Thursday, 16 February 2017

Going Live!

Recently I've noticed a number of incidents in my personal, professional and sporting lives linked to live video. In all the cases it was Facebook Live but the principle applies across all social media. In this blog I'll discuss my observations and the implications I see for the workplace. 

The only one of the events to get national media coverage was the Antonio Brown incident HERE. Brown went Live at a half time team talk and got into trouble for it. He apologised and said he let his emotions get the better of him and didn't think, and was trying to share a moment with fans. In this case he was sharing a video of what was his own workplace, an American Football team, and so breached all kinds of privacy rules. 

The other incidents are closer to home for me. Two are sport related. Both of these involved drunken groups of players and fans celebrating well earned victories but in both cases someone on the live video, not the person filming and whose account it was broadcast from, said some very offensive and discriminatory remarks. Both live streams were stopped and the post deleted, and the account holder apologised in both cases. In one case, the person who made the remark was banned by the sports governing body. In the other case both the person who made the remark AND the account holder / filmer were both banned by the governing body. The account holder is particularly aggrieved because they had nothing to do with the remark, deleted the post and apologised immediately, but they've been banned for bringing the sport into disrepute by even going Live in the first place because of the potential risks. 

The third case is a more personal one where a friend got into trouble for repeatedly going live on nights out and getting some of his other friends into trouble with their respective partners, having caught them chatting away to other women. In this case there is very much a blurred line and I think all parties are in the wrong but it opens up a can of worms about the use of Live video in the workplace.  

I've only ever gone live twice, both times at conferences where I was blogging but couldn't capture the intensity of the speech I was listening to. The first time a man fainted as I pressed Live so I stopped, not wanting to be live for such an event. The second time passed without incident but I felt guilty that I was broadcasting, for free, something the organisers had rightly wanted people to pay to attend. So I stopped. Although I don't mind anyone live streaming any talk I do, it hasn't happened yet as far as I know. 

This has major implications for the workplace though. What would you do if an employee went Live during a meeting? It could potentially breach all kinds of privacy rules and confidential information so you can rely upon that, but what if no confidential information is being broadcast? What if it's something like an away day or a whole company briefing by the Chief Executive like a rallying cry? 

The employee may be sharing it for those other employees not present and to give an insight into the company they work for. It may even help the employer brand that they do so. But it might not. Would the people speaking behave differently if they thought they were being broadcast? I'd hope not as authenticity is very important no matter what the context. And you shouldn't say or do anything to any group that you wouldn't be comfortable being broadcast to a wider audience, so most leaders will be OK in that regard. 

But what if the broadcast reveals something unsightly about the workplace, it's culture and its leaders? I can imagine it could just do that. 

What if a site like Glassdoor suddenly offers the ability for employees at a company to go live anonymously? 

I think they should. 

Live video offers no hiding place for anyone. But if you've got something to hide, that says more about you than it does live video. 

I can see usage becoming widespread in sport both from fans and players. I can also see it becoming more common, if not quite widespread, in employment. 

Consider a Live broadcast by an employee secretly filming a manager bullying a colleague.  Who is in the wrong here?  The filmer by breaching workplace rules and privacy?  The manager for bullying?  Or the organisation for allowing this to take place?  Who gets disciplined?  Who suffers?

Of course, some things HAVE to be confidential but if no statement has been made about that then is the subsequent discussion fair game? I think it probably is. 

It means the lines between what happens in the workplace and what is seen by the outside world will become very blurred indeed. 

Is that a good thing? If you're a great employer with fantastic leaders in an amazing workplace, yes it is. If you're not, be prepared for more people to find out about that. 

What issues do you see? Do you see it as a good thing or not? And can we do anything about it, even if we wanted to? 

Till next time… 

Gary 

PS in other news, my son (15) has his first girlfriend and bought his first valentines present this week. I suddenly felt very old and am not quite sure what, if anything, to do.