Video conferencing is increasingly adopted by organizations as they move towards digital transformation, flex work, and agility. Here, telepresence is one of the fastest growing communication mediums, with a 19.1% compound annual growth rate, and a Gartner Magic Quadrant highlight as one of the most important technologies of 2020. But, what makes video conferencing so important for organizations?
While results and benefits will significantly vary depending on the quality of video conferencing tools, setup inside the organization, and how your organization works, video conferencing normally provides a direct and measurable benefit to employees.
Traditional meetings require individuals plan well in advance to accommodate travel, showing up to a single room in person, and spending a significant amount of time in that space. Switching to video conferencing allows you to digitize some or all meetings or some participants, making scheduling significantly easier. For example, your busiest employees can quickly schedule meetings to fit into short time slots where they might not be in the office, not in the building, or even in another office.
Removing the need to travel or be physically present can double or even quadruple the availability of employees, making it significantly easier for a few people to quickly get together and talk.
Depending on your organization this may boost attendance for existing meetings, may improve meeting satisfaction, or may increase the number of quick meetings where teams or multiple teams spend time discussing ideas, concepts, or problems before moving forward with issues.
The largest benefit for employees? Convenience. They don’t have to align available time with everyone based on a 2-hour window to include travel, but can instead call in from anywhere, even if it’s for 20-30 minutes instead of a full formal meeting.
Most organizations spend a significant sum on business travel, to the point where the global business travel industry is valued at $1.6 trillion. In fact, business travelers make up some 12% of all flights. This trend is only set to increase as organizations outsource to cheaper countries or to countries with more access to needed talent. Multi-state and international organizations ask a lot from team members who need to travel to maintain communication. Many have to leave family and friends for one or more days per month (and sometimes per week), are not typically reimbursed for all of this time (only working business hours), and typically asked to stay in hotels or company apartments.
Even skipping shorter distances, such as driving to an out-of-office state will save employees significantly in terms of time-investment. While you can’t trade every face-to-face conversation for a video conference, you can trade most of them, freeing up valuable work hours for hours employees will likely spend with family and friends instead. This improves work-life balance and therefore job and life satisfaction, resulting in happier employees.
It’s also important to note that organizations save on travel reimbursement, travel costs, overtime, lodging, and any costs associated with C02 offset.
Most organizations are increasingly investing in efforts to improve communication through efforts like digital transformation. Video conferencing carries many of the same benefits of face-to-face communication in that individuals can communicate using body language and facial expressions, rather than voice-only or chat only, with professionals in nonverbal language such as Albert Mehrabian stating that body language can be a significant factor in correctly interpreting and understanding others.
Introducing video conferencing as a standard over voice calls or chat and email-only communication for remote teams can greatly improve relationships, how communication is perceived, and how well people understand each other.
This will, in turn, improve communication across teams and offices, because individuals have more context and more room for communication. While you don’t have to involve video in every conversation, making sure employees have regular face-to-face contact even over video ensures they keep each other’s personalities, response patterns, and emotional responses in mind when communicating. Improved communication also results in improved productivity because communication is clearer, people spend less time misunderstanding each other, and are more able to connect and collaborate.
Flex work is one of the fastest growing trends for any industry capable of offering it but managing productivity and maintaining team collaboration and communication can be difficult. Integrating video conferencing tools to allow teams to hold virtual meetings or to allow individuals to call in to meetings can greatly increase the flexibility of your workplace.
How? Flex work is often about allowing individuals to take on family and life responsibilities during working hours, so they can take a few hours off in the afternoon to go to their child’s game and then work in the evening. They can work from home a few days a week to watch kids or pets. They can work from home at will to wait on packages or to allow plumbers to do work. And they can work in schedules that best fit them, such as coming to work earlier or later and leaving the same amount of time later or leaving work sooner and finishing up at home so they can manage kids.
Flexible schedules greatly benefit work-life balance and increase employee satisfaction, but they can make meetings difficult. Home video conferencing tools reduce these conflicts, because anyone working from home or another location can simply call in.
Video conferencing is becoming more important as organizations increasingly adopt remote work, freelancers, and flex-work styles. Integrating them can improve communication while greatly benefiting employees, resulting in happier and more productive teams. At the same time, it’s crucial that any tools your organization implements maintain a standard of quality and ease of use, or people won’t use them.
In addition, you’ll want to ensure individuals have access to quality conferencing tools from home or wherever they might be working and that everyone knows how to use those tools. In most cases, this means implementing a policy to choose similar or the same tools across the organization, using central management tools to ensure ease of use and IT support, and offering workshops and training so that everyone knows how to use new tools.
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Video conferencing benefits the organization and its employees by saving time, improving the efficiency of communication, and improving collaboration.