Good communication is essential for any business, but if you've got a diverse workforce spread across the world, how can you be sure your people are keeping in touch as effectively as possible?
The answer is video conferencing. For some years, this had something of a poor reputation for many businesses, who may have been put off by worries of interrupted streaming or having difficulties getting everyone's hardware and applications to work smoothly together. But this is no longer the case.
Video conferencing is now an essential part of any business, and if you're still stuck in old ways of thinking, or haven't looked at these technologies in a number of years, you're missing out on a huge range of productivity and cost benefits.
Here are four reasons why you should be using video conferencing if you haven't done so already.
1. Better communication
We've all heard that big parts of communication are non-verbal. Indeed, one famously-quoted stat claims some 55% of communication is achieved through body language. So if you're relying on audio-only calls you won't even know how much you're missing out on!
There’s all sorts of research that highlights how visual communication improves recollection compared with auditory discussions, and it also ensures you're better able to get your meaning across. Beyond that, it also helps people have better, more productive discussions - especially in group environments.
Anyone who's spent time on a long audio conference call with multiple participants will know how confusing they can get. Without visual cues, it's easy for people to talk over one another, while it's also harder for people to be certain who's speaking at any given time, especially if they aren't hugely familiar with the sound of their voice. Video eliminates all these issues.
2. Better engagement
As well as making communication itself easier, video also helps ensure that everyone involved in a discussion can stay engaged. Indeed, one study by Lifesize reports that more than 40% of businesses improved engagement through this technology.
As well as the obvious advantage of visual aids that can grab people's attention - whether on the camera itself or via screen-sharing presentations and graphics - being able to see your participants helps you maintain focus on what's being said.
Part of this is down to etiquette. On a video call, everyone can see if you're looking down to doodle in your notebook or getting distracted by the person on the opposite desk, where they wouldn't on a phone. But also, being able to make eye contact with the other person keeps your attention fixed. Without a visual focus, it's easy for the eye to stray to the window or your computer screen - and where the eye wanders, the mind quickly follows.
3. Keep teams connected
Video tools also ensure you can make better personal connections with people you otherwise wouldn't have direct contact with. This is especially vital for larger enterprises where the workforce is spread over multiple offices or even different countries.
Frequent video conferencing lets you put faces to names and build more of a rapport than you'd get from instant messaging or emailing, and also ensures that people who work remotely don't feel isolated from the business, as they can more easily play a full role in discussions and strategizing.
4. Save time and money
Video conferencing gives you many of the benefits of a face-to-face meeting without the hassle or costs. Think about how much time your employees spend on trains, planes or roads traveling to and from meetings when that time could be spent much more productively - not to mention the huge cost of these trips.
According to one study, firms could save over $33,000 per year in travel tickets, hotel bills, and food expenses by using video conferencing. There’s also the environmental impact to consider - in today's society, firms that show they're cutting down on activities like air travel tend to benefit the most by appealing to more socially-conscious consumers.
Ultimately, if you can't be there in person, video conferencing is the next best thing. With the right solutions - offering lag-free HD streaming, easy screen sharing, and document collaboration - you can ensure you’re not missing out on any great ideas your team may have, no matter where they are.