In a recent survey conducted by Wainhouse Research, 94% of responding businesses reported that video conferencing solutions have increased their productivity. That statistic alone makes a compelling case for the necessity of video conferencing and collaboration solutions in the modern workplace, but it’s helpful to take a step back from numbers and examine the why and how.
Why is video conferencing such an effective tool? How does it foster a work environment that increases productivity almost across the board? The business world is increasingly reliant on the labor of employees who work remotely, so thinking about the positive impact of video conferencing means looking at the ways it trumps audio conference calls as a collaborative tool for those who work from home or while traveling. So let’s zoom in on two important categories of improvement.
Reduced Meeting Times
The thing that is great about the old-fashioned telephone conference call is the same thing that is bad about the old-fashioned telephone conference call: it allows people to multi-task to their heart’s content. While it might seem like multi-tasking is the ultimate time-saver, the freedom to do two or more things at once can ultimately waste more time than it saves. If you’re composing an email while talking to a colleague on the phone, are you really paying attention to what the person on the other end of the line is saying? Are they feeling heard? If everyone is doing everything at once, what are the odds that any of those tasks is getting the attention and focus it deserves? It might feel like you are a superhero when you are talking on the phone and writing an email and scanning a report and making coffee at the same time, but you are scattering your attention in a way that will catch up with you: that phone conversation will be rife with repetitions and missed messages; that email will need to be edited; that report will go in one eye and out the other. The coffee might be okay, which is good--you’ll need the caffeine to work late fixing your mistakes. A video conference forces participants to focus on one thing: what people are saying. And with such focus comes expediency, as messages are conveyed clearly and absorbed fully in a fraction of the time it would take for two distracted people to connect over the phone.
It might hum just beneath our waking awareness, but it is real nonetheless: so much of the information we take in comes through unspoken cues like facial expressions, body language, glances, gesticulations. These are crucial aspects of communication that cannot be conveyed via telephone. In a video conference, however, you are getting the full message. Not only words, but all of the dynamic and vital information that accompanies them. You are no longer simply engaging with abstract ideas riding into your ear via a voice. You are connecting with a real human being whose movements and manner add dimension and meaning to language. This not only fosters intimacy with colleagues--it also makes for a culture of collaboration in which people feel understood and valued.
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