Video conferencing has been limited by high costs and network latency. Yet, tech-savvy employees demand the latest tools to support professional efficiency. Companies implementing this new tech quickly experience the benefits of video conferencing.
Initially, video conferencing was used simply to reduce travel costs. Now, the benefits of video conferencing are far-reaching. Working together has never been easier. Greater knowledge of the benefits of collaboration is fueling the growth of video conferencing. The promise of video conferencing is to have:
- Improved communication
- Better business relationships
- Greater meetings
- Employee satisfaction
- Improved competitive edge
The benefits of video conferencing all revolve around one key point: We move faster towards our goals when we can see and interact with the people we’re working with.
Growing Demand for Video Conferencing
Today, the growing demand for video conferencing is making it broadly available. It’s critical to many companies’ collaboration strategies. Video conferencing systems run the gamut from basic desktops housed in huddle rooms to sophisticated telepresence suites. Thanks to more reliable tech and lower prices, video conferencing is becoming a core enterprise collaboration tool.1
Not long ago, VC failure rates were high. Calls failed 30% to 40% of the time on a regular basis. Companies even reported failure rates of up to 70%.2 As they say, we’ve come a long way, baby. A steady stream of new tech has hugely improved usability. In 2015, 95% of users in one survey said video conferencing has reliability improved. 92% said it was also easier to use.3 Along with greater reliability, total cost of ownership is dropping.
Benefits of Video Conferencing
Cost/demand trends and ease of use are placing the benefits of video conferencing within reach of more businesses. What we know about collaboration has influenced the rise of video conferencing.
Analysts say increased demand for video conferencing has two additional factors: remote employees and millennials. These workers thrive when provided with feature-rich, easy-to-use tools. Because of this, VC deployments and usage have grown massively.4
Between 2013 and 2015, VC use grew by 87%. Of the companies surveyed, 71% added more VC rooms during those two years.5 Predictions call for a conferencing services market growth rate of 4.1% between 2014 and 2021. This puts the market in a phase of rapid and ongoing transition.6
Sure, employees have always talked to one another. What we now know is that collaborative, team-focused work environments deliver incredible business advantages. Among the many research-demonstrated benefits, video collaboration has been shown to7,8:
- Move a company more effectively towards its goals
- Foster creativity and learning
- Blend complementary skills, strengths and perspectives
- Build trust; encourage equal participation
- Develop a strong sense of purpose
- Enhance employee development
- Teach conflict resolution skills
- Promote a wider sense of ownership
- Encourage partnership/joint efforts
- Deliver faster problem solving and increased innovation
- Create an efficient pace of work (the “divide and conquer” principle)
- Improve job satisfaction and employee retention
Top Benefits of Video Conferencing
Reducing travel is considered VC’s main advantage. However, the benefits of video conferencing are much more far-reaching. In fact, the least tangible benefits of VC make the biggest impact. One big benefit of video conferencing is it reduces the amount of time wasted in meetings. In a survey of 4,700 users, the top benefits of video conferencing were cited as9:
- Increased efficiency and productivity – 94%
- Increased impact of discussions – 88%
- Expedited decision-making – 87%
- Reduced travel – 87%
Here are some of the main reasons companies are using video conferencing more than ever before:
1. Cost Savings
Travel costs add up quickly. Hold a video call and you eliminate costs for employee transportation, hotels and meals. Customer entertainment expenses disappear. VC is far less costly.
Bottom line cost benefits of video conferencing: Reducing travel costs for just one employee far outweighs the expense of a VC system that can be used by the entire company.10
2. Improved Productivity and Optimized Operations
Yes, you can be in two places at once — several, actually. And it’s all thanks to VC. The implications for productivity are huge.11 Reduced travel requirements help key employees maximize their time. Holding video calls with customers and partners around the world boosts productivity.
Video calls reduce the misunderstandings that come from email and phone calls. With video conferencing, facial expression and body language deliver a more complete message. VC participants are also more likely to speak up and clarify information. Finally, video conferencing participants are more likely to stay alert and focused when viewed by coworkers.
Bottom line productivity benefits of video conferencing: VC maximizes your human resources. It increases efficiency and productivity. Projects can be completed faster and participants feel more in sync with each other and the meeting objectives.
3. Improved Efficiency
Visual cues bring a level of efficiency not possible with audio calls. Because of this, participants get a lot more done via video conference. You can display mockups, demo products, or impresspotential customers. Proponents admit it’s even more efficient than face-to-face meetings because when everyone’s in the same room, discussions can easily get off track.
With VC, tight time constraints and remote call-ins can facilitate a more focused discussion with less side chatter.12 Plus, when participants can be seen by colleagues, focus and contribution is higher. With sight-unseen phone calls, participants give in to the temptation of their smartphone or laptop.
Bottom line efficiency benefits of video conferencing: Seeing one another boosts efficiency — more interaction, less distraction.
4. Rapid Outreach
Have something you need to communicate right away? Convene a video conference. With VC there’s no need to get all the key players in one place. Whether it’s demoing the latest product design, delivering critical information, or setting goals, quotas, deadlines or strategic changes, you can do it all and with the added visual impact that’s missing from a phone conference.
Bottom line outreach benefits of video conferencing: VC lets you get critical info to key personnel with added impact.
5. Increased Employee Satisfaction and its Benefits
Happy, healthy employees are productive employees. VC helps with both. Frequent travel takes a physical and emotional toll. Replacing with video calls results in greater health and job satisfaction. In turn, this boosts performance and productivity and also helps reduce job turnover.
Telecommuting is on the rise. Working remotely translates into employee satisfaction. VC supports work-life balance. In 2015, 44% of business professionals had telecommuted at some point.13 Between 2005 – 2016, work-at-home time increased by 103%.14 Research shows telecommuters are just as productive as in-office employees.15 Workers with the option to work remotely are happier, healthier and more efficient.16
Bottom line employee benefits of video conferencing: Employees who travel less and VC more are healthier, happier and more productive. Office flexibility also brings significant cost savings. One study reported an annual savings of $11,000 per person per year when workers could work from home 50% of the time.17
6. Improved Communication & More Solid Relationships
Human communication is complex. At times, the spoken word only accounts for 7% of meaning interpretation.18 Phone calls reveal tone, but leave out body language and facial expression. This is often critical for full understanding.
Visual communication generates effective collaboration. Personal understanding and connection develop during video conferencing and are the key components to successful working relationships. As noted in the Harvard Business Review, this connection “promotes a group loyalty that results in a shared commitment to and discipline toward the work.” Having a sense of camaraderie, of really getting to know our coworkers ‘create[s] a common sense of purpose and the mentality that we are in-it together.’19
Video conferencing builds relationships, trust and camaraderie among employees. Executives can hold meetings real-time with global offices. Teams feel more connected to the home office. Project managers see and interact with those they may never have the chance to meet in person. Suppliers deliver informative, visually impactful pitches. The possibilities for building more successful and lasting business relationships are virtually endless.
Bottom line communication/relationship benefits of video conferencing: VC brings every aspect of communication to the table, for more effective conversations and better working relationships.
7. Support for Green Initiatives
Business traveling takes a toll on the environment in many ways. Video conferencing is an energy-smart, economically viable way to attend or sponsor meetings.20 It’s environmentally friendly, too.
Reduced business travel helps with:
- Energy consumption – Flying, driving and hotel stays use a great deal of energy, which generates smog-producing air pollutants and carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change.
- Waste production – In-person meetings create lots of waste. Among the landfill hazards: paper, printer ink, toner, plastic water bottles and non-recyclable refreshment containers.
- Food waste – Conference organizers typically order much more than can be consumed by the attendees. Leftover meals, snacks and cocktail hour goodies typically end up in the trash rather than a food bank.
Replacing travel with conferencing has a deep environmental impact and also makes economic sense. One study determined businesses with $1 billion or more in annual revenue adding VC achieve ROI in as little as 15 months. Nearly 900 business trips would be eliminated in the first year. The environmental impact? A reduction of 2,271 metric tons of pollution over five years. That’s the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing 434 passenger vehicles from the road.21
Bottom line environmental benefits of video conferencing: They’re huge. Replacing business travel with VC reduces landfill-bound waste, pollutants and greenhouse gasses.
8. Competitive Advantage
Each of the benefits listed above sharpens companies’ competitive edge. Teams that communicate via VC share knowledge faster and more efficiently which reduces time to market. Support departments establish personal customer relationships. Manufacturers can cut time and improve quality via virtual meetings — they can verify quality, propose changes, and ensure accuracy throughout the product lifecycle.
Bottom line competitive benefits of video conferencing: Leveraging VC allows companies to be more efficient. Better meetings are generated. Creativity abounds. Product cycles are thought out.
Adding Value to Video Conferencing
The range of options for implementing VC has never been greater. The benefits of video conferencing are available to companies large and small. Price points range from entry-level to extravagant. Options span hardware-based systems, software suites and virtualized systems. Video conferencing systems can run the gamut from basic desktop setups housed in huddle rooms to sophisticated telepresence suites Prices have dropped significantly from just a few years ago. Standard room-based systems range from $2,000 – $20,000. Cloud-based services can be as low as $30 per month.22
Industry analyst Andrew Davis of Wainhouse Research says:
“The capabilities you get with an entry-point system exceed what you could have received with a high-end system just a few years ago. People are trying to figure out what their infrastructure should be: Should they buy it and put it on premises, or should they go with a cloud service? I suspect that many companies, especially large companies, will go with a hybrid environment.23″
Video conferencing as a communication tool is growing at a record rate. It’s important for companies seeking to leverage the benefits of video conferencing to find a partner that will deliver ease of use and present a solution that will deliver a simplified meeting collaboration.