We’re all familiar with the expensive, time consuming routine of organizing a conference. Trying to find the right venue, arranging for any travel expenses, accounting for that travel time, providing amenities such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and hotel rooms; it all adds up. Even if a company is lucky enough to have all attendees in the same locale, finding the time in the workday to make a physical appearance is a collective inconvenience and, until now, a necessary evil. Video conferencing is changing the way companies all around the world are approaching meetings. If you’re not one of them, here’s a few benefits that might make you take a second look.
- Wider Reach
This really can’t be overstated. The ability to connect on a global scale from your office, instantly, would’ve been science fiction fantasy a few decades ago. This accessibility opens countless doors, from shareholders, to interviewing promising new talent remotely, to simply keeping everyone in your business connected. Russ Reynolds, CEO of Batteries Plus Bulbs, says communication is crucial to any expanding company, calling it “key” to stakeholders. Reynolds goes on to say, “the exchanging of ideas and feedback and making sure everyone is aligned toward achieving the same goals is critical.” With video conferencing, this is not only possible, but easy, and creates a culture of seamless information sharing. Big news that requires face to face delivery doesn’t have to wait for the meeting next week. Simply email in the morning and you can have a conference going by noon.
Assuming you already have a computer and the internet, you only need two things for your company to jump on board this trend. Hardware, such as webcams, and software, to utilize that hardware. There are several programs for video chatting in a casual space, and then there’s video conference software designed specifically to meet the business needs of companies. If this is something that’s going to be installed on company property, you’ll want to go with a provider that’s professional and secure, like BlueJeans. With tools like these, the legwork has basically already been done. All that’s left is to plug in your webcam and the 60 second installation of the program.
Getting started with video conferencing is a one-time fee: the cost of the equipment. The bulk of its expense is already being paid with your already existing internet connection. But while it’s easy to talk about how affordable it is to start video conferencing, the cost of sticking with physical meetings is a little more interesting. According to the estimates on The Future of Business Collaboration, hosting guests for a meeting costs businesses around $6,500 per year. Two out of state business meetings a month sounds reasonable, but the cost of that could total $150,000 annually. Those aren’t numbers any company would look forward to paying, and indeed, when companies are looking to save money, meetings are typically the first thing to go. When you replace them with video conferencing, however, all you are sacrificing is the bill.
I’m sure everyone’s heard the statistic that 93 percent of communication happens in non-verbal cues: posture, expressions, micro-expressions, gestures, use of space, and on, and on. It’s something to consider when you think about the fact that phone conferences never really competed with conference room meetings, but video conferences have, and are. For whatever reason, people simply prefer meeting face to face, maybe if only to have actual validation that your meeting partners aren’t just playing a game of solitaire on their computer screen. There is an additional sense of intimacy, though, in that everyone present will be in the comfort of their own space. No one will have the stress or distraction of being jet-lagged, trying to navigate an unfamiliar city or building. There is no acclimation period, and it brings you one step closer to having everyone at their best and most focused, with no unnecessary distractions, and will help optimize the discussions and productivity.
With new technology popping up every day, it can be hard to tell what’s going to die out tomorrow, and what’s here to stay. No one can afford to change their entire business model on a passing fad, and it would be foolish to do so on something as important as how you communicate with each other. But the effectiveness of video conferencing is clear, the risks are virtually nil, and its benefits are simply too strong to ignore. Video conferencing is quickly becoming a common tool in businesses of all sizes, and by all indications, is not only here to stay, but is going to become more prevalent. Becoming comfortable with this technology will be essential for any company that wants to remain competitive in today’s marketplace.