joy and excitement to your life, they also can present headaches and stresses at work. Yes, many companies provide guidelines or responsibilities to help employees hand off tasks to co-workers in their absences, but sharing institutional knowledge in a clear, effective way can be a challenge to put into words. To combat this communication gap, many businesses are turning to video to capture and share knowledge. Whether it’s creating a quick “how-to” video or annotating screenshots, visual communication is a quick and easy way to help you prepare for that essential time off, without missing a beat.

Securing Intellectual Property

Many people come in and out of your office doors, so it can be hard to freeze the current knowledge at any point in time. But capturing a bit of that individual magic can be easy with video, and is a surefire way to account for valuable employees leaving—and ramping up their replacements when the time is right. This can become especially important when trying to capture the institutional knowledge of vital employees who are preparing for retirement. To start, pick out the co-worker who is particularly good at something and request he or she record a video. Screencasting is one option, and a fairly simple one. It allows you to easily record items on your screen, such as presentation slides, tutorials, and particular desktop applications. Audio narration and annotation also can be included, which will grab your audience’s attention and keep them interested long enough to catch the call to action at the end. The investment is little and the benefit plentiful, saving both cost and time for all involved.

Preparing to Be OOO

Having employees in and out of the office during summer months is a challenge faced by companies of all sizes. But before you can enjoy your time in the sun, buttoning up work projects is a top to-do. For those who can’t fathom writing up an extensive list of their everyday jobs, video is the answer; it’s simple and is an easy way for others to satisfy their information needs, without feeling overwhelmed by pages upon pages of text. Before you jump into creating the actual video though, develop an outline—keep it short and sweet—that you can check once, twice, or even three times, to ensure you’ve captured everything that needs to be transitioned. This also will help curtail you saying too much—especially since the optimal length for instructional videos is one to three minutes—and will give you the opportunity to prioritize what’s important and what simply needs to get done. The brain responds to, and retains information best, when it is presented visually, so your coworkers are sure to appreciate the added effort.

Be There, Even When You Can’t Be There

Even though a bopping bundle of joy is what it’s all about, it’s not easy to hand over the reins of your job for up to three months when you head out on maternity leave. If you’re in a management role, things can become especially stressful as you plan who on your team can absorb client relationships, expertise-related responsibilities, mentorship, and the like. As you prepare a list of your core duties, divide them into buckets that then can become individual videos. You may create a list, too, but video is an easy way to capture detail without diving too deep into process. Plus, you can target specifically whoever has been delegated to take on your responsibilities. Since videos are an effective and engaging way to communicate, your co-workers will feel as if you’re there and supporting them, and you can feel comfortable knowing if your co-workers have questions, they can review the video anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

Where to Host Your Videos

So your videos are created and you’re ready to take your time away from the office, but where should you put the content so your investment pays off? Just be intuitive about your co-workers’ habits. Where do they go most often to get their information? Maybe it’s SharePoint or a wiki or your company’s intranet. Regardless, note that it’s less about platform and more about traffic. Above all else, host your videos in a place that’s easy to get to. If and when you come back to the office, you’re sure to be greeted with smiling faces for saving everyone else time, energy and maybe even a sigh of frustration or two.

Matt Pierce is integrated marketing manager for video and social media at TechSmith Corp., a software company that provides practical business and academic solutions that change how people communicate and collaborate across devices. A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Education’s Department of Instructional Systems Technology, Pierce has 10 years of experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training and user assistance teams for TechSmith, and also has run its visual communication Web show, The Forge, interviewing guests from around the world discussing the use of visuals, video, and technology in education, training, marketing, and more. Teach him something @piercemr.