With the hybrid workplace environment spreading employees between the office and home, web conferencing is playing an increasingly important role when it comes to meetings.
As with any tool, gaining an understanding of the benefits and the drawbacks is critical for business success – you want to be sure you’re able to maximize the potential of the tool while preparing you for the possible challenges and what you can do to overcome them. It’s also important to ensure you have the right equipment in place for effective and seamless web conferencing.
Keep reading as we take break down the top advantages and disadvantages of web conferencing in today’s modern workplace so you can better understand why web conferencing solutions are so valuable and also prepare yourself for some of the possible obstacles.
Top 3 Benefits of Web Conferencing
Web conferencing has helped to revolutionize modern workplaces and fundamentally alter business communication. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant ways that web conferences can benefit employers and employees.
1. Decreases the Importance of Location
One of the biggest advantages connected to web conferencing is the removal of physical or geographical location as a barrier when it comes to meetings, group discussions, events, and collaborative sessions. After all, with the right equipment and software, people will be able to attend these gatherings from anywhere in the world.
This, in turn, offers a number of significant knock-on effects. For instance, it means companies can increase the scale of their conferences or product launch events because they can be ‘attended’ by a global audience. It also means business meetings can occur without limits, potentially enabling employees and talents to be hired from different parts of the world.
2. Reduces Long-Term Costs
Another major advantage associated with web conferencing is the ability to reduce costs, and this applies to both businesses and employees. For companies, video conferencing has the potential to greatly reduce travel expenses, and its role in facilitating remote or hybrid work can also allow businesses to reduce their office space.
In fact, companies can save as much as $11,000 per employee annually by using web conferencing software. For employees, the main financial benefit is the reduced need to commute to the workplace for meetings or events. In organizations carrying out regular meetings, these savings quickly add up too.
3. Can Create a Better Work/Life Balance
It’s important to acknowledge that the traditional approach to business meetings can have a negative impact on employees’ work/life balance, especially if they are expected to travel to meetings regularly. When the option exists to attend virtually instead, it presents an opportunity to improve this balance by reducing time needed for the preparation of travel and the commute itself.
This time saved could potentially enable employees to sleep for longer, meaning they are better rested or enjoy more social time away from work, which can improve overall happiness. Businesses can then benefit from this too, as well-rested, happy employees are likely to be more productive and less likely to want to find a different job.
Top 3 Drawbacks of Web Conferencing
While a growing number of businesses are coming to terms with the potential and benefits that web conferencing has to offer, it’s equally important to consider the challenges associated with the technology as well.
1. Initial Setup Can Be Expensive
While the long-term savings associated with web conferencing are a significant advantage, it’s fair to say substantial investment is usually required to get things set up in the first place. Among other things, businesses need to ensure their infrastructure can cope with demands and that all employees have the necessary equipment.
Often, this will mean providing monitors, headsets, and webcams for those who are working remotely. Everyone will require access to the core web conferencing software, which could be Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom, or another similar platform. There may also be a need for digital whiteboarding solutions, video conferencing monitors, or even a large conferencing display.
2. Can Lead to Social Isolation
Web conferencing technology plays a key role in hybrid and remote working models and while these offer many benefits, they can also contribute to feelings of social isolation. For instance, an employee who works from home often and who lives alone can easily suffer from a lack of real-world contact, and this needs to be carefully managed.
At its best, web conferencing is about breaking down barriers and bringing people closer together. Nonetheless, you do need to monitor each employee carefully and pick up on any signs of unhappiness. Hosting non-work virtual gatherings and reaching out to individual employees can also help battle isolation.
3. Technical Issues Can Cause Disruptions
Although steps can be taken to reduce the risk of technical issues, such as by investing in high-quality equipment and providing staff training, they are still a factor with many web conferences and need to be considered a disadvantage compared to the more traditional approach of in-person conferences or meetings.
According to research from Highfive, 40% of meetings encounter some form of hardware or software-related technical issue, and the average time wasted on solving issues of this kind is three minutes. Some of the most common difficulties include unstable internet connections, software compatibility issues, and audio problems.
Summing It All Up
Recognizing the various web conferencing advantages and disadvantages allows businesses to improve their understanding of the technology and carry out better meetings. In particular, it is important to acknowledge the benefits of breaking down geographical barriers, improving employee work/life balance, and saving money.
At the same time, web conferencing does require initial investment, and technical issues are somewhat inevitable, although steps can be taken to reduce them. Moreover, frequent use of web conferencing to assist remote work can potentially lead to issues around social isolation, and any related problems need to be handled compassionately.
To amplify the benefits of web conferencing, it’s important to have the right equipment in place to support your web conferencing initiatives. Let us help you! Give us a call at (800) 727-6383 or connect with us online to talk to our team about what business tools and solutions would work best for your specific video conferencing set up.