How video conferencing is reducing business travel and increasing productivity

Employees consistently rely on video conferencing in daily operations. Here are the biggest benefits.

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Video conferencing technologies are staples in today's workplace, fundamentally changing internal and external company communications, reported Lifesize in its 2019 Impact of Video Conferencing report. Technological advances are significantly impacting corporate culture, making remote work and flexible schedules the new norm

The report surveyed more than 1,300 business professionals across age groups and industries to determine the influence of video conferencing in the modern workforce. More than half (55%) of companies that use video conferencing said they are more collaborative, and 50% said they are more innovative. 

SEE: Microsoft Teams: The right collaboration platform for your organization? (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

"Corporate lifestyle used to be built around the traditional 9-to-5 job—executives were always in the office or on the road for face-to-face meetings, and flexibility was limited," said Craig Malloy, CEO of Lifesize. "However, we're seeing a broad lifestyle shift away from the days of frequent flying and in-person meetings being a necessity. Companies of all sizes are opting for more casual work environments, collaborative cultures and flexible meeting structures, where employees can work from anywhere across the globe at any time—all enabled by technology." 

Remote work has grown by 159% since 2005, as employees prefer the affordability and convenience of remote work over traditional working styles. Video conferencing has played a major role in this shift, the report found, with 51% of employees reportedly taking video calls in their home offices. 

The most frequently used video conferencing services included Skype, enterprise cloud video solutions (BlueJeans, Lifesize, Zoom, etc.), Google Hangouts, WebEx, and GoToMeeting, the report found.

Biggest benefits

1. Healthier work-life balance

"In today's technology-powered workplace, the corporate lifestyle can now mean flexible hours, variable locations and less jet-setting—resulting in better work/life balance," said Malloy. "Increasingly, companies let employees work from anywhere and everywhere, and even adjust their work hours to accommodate their home life needs, personal commitments and periods of peak productivity." 

This flexibility prevents employees from becoming burnt out, which is one of the top reasons people quit their jobs. Major factors that contribute to burnout include workplace stress, heavy workload, and low job satisfaction—all of which can be mediated through flexible work styles. The report found that video conferencing helps with this effort, with 43% of employees reportedly using video to work remotely or from home. 

2. Less business travel

"I can avoid traveling to a meeting because of video conferencing technology," said Paul Harrold, vice president of collaboration at PCM. "Often times meetings require several individuals from different locations to attend and coordinating travel can prove to be challenging and costly."

Some 33% of workers said video conferencing technology reduces their business travel, the report found, allowing them to easily conduct meetings without making expensive, time-consuming trips.  

This flexibility is also seen in the hiring process, said Shawn Dickerson, senior vice president of marketing at KeyedIn, as top talent doesn't have to travel across the country to be hired. 

"When I don't feel tied to a geographic area or office space, I feel the flexibility to hire the top candidate, even if they're remote—because I know tools like video conferencing have eliminated much of the risk previously associated with virtual teams," Dickerson said. "Today my weekly team meetings regularly feature team members connecting from 10+ different locations across North America and Europe." 

3. Better productivity and collaboration

More than 40% of companies said video conferencing has made their employees more engaged, the report said. Video conferencing was cited as being used most for 1:1 meetings (80%), team meetings/stand ups (78%), large group meetings/company town halls (77%), customer/partner meetings (62%). 

Additionally, 43% of respondents said video conferencing has improved team productivity when in different locations, the report added. 

Future of video conferencing

Video conferencing will begin to shift from being an advantage, to a necessity, the report found. Nearly 50% of respondents cited a spike in video usage at work in the past two years alone. 

"The future of video conferencing will bring more ubiquity of the technology category," Malloy noted. "As preferences and expectations of younger generations entering the workforce take hold, video conferencing will become the new normal over voice calls and will continue to replace costly cross-country or cross-globe travel for in-person meetings."

Respondents said they believe that video conferencing will be equally, or more, important than voice assistants (69%), automation/robotics (55%), and artificial intelligence (AI) (51%) in the future. 

"As video communication and artificial intelligence rise in parallel importance, we will also see more AI and machine learning integrated into meetings, helping us analyze the wealth of data springing from them, connect across language and cultural barriers, and more effectively approach the quantifiable workplace," Malloy said.

For more, check out How to make and receive Skype calls on the web on TechRepublic.

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Woman doing a video call

Image: iStockphoto/Ridofranz