Video conferencing and collaboration tools have come to the forefront of high-tech communications solutions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, this technology saved the business world from the limitations of voice-only conference call meetings and many long, confusing chains of email conversations.
Clearly, video conferencing solutions will continue to be used very frequently now — even when the restrictions of the pandemic are gone. This is because a significant number of employees want to continue to work away from the office and wherever they can get high-speed internet access.
Permitting people to work from home or remotely from anywhere has many obvious benefits, including:
- No commuting leads to more work time as well as free time
- More focused work-time with fewer office or workplace distractions
- More productivity (though there is some debate among researchers)
Now, let’s consider the less obvious and less individual benefits accrued by using video conferencing and collaboration tools.
Less internal travel
Most businesses expect their travel budgets to return to pre-pandemic levels when fear of the virus and its variants ends. The one line item exception under the Business Travel Expenses category is “Internal Travel.”
Many foresee that executives and co-workers will travel a lot less frequently between or to headquarters and satellite offices now. The expectation is that now regular video calls with teams can replace frequent or even quarterly in-person “check-ins.” After all, many teams were forced to do this for over a year and have been able to keep the connections between colleagues strong. With improved collaboration tools and the everyday experience with video call meetings now, many feel comfortable with having in-person meetings limited to just annual events.
Clearly, the savings from less internal travel can be very significant when considering the elimination of travel costs, including:
- Car fare and parking fees
- Hotel costs
- Food costs
- Time lost while traveling
More team diversity
With the wholesale adoption of video conferencing and collaboration tools now, organizations are able to recruit and employ individuals beyond their usual talent pools. No longer are they limited to talent that live in close proximity to key office locations.
Being able to fish for new employees in a broader and deeper pool means there is more potential for cobbling together teams that are made up of more diversity. Team diversity is important because as researchers state in a Harvard Business Review article, “People from diverse backgrounds might … lead to improved and more accurate group thinking.”
Before the pandemic forced employees into frequent video conferencing, high-quality employee engagement was often limited by where an employee’s desk or workstation was located within the workplace.
Now, video call and collaboration technology encourages more contact and richer relationships between teams and colleagues by connecting them through visual communication. We know putting a face with a voice and name humanizes everyone.
With video conferencing, colleagues can get to know each other without being in the same room, same floor, same building, same complex, same city, or same country. This is a powerful tool for creating strong cultures and team spirit. Having the ability to regularly “see” where a colleague is coming from, both literally and figuratively, builds a connective tissue between team members that can’t help but improve efficiency.
Another beneficial side effect of organizations employing video conferencing and collaboration solutions to support the new hybrid workforce is improved employee health and wellness. This is an off-shoot of eliminating commute times, which gives workers, especially parents, more time to sleep and/or relax. Obviously, a better rested employee is able to handle stress better and stay healthier. This, of course, means less burnout.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been paying attention that the “Great Resignation” is happening in part because workers do not want to return to the “old normal.” It’s obvious that many job quitters want to keep their “new normal” work life. Organizations that want to retain staff will support the hybrid approach. One excellent way to support the hybrid workforce is to continue to use and expand the use of video conferencing solutions.