There's nothing like face-to-face meetings, where good news is met with a circle of smiles and bad news leads to messages being traded telepathically with just a subtle arch of an eyebrow.
Unless a business is taking advantage of desktop video conferencing solutions, however, workplace communication doesn't always include much face time. As workforces continue to spread out and travel budgets are slashed, some teams that have worked together for years couldn't pick each other out in a lineup. Even co-workers in the same building tend to favor sending an email over making that arduous, Everest-like walk up a flight of stairs to chat in person.
Having face time matters when it comes to building teams that can work together to effectively accomplish their goals. Since you can't magically summon all your geographically dispersed employees into one room at once à la Voldemort, desktop video conferencing solutions provide a virtual meeting room where your team can connect face-to-face regardless of their location.
The following are seven ways this type of service boosts productivity while cutting costs:
1. Streamlines Collaboration
If time is money, then email is expensive. When workers rely solely on email to solve problems, they can spend hours of their day caught in a game of tug-of-war where a lot of opinions are shared, but no conclusions are actually made. These situations could be easily resolved with face-to-face conversations. The ability to collaborate in real time enables team members to brainstorm and make decisions on the spot.
2. Improves Communication
You can't read tone in an email or see body language on the phone, both of which are important cues to ensure everyone is on the same page. And with so many messages in the average employee's inbox, it's pretty likely that many are only getting skimmed. When teams can exchange ideas and see one another's reactions, there are fewer misinterpretations or miscommunications that hinder decision-making and productivity. Video conferencing also enables leaders to communicate important information to different teams and departments at the same time, reducing the need for multiple meetings or long emails.
3. Streamlines Troubleshooting
When there's a problem, it can be helpful for everyone to have the same video view of what's going on. For example, IT teams troubleshooting a tricky server issue alongside their vendors can benefit from looking at the same indicator lights, while sales professionals that have questions about how a new product works can hop on a video chat with their colleagues in the product team, product in hand, to address points of confusion. What would have taken endless back and forth via an email or phone exchange can now be resolved in short order in a video conversation.
4. Connects Remote Workers
These days, most businesses employ at least a few people who work remotely. Whether you have teams of salespeople or technicians who spend their days in the field, a handful of people who work from home, or an entire team of remote teleworkers, there are times when they need to see one another — or see what everyone sees — in order to collaborate quickly and effectively. Most remote workers will appreciate the face time with their colleagues, even if it means they can't wear pajamas all day. According to research firm Gigaom, 87 percent of remote users report feeling more connected to their teams and processes when using video conferencing. The more connected teams feel, the better they can all work together.
Employees who are not able to join at the appointed time can still catch up on an important meeting after the fact, chiming in with their input afterward, and the work can keep moving forward.
5. Preserves Knowledge
Video conferencing also enables teams to record meetings, events, or knowledge transfers. These recordings can be used to catch up team members who missed meetings or loop in other employees who need to know what transpired. Even employees who were physically at the meeting but mentally in the gourmet coffee shop down the street can go back and review any vital information they may have missed. Recorded videos can also be used as training tools for new employees — no cheesy skits required.
6. Reduces Travel Costs
Face-to-face meetings are valuable tools for both collaboration and relationship-building among teams and with customers. However, business travel costs money and creates downtime while travelers are en route and "working from the plane" (aka watching "Game of Thrones"). Using video technology, employees can connect with colleagues at other locations or with prospects and clients without ever leaving their desks.
7. Boosts Attendance and Participation
When equipped with the tools they need to effectively participate in a virtual meeting, employees are more likely to show up on time and actively contribute to the conversation. That said, sometimes it's not possible to get everyone in the same virtual room at the same time for a live video conference — particularly if your workforce is dispersed across different time zones. Employees who are not able to join at the appointed time can still catch up on an important meeting after the fact, chiming in with their input afterward, and the work can keep moving forward.
Face time matters for team building and collaboration, for sales and customer relations, and for any other person-to-person aspects of your business. However, there's more than one way to get face-to-face. With video conferencing, your team can stop typing and get talking.