Using Video Conferencing with Unified Communications
Not that long ago, businesses used online video in a limited number of ways. Its high cost and low quality made it a less-than-desirable solution for team meetings, and before high-definition cameras became common on mobile devices, it was simply impractical for a worker to try video-messaging a colleague.
But IP phone systems and unified communications have expanded the use of video, video chat and video conferencing across the enterprise and introduced new possibilities to streamline workflow and improve decision-making, collaboration and productivity.
The benefits that result are many. Not only can video conferencing lower travel and meeting costs, it can accelerate projects, get products to market more quickly, and increase a business’s competitiveness.
It may also make your employees happier. More connected than earlier generations, Millennials are poised to dominate the workplace in the near future. Already, they make up a larger share of the workforce than Generation X, and some predictions say they’ll surpass the number of Baby Boomers in 2015. That puts increasing pressure on companies to embrace the communications methods Millennials themselves have long since adopted – such as video chat and conferencing.
But how can organizations incorporate video into their workflow and use it to its greatest effect? Here are three simple ideas that are easy to execute.
More Virtual Meetings
In the past, the best way to get employees to collaborate was to authorize travel between offices. But trips – even short ones – can be expensive. Think about it: The 2008 recession and the subsequent tightening of credit limited the development of new hotels. As a result, hotel rooms are in short supply, pushing prices up about 40% since 2011. With standard hotel rooms commanding nightly rates of $400 to $500 in some cities, cost-conscious businesses need to rethink how work can be accomplished without in-person meetings. With video integrated into their phone system, employees are a click away from seeing a colleague on the other side of the country or joining an impromptu video conference.
With remote and mobile workers making up a growing segment of the workforce, an insistence on face-to-face collaboration can significantly slow an undertaking’s progress. Fortunately, video can help overcome roadblocks caused by distance. Difficult decisions can be discussed using “face to face,” adding a personal element standard phone calls don’t offer. The ability to see your co-worker and read their nonverbal queues can eliminate misunderstandings and lead to greater clarity. Not only can decisions be made more quickly, but they’re likely to be smarter too.
Better Project Development
Standard teleconferences can be inadequate for groups working on complex projects. With screen sharing, however, team members can see and evaluate visuals of their colleagues’ work. This enables more efficient and effective collaboration, as participants can comment immediately on features, functionality, wording and graphics. In addition, changes can be made in real time as the rest of the team looks on.
These simple approaches can make teams and meetings more effective because progress is made during video conversations, not in the hours or days afterwards. Turns out, the Millennials are on to something: Smart use of video can significantly contribute to an organization’s success by lowering costs and enabling its people to be more effective.