In a time where business communications are undergoing a remarkable transformation, video conferencing has emerged as a game-changer for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK.
The ability to virtually connect with teams, clients, and partners has become indispensable. But, as with any technological advance, there are challenges that often accompany the advantages.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of video conferencing solutions, and determine whether or not the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for businesses keeping their teams connected.
What is video conferencing?
Video conferencing enables individuals or groups in different locations to hold face-to-face meetings in real-time. So long as you have a device with a camera and microphone – whether that’s a laptop, smartphone, or office conference equipment, you can join a team call.
Since the pandemic, video calls have become invaluable for businesses as they offer a virtual meeting space for hybrid, remote, and flexible workers. It also enhances collaboration among team members, clients, and partners.
Benefits of video conferencing
Video calls let you keep in touch with team members, wherever they are. Let’s delve into advantages such as global accessibility, cost savings, time efficiency, increased flexibility, and enhanced collaboration.
Video calls allow you to talk to someone on the other side of the world without leaving the comfort of your chair. Businesses can connect with clients, partners, or team members globally, making communication easy and hassle-free. In this age of remote workers and digital nomads, this is a benefit beyond measure.
Video calls are a budget-friendly choice. For local teams, it means less need for pricey office space for in-person catch-ups. For international contacts, there’s less need for pricey flights or hotel stays for meetings.
Our research found that 14% of businesses plan to increase the number of days staff can work from home in the year ahead.
Businesses could save over £26,000 per year by leaning into video conferencing rather than in-person meetings, according to a report by LyteSpark.
Time is precious, especially in business, and video calls can really help to keep meetings efficient.
For one thing, there’s no more waiting for people to travel to your offices to attend a meeting, giving staff time back in their pocket to focus on their core work.
On top of this, without the rigmarole of booking a meeting room, ensuring there are enough seats, and waiting for everyone to get a coffee, a video call can be a speedy way to work through key need-to-knows.
Video calls make work flexible. Since you can join them from almost anywhere, video calls turn your kitchen, the local coffee shop, or even the park into a virtual boardroom.
For working parents, for example, this newfound flexibility is revolutionary. Need to attend a crucial meeting but one of your kids has been sent home early from nursery? No problem. Video calls let you contribute to that brainstorm session or client presentation from the comfort of home, juggling both work and family commitments seamlessly.
For freelancers (who have been proven to be happier than most in-office workers), video calls mean no more commuting hassles to attend a meeting with just one of your clients.For those constantly on the move due to other travel or work commitments, video conferencing lets you stay connected and contribute to meetings from anywhere with an internet connection.
Teamwork makes the dream work, right? Video calls bring teams together, no matter where they are on the map.
Everyone gets a chance to share their thoughts, making sure every idea is valued. Thanks to the format of video calls, it can be easier for some employees who prefer not to speak up in-person. You’re also able to effortlessly send a follow-up message after a video call, or share a doc or notes in a chat during the call.
Disadvantages of video conferencing
However, there are undoubtedly drawbacks to video conferencing – but it’s not all bad news. We’ll explain how to navigate and conquer these obstacles for a seamless video conferencing experience.
Slow Wi-Fi at an employee’s home, connectivity issues, or your video conferencing hardware is glitching are a few of the hurdles a business might face during a video call.
To keep the show running smoothly, companies need to invest in strong, reliable technology infrastructure to ensure their virtual meetings go off without a hitch.
When it comes to discussing sensitive company issues, security is a big deal. Video conferencing, while super handy, can pose risks, especially if confidential information is involved.
There’s a two-pronged approach to tackle. One is technical: ensure you’ve chosen a video conferencing tool that has top-notch cybersecurity measures and secure encryption.
The second is to educate your team on the right practice for sensitive discussions. If you’re about to do a call debating the salary benchmarking of your department, or are planning a campaign for a client that’s not been disclosed to the public, you’ll need to set clear boundaries for where meetings and discussions can take place. For truly sensitive business communications, it may be preferable to bring your team together in person.
Ever felt the contagious energy of a room full of colleagues rallying behind a big idea, sharing laughter, and high-fives, all in real-time? That’s an experience you can’t quite replicate through the pixels of a corporate video call. Video calls miss out on some non-verbal cues, making it a tad tricky to catch all the nuances. This can lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations. Also, without that face-to-face interaction, building personal connections among team members may take a hit.
Inappropriate for some discussions
There are some types of meetings where a video call may not get the best results. This could include needing to give challenging feedback to a colleague or line report, or a formal performance review where clear lines of expectation need to be set.
If you can’t avoid having meetings like this remotely, you should consider having an additional attendee for difficult conversations, such as a representative from your HR department. Always follow up with written notes afterwards, whether the meeting is in person or remote.
Missing the personal touch
While virtual communication offers convenience, nothing quite rivals the impact of face-to-face connections. From the nuances of a conversation to the spontaneous exchange of ideas, in-person meetings can exponentially deepen professional relationships.
Zoom fatigue is a real issue. Constantly hopping from one virtual meeting to another can leave employees feeling like they’ve run a marathon. New studies around the phenomena (including research by the National Library of Medicine) indicate that there are physically and mentally draining effects for staff who’ve been on back-to-back calls.
To avoid burnout, businesses need to set ground rules. Encourage breaks, establish clear boundaries, and make sure your team knows it’s okay to step away from the screen.
This in-depth look into video conferencing – the good and the bad – should leave you confident enough to jump onto the video conferencing bandwagon. It opens up a world of possibilities for businesses, but it’s always important to be conscious of the drawbacks.
Learn to work with the different styles of your various team members. Understand that some of them will thrive on video calls, while others may feel drained after a day of joining remote meetings. Mix up your approach to get the best results, with a variety of video calls, in-person catch-ups, and undisturbed desk time to let your team recharge and focus on their key tasks.
Finding that sweet spot will ensure your business rides the video conferencing wave like a pro.