Digital technology has made our business lives a hell of a lot easier. We can now do so many things in an instant that previously would have taken hours, or even days. Prime among those is video conferencing – a more communicative and natural way of discussing company and business matters among employees and clients. Previously, this type of technology only existed in science fiction films like Minority Report (they also got the slidey-screen technology dead on). But especially now, video conferencing is everywhere.
The question is, should you and your company use it? On the face of it, it seems to be all pros; but there are a few cons to be found in there too. Join us as we go through the pros and cons of video conferences – or, if you’ve come across this article in the future, assimilate the information in whatever way is optimum for your timeline.
What Exactly Is Video Conferencing?
The term “video conferencing” covers a wide spectrum of applications. Holding a meeting with a vast array of people who are all speaking from the comfort of their respective offices is the broad idea; but the term covers any kind of online business collaboration featuring video. Of course, none of this was possible without the internet, so video conferencing is a relatively new tool in the business shed.
Skype was the first platform to break ground in the arena of web conferencing, with the popular app being utilized both personally and professionally. Since then, many other companies have thrown their hats in the ring, including Google and Apple. Whichever app you choose, the main thrust is always the same: you get to see the other person’s face as you converse with them.
Video conferencing is obviously valuable across a large number of industries. But is it right for your company specifically? Let’s take a look at the benefits and the negatives of using it.
What Are the Advantages of Video Conference?
So what is the benefit of video conferencing? Many of its prime advantages are practical. In the same way Tom Cruise in Minority Report could catch a criminal before they committed a crime (talk about practical), video conferencing has saved many a victim of our eternal collective foe: time.
Back in the good ol’ days, people had to spend significant chunks of this most precious resource to successfully complete a meeting. They had to prepare, they may have had to travel, and so on and so forth. Nowadays, you can hop on your computer and get connected in a matter of moments. If you’re talking to many people at once, then the cost-saving factor can also be significant.
Video conferencing also allows employees to be more productive. When they can avail of video conferencing, more time can be saved; whether you have to travel ten minutes, ten miles or ten hours for a meeting, it’s all time. When you save said time, it means you can use it in other ways instead. Thus, more gets done, and your employees are more productive. Every business wants to increase productivity, regardless of the industry they’re in. The meetings themselves can also be more productive, as they ensure everyone is on the same page. By using programs like Word and PowerPoint, physical documents can become a thing of the past – the result being a streamlined atmosphere that ensures everybody present is focused on the same thing.
On top of that, a video conference allows folks to be flexible. No one likes a cancelled meeting, but if it has to happen, at least the people on the receiving end of the cancellation are minimally put out by the inconvenience.
What Are the Disadvantages of Video Conference?
As you can see, there are certainly a lot of positives to video conferencing. But are there some drawbacks? Unfortunately, there are a few. Paramount among them is the looming specter of technical issues. Very little can go wrong technically when people are gathered in one room at one time. However, when you’re trying to set up a mega video conference, which might include numerous participants in different areas of the world, then things can go wrong very fast. It only takes one small gremlin in the machine to render the whole meeting obsolete. (Remember: “technical issues” is the whole premise of Minority Report. Even the future is not immune.)
There is also a less obvious downside to video conferencing – one that stems from the very convenience of the service. Because it’s so readily available, there may exist a tendency among employees or co-workers to not be as prepared as they might be for an in-person meeting. Of course, this varies between individuals and very much depends on personal temperament; but the temptation to just hop on a video conference and go from there might be too strong for some to resist, especially if your employees work remotely. When a face-to-face meeting is scheduled, the occasion seems bigger, and more preparation is the natural incentive.
With all the advantages and disadvantages of video conferencing considered, it’s safe to say it’s a huge step in the right direction, and will continue to progress as technology improves. Currently, the biggest hurdles to smoothly incorporating video conferences into your company workflow are technological ones. Even in 2020, these are few and far between.
To streamline your company even further, consider adding a management tool like Productive to your arsenal. Productive does many things, but one of the major benefits is that it allows you to manage and monitor the progress of your employees. You can’t quite see when they’re going to be slacking off ahead of time, like in Minority Report… but you can make sure they’re taking their video conferences as seriously as they would a face-to-face meeting.