Business technology experts have been talking about video conferencing for a while. Some companies embraced it years ago, while others remain skeptical. Is it worth the hassle of learning something new and changing process? Is it really all that different from an audio conference call?
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of video conferencing. (Spoiler: There are far more pros than cons.) We’ll even close things out with a few questions you can ask to determine right now—today—if video conferencing is a good fit for your company.
What we love about video conferencing
If you’re wary, we understand. Embracing new technology is always a bit of a pain, even when the payoff is big.
But there’s a lot to love about video conferencing.
It’s definitely better than voice-only conference calls
Video conferencing adds a completely missing dimension to communication that can be critical for business meetings and collaboration sessions. Consider this. According to Psychology Today, “The belief is that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken.”
How much of the conversation are you missing if you only hear someone’s voice?
It helps build connections
A recent Forbes article asserts that video conferencing “translates into closer relationships—even between team members or clients who have yet to meet in person.”
Here’s the thinking. When you meet someone face-to-face, you feel like you know them better because you can put a face to their voice. Video conferencing allows for the same sense of closeness, making it possible for coworkers and customers to feel closer, even at a distance.
It allows for easy collaboration
Video conferencing works beautifully with collaboration-enhancing tools, like virtual whiteboards and shared documents. Pairing up video with these tools makes it possible to conduct productive brainstorming sessions, even if the participants are on the other side of the globe.
It’s cheaper than footing the bill for travel costs
Travel costs money. Plane tickets, hotel rooms and car rentals are unarguably expensive, but so is a trip across town.
Think about it. Your time is valuable. If you have to spend an hour in traffic going to and from a 30-minute meeting, you’re investing 5 times the amount of time in that meeting than you really need to be. Wouldn’t it be better much of the time to handle non-critical meetings via video?
There are free options (to get you started)
There are free video conferencing options, like Microsoft Teams, that you can try out at literally no cost—assuming you have some very basic equipment like webcams. If you don’t have the basic hardware, it’s not super expensive.
This makes it possible to test the waters without going all in on some conference room of the future that will set you back thousands.
“For businesses, it used to be that a video conferencing system cost $50,000 to $100,000 and was only used for executives. Now, it can be in any conference room for $1,000 to $2,000.”– Yale Insights
Where video conferencing falls short
As great as video conferencing is, it’s not perfect. Here are some of the areas where it falls short.
Quality systems cost money
As a recent article notes, “What people want is a sweet spot of great audio and video at a consumerized price and usability.” In other words, the webcam and microphone on your work laptop are not really ideal for regular video conference meetings.
If you’re going to make video conferencing a regular occurrence, you will need to budget for it.
It takes coordination
While you can just pop into someone’s office for a quick conversation, video conferencing takes at least a little planning. At first, that may feel inconvenient. We believe it’s a small price to pay for the overwhelming advantages, but it’s still worth noting.
People have to get used to it
Any time you introduce your staff to new technology, there will be a learning curve. Some people will fall in love with video conferencing from day one just because it’s shiny and new. Others will hate it from the start because they have to change how they work.
How to determine if video conferencing is right for your business
The real question is this: Is video conferencing right for your business?
Here are a few questions to help you make that call.
- Do you have remote workers on your staff?
- Does your business have multiple locations?
- Do you work with any priority clients who are out of town (or even across town)?
- Do you or other staff members travel often for work?
- Do you or your staff have a lot of collaborative meetings?
- Do you feel it’s important for your business to be up-to-date on the latest technology?
If you answered yes to even one of those questions, you should at least consider video conferencing. If you’re not sure where to start, your managed IT services provider or VoIP partner can likely point you in the right direction.
Keep reading: Everything you need to know about VoIP phone systems