When economies around the world were shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses turned to video conferencing applications to sustain operations. Yet while this may have initially been seen as a short-term solution, many companies – especially those that may have been apprehensive at first about this technology – are seemingly ebullient over its functionality. Since more organisations will inevitably develop work-from-home strategies as a result, it's fair to assume that video conferencing will become even more prevalent.
Even before the public health crisis, there was still a gradual adoption of video conferencing. Indeed, the enterprise video market was forecast to balloon into a $23bn industry before COVID-19, with this figure now likely to have grown massively in the meantime. According to studies, many corporate users say that it increases productivity, saves time on project completion, and facilitates team collaboration. Overall, the use of video conferencing in business has made remote work easier to perform during both the best of times and the worst of times.
Still unconvinced? To help, we have compiled a detailed breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of video conferencing in business, to help determine if it’s the right approach for your organisation. Let's explore.
Spend Less, Save More
One thing that we are learning in today's world is that much of the money we spend on travelling to conferences, seminars and meetings in other cities and countries is unnecessary. In a lot of cases, many of these encounters can be conducted remotely via software such as Zoom or Skype. This isn't always the case, of course, but studies have discovered that video conferencing is a more than healthy alternative.
In the end, video conferencing allows you to spend less to do business and save more when you are keeping in touch with customers, employees and contacts.
Stay Productive During Uncertainty
Let's be honest: there is plenty of uncertainty in the global economy right now. When considering everything from air travel to social distancing guidelines, who knows what life is going to be like six months from now? Unfortunately, if there is one thing the private sector detests, it is uncertainty.
Therefore, amid the myriad of unknowns, it can be hard for businesses – large and small – to function. When you desire to maintain a well-oiled machine, video conferencing can be a tool in your arsenal to ensure everyone is staying connected and remaining productive should the brick-and-mortar workplace be closed down.
Collaborate with Staff
It may be counterintuitive, but video conferencing can facilitate enhanced collaboration with staff.
When you comb through the myriad of testimonials on vendor products, you tend to find plenty of praise over how the app in question improves communication and supports teamwork. But there are plenty of other advantages, too, including document sharing, project coordination and even idea creation. For instance, since everyone is behind their computer simultaneously, team members can immediately share and work on the same document, which can be somewhat challenging to do in an office setting.
Staff collaboration is only improved upon with enterprise video when everything is disrupted.
How can you build connections over a scheduled online stream? Well, video conferencing offers a comparable face-to-face experience by putting a face to a voice. At a time when many people are no longer close, video conferencing fills the void and makes colleagues and clients feel more intimate, even if it's over a fibre optic cable and a high-definition computer monitor.
Take Your Business Global
Previously, a small company would have little chance of competing on the global stage. The internet has changed all of that, as now any business can attempt to make a play for customers all around the world. Video conferencing is just one of the many digital tools at your disposal to achieve this, allowing you to grow your international footprint through discussions with customers or professionals anywhere on the planet.
Recent surveys have found that people who are working from home have been happier and more productive. Instead of navigating through the concrete jungle, spending two hours each day commuting and sitting in a cubicle, professionals can spend more time doing their job in the comfort of their home.
In an era where employee retention rates are under the microscope, one of the benefits of video conferencing is that companies can keep their staff satisfied through telecommuting.
Video Conferencing Fatigue
Have you ever heard of something called 'Zoom fatigue'? This is apparently a real thing that has occurred in the aftermath of the public health crisis. People are becoming exhausted after entire days of talking into a camera and participating in video conferencing.
Indeed, according to Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy in the Harvard Business Review, this phenomenon is becoming increasingly apparent, with the term gaining huge traction on Google Trends throughout March and April.
Therefore, the more you use enterprise video apps, the greater the risk of having employees feel burned out and dejected due to the additional focus required by video conferencing. Think of it this way: in a physical meeting, you could always look out the window momentarily. In a Zoom meeting, though, this is impossible because it makes it look like you are either not paying attention, or that you're bored.
Even if the company or the worker has the most reliable and up-to-date equipment, an internet connection can always falter. When this happens, everything gets delayed and pushed back, causing frustration and confusion. This possibly explains why every job advertisement you may have seen of late demands that you have a stellar internet connection.
Unfortunately, not everyone is accustomed to using a video conferencing service. This is not only an age problem, as many young people can find it difficult to utilise the software, too. Overall, if you are incorporating video conferencing into your new workplace regimen, it will require employee training. This is imperative because you want everybody on the same page. At the same time, this can trigger headaches because now it demands scheduling, resource allocation and heightened management.
It is said that most of our communication is non-verbal, meaning that we use body language and gesticulation to convey our message. Sure, you can see the other person on camera, but you cannot always recreate physical face-to-face communication. Experts recommend doing elementary things, like hand gestures or smiling at the camera to remove some of the awkwardness and formalities.
In this new normal, telecommuting is – and will continue to be – more of a rule rather than an exception. Despite it being a requirement in the modern-day workplace, your company can still determine if video conferencing is right for you.
So, how can you determine if this type of technology is viable for your team? Well, there are some aspects to consider, such as if you have priority clients who are out of your vicinity, if you have staff who perform a lot of work-related travel, or if your company's information technology infrastructure is up-to-date.
One thing is for sure, though: video conferencing is the future of work. Are you prepared?