Why Do 92% of Staff Want Video Conferencing?

Is there a special place in Hell for the originator of open-plan offices?

Of 24,000 employees surveyed, a staggering 92% believe that video collaboration technology helps improve relationships and fosters better teamwork.

Productivity and teamwork are both significantly improved when employees can choose where they work, a global survey of anywhere working trends has found. The survey commissioned by Polycom, Inc. a global leader in helping organisations achieve new levels of teamwork, efficiency and productivity by unleashing the power of human collaboration.

The concept of remote workers, and those with greater flexibility has been growing at lightning speed. Strangely, it’s the smaller business which tends to resist the concept, thinking that there’s a loss of productivity when people aren’t in a single centralised location.

“There is a stigma that remote workers are disconnected from the rest of the team, yet this study proves that they are more sociable and proactively reach out to develop strong relationships. The new technology tools that enable communication and collaboration are actually motivating workers to pick up the phone, seek face time and create lasting bonds. This is the upside of remote work we rarely talk about,” Jeanne Meister, Partner, Future Workplace.

‘Why should software developers be in the same office as the sales or marketing teams?’

For the ‘typical’ single-site organisation, the costs of centralisation may not be fully understood. Let’s start with the obvious: rent. When starting up, and through the years it may well have reached capacity, so scaling up can often be a major headache if it will necessitate an office relocation. That headache will be measured in the tens of £1,000’s.

At the other end of the spectrum, it’s a rare ‘large’ SME which hasn’t expanded to multiple locations. Why then the fear for the smaller firm? After all, if estate agencies – quite routinely – have a dozen branches, is it really so alien of a concept to have a remote office? Why should software developers be in the same office as the sales or marketing teams?

All this brings us to the concept of remote working, coupled with video conferencing. As anyone who’s ventured into a open-plan office can attest, the multitude of distractions harm productivity, especially for those engaged in solo tasks, such as the aforementioned software development, research, data entry and so forth.

Engagement with one’s co-workers is one thing, but being productive with the clamour of their voices, incoming telephones ringing (and not even for you), can be frustrating in the extreme. Others see their productivity harmed by office banter, or even the distraction of a colleague eating a packet of crisps.

That bane of productivity – the 90-minute meeting – sees startling changes with video engagement as an alternative: it’s natural for a video meeting to terminate when the business is done, whereas face-to-face meetings invariably fill the allotted time.

Flexible working, coupled with remote offices, opens many new possibilities for the employer to create positive change. Skills shortages are more easily managed since your catchment area is increased to unlimited scale. Being able to establish a remote team means you can pay far less for their office infrastructure, rent, and the sundry other expenses.

Above all, the remote workers benefit from improved conditions. As soon as staff no longer have to endure the loss of two hours per day on commuting, their productivity increases considerably. The interesting by-product is greatly reduced absence due to sickness.

It’s time to banish the Victorian business practises. Just as we have abandoned the rows of desks typical of the secretarial typing pool, typical until the 1960’s, and we threw off the rigid clocking in and out, it must be accepted that change is happening ever faster. The winners will be those organisations which accept new technologies and leverage them for the improvements they can offer.

As a closing thought: the United Kingdom National Health Service is rolling out doctor’s appointments via Skype. Currently being piloted in London, as well as in other major cities, this is evidence that change is within your grasp. If the NHS can change, so can you.

At Euro BPO, and in partnership with our specialist consultants, we approach cost reduction from the ground up. Process improvement, automation, efficiency, and cost reduction are our strengths.

At Euro BPO, our mission is clear: we enable our clients to save a minimum of 35% on the cost of employment. We deliver this in part through the leveraging of leading technologies, of which video conferencing is a key part.

As a closing thought, consider the scale of savings to be realised on an entire team. In these challenging economic times, savings such as this can make the difference between growth or stagnation.

Humperdinck Jackman

Co-founder & Director, Euro BPO Limited

e. hjackman@eurobpo.com

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