5 Great Uses for Video Conferencing in the Workplace

Published: 16th January 2012
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Video conferencing as a tool is proving its worth across many sectors of society from the medical arena to education to personal and social communications, but perhaps the most significant driver in its development is its use and value within business. Where it helps to make companies more efficient and therefore profitable, business will in turn invest in greater innovation. So what are the main reasons for business to invest in Video Conferencing.

The technology has a number of overarching benefits whatever context it is used in:
  • It reduces the need for travel and therefore the wasted time and expense for the business, as well as the morale of staff.

  • It provides instant visual communication and exchange of information rather than the wait for people to travel between locations to meet.

  • It allows participants to convey and infer more information about the other participants through body language cues.

  • It can, when employed as part of a Unified Communications strategy, display and demonstrate content in emails, in presentations and on computer screens whilst the participants of a meeting are discussing it and therefore allow users to show information rather than just tell.

Meeting Across Office Locations
Very few businesses, outside of small enterprises, work from a single office location. With geographical expansion and the mergers and acquisitions that are common place in all industry sectors, many organisations find themselves with work sites spread across the country and the rest of the world. When there is the need for workers on different sites to convene, for example in the case of regular meetings between the senior managers across locations, it can be a logistical and financial headache. However, the implementation of video conferencing means that participants are able to mimic the face to face interaction of such meetings without having to leave their desk, therefore saving the business the considerable expense of regular inter-office travel.

Working From Home
As more work becomes electronically based and remote access security improves with the use of technologies such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) used to connect straight into office networks, working from home is seen as an effective way of reducing costs in business, increasing morale and productivity and accessing the best talent in the industry. Especially with more specialised jobs where the talent pool is spread across greater distances, video conferencing can be an integral communication tool to help home employees work at full capacity, attending meetings as if they were physically in the office and holding virtual face-to-face conversations with their colleagues.

Meeting Clients/Supplies Anywhere in the World
As communication technology advances, the world appears smaller and businesses are increasingly looking for trading opportunities in far flung corners of the world. With business relationships stretching across the globe, video conferencing can be an integral tool in communicating with clients or suppliers, for example allowing companies to literally present ideas and pitches to prospective client without the expense of flying across the world to do so.

In existing business relationships, the more feedback that a company has on how happy their counterpart is the better able they are to successfully manage that relationship. Communicating through video conferences provides the additional visual cues that wouldn't be available through email or phone conversations.

Working on the Move
Where travel is necessary and unavoidable the time spent doing so need not be wasted as virtual offices can not only be run from remote locations but now on the move. The growth of WiFi availability and the drastic uptake in Smartphones in the last few years means that employees can easily communicate with their office wherever they are. Video conferencing is a particular growth area for mobile communications and workers can now take part in video calls, witnessing, for example presentations, even if they are sat in an airport departure lounge.

Making Business More Accessible
Any technology that provides another medium through which people can communicate will almost by definition increase the access that disabled employees have to business functions.

The traditional solution for meetings where the participants can't be in the same location is that of conference calling, but for the hard of hearing this may not be an option and they would therefore be excluded from taking part. However, using video conferencing, information can still be displayed to them and if possible sign language can be employed to translate the discussions. Even, on a one to one basis video conferencing with sign language can be used to replace traditional telephone calls.

For those with mobility issues video conferencing allows them to take part in meetings which utilise all of the benefits of video conferencing across different locations whereas they may have had to decline face to face meetings in the past. By improving the accessibility of communications in the workplace businesses can unlock more of the potential in their workforce and therefore, as well as making the workforce feel more valued and empowered, they can make more efficient use of their resources.

Whilst many businesses are yet to deploy video conferencing in their organisations it is still a growing market place and a developing technology which reliably delivers efficiency savings for those businesses that do adopt it. Therefore, if your business is a prime candidate to benefit from any of the above uses of video conferencing - or videoconferencing as it is often referred to - there is no better time to investigate how it could form part of your unified communications strategy and boost the efficiency of your organisation.

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