Have you ever considered the use of video conferencing in your business? Here is a guest post by Sarah Atkinson. Have a read.
Technology advancements in recent decades have allowed things we never thought possible once upon a time to become not only a reality, but a part of everyday life. Having a meeting with clients or colleagues across the world as if they were right there in the room with you is one of the many great advancements of technology for businesses, and the benefits that are offered with video conferencing are endless. We look at some of the key ways in which businesses can benefit from the use of this innovative technology:
No More Travelling
When you have global clients, in the past you would typically have to hop on a plane to visit them, taking 2-3 days out of your working schedule and costing the business hundreds in flights and hotel stays while you were there. Not to mention the toll this takes on your personal life, as travelling with a job can strain relationships and family life.
In the digital age, video conferencing has almost entirely eradicated the need for travelling. There may still be times when in person meetings with the client are the only option, but these occasions are gratefully now very rare, as video calls allow all parties involved to hold face to face meetings from the comfort of their own country and conference room.
The video conferencing technology available allows you to demo new products, host presentations, and share data in real time, meaning the only thing different to a typical in person meeting is the lack of hand shaking!
The money saved on travel costs coupled with the amount of time saved by not having to travel globally means productivity and profit within the business increases, and it allows for more communication with the clients or international colleagues is possible due to this. In this Phys Org article on cutting travel costs using video conferencing, it is mentioned how just a few years ago an executive of one company racked up 1 million air miles every year. Video conferencing reduced that to just 100,000 air miles per year.
Whereas meetings would have been thin on the ground before due to the time and cost constraints, you can have regular meetings on a weekly or even daily basis with teams half way across the world without batting an eyelid.
Enables Flexible Working
In today’s work environment, it is not unusual to find that companies no longer have fixed offices with teams working within between the hours of 9am and 5pm every day. As mentioned in this blog post from EasyOffices.com, today’s employees don’t all fit into the 9 to 5 working lifestyle anymore, and many businesses are finding that shedding the constraints of typical office hours and locations, productivity is improved and staff are generally happier in their jobs as they are given more freedom to just get on with it. Not only does it save the company money on the continuous running of a large office space, it also helps out the employees with their own personal costs such as commuting and childcare.
The only drawback that is still putting businesses off the idea of flexible working is the lack of communication that we are all used to. When in an office with someone, it’s easy to walk a small distance to their desk to discuss some documents you are both working on, or have a team meeting when the need arises. But when your colleagues are working from home or in offices across the country, even the globe, communication needs to be done differently.
That is where video conferencing comes in. If all team members are equip with the right technology, you can easily have team meetings, one-to-ones, or entire company meetings with the same image and audio clarity as if they were in the room with you. And with the option of data sharing across the network, team meetings never need to be the same again!
Video Conferencing vs Conference Phone Calls
Conference phone calls were the original technology leap that first allowed multi-way meetings to take place in various locations in real time. But as with any phone call, the communication is limited to voice only, with a lack of data sharing and the personal touch of being able to see the people you meet with and their body language. Then there is also the lack of quality connection and audio, making for unclear, strained exchanges which aren’t deal when you have a large team attempting to communicate on something vital. These drawbacks make phone call conferencing a secondary option, with the preferred primary option having always been traditional, ‘face to face’ meetings.
Thanks to video conferencing technology, you can get the best of both worlds. It offers the convenience of being able to make the call from the comfort of the office without any teams/clients having to travel, coupled with the age, old tradition of meeting face to face and being able to read body language and engage with the people you are meeting.
Facial expressions and body language are especially key in situations where you may be pitching to a new or old client, as reactions to what you say give you the cues needed to take your pitch in the right direction. If the client is looking unsure about a specific part of your pitch, then you know you need to sell that a little harder, likewise if the client seems particularly intrigued by a specific mention, you know that’s what will seal the deal.
Without face to face communication, none of this could be achieved, and as HR consultant Barbara Richman mentions in her article for The Business Journals here, it doesn’t have to be an in-person meeting to be personal, with many video conferencing software and hardware options available to businesses in the digital age.
Added Competitive Advantage For SMBs
According to this video from LifeSize, a division of Logitech, video conferencing can give small to medium businesses competitive advantage over larger companies, as they can reach more people that without the technology would have previously been unavailable to them. This means they can assemble teams in other countries and manage them with much lower costs than before, as well as being able to acquire and retain contracts globally with the help of video conferencing to cut travel and communication costs without cutting the benefits of face to face meetings.
Video conferencing is no longer the daunting, expensive and futuristic technology that it was once perceived to be. Many businesses are finding that in the digital age, utilising the technology available will not only give them the competitive advantage but will also help them cut costs while keeping clients and colleagues happy, and creating an altogether more productive and profitable way of working.
Sarah is a marketing professional that is currently working with serviced office provider Easy Offices.