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High flyers of the future: video conferencing

Magazine Contact #13

Organisational consultants agree: “net meetings” greatly increase productivity and efficiency of employees, improve their work-life balance and even contribute a great deal to environmental protection. For instance, two flights from Vienna to London emit just as much CO2 as the manufacture of a complete set of conference equipment including a large table and six chairs.

Christian L. is an export manager of a medium-size Austrian company. In this capacity, he is responsible among other things for the sales companies in London, Madrid and Moscow. At the start, he was still very proud of his “jetset life”; the many business trips had the feel of “status” about them and underlined his importance. Two years ago, the management commissioned organisation consultants to check the company’s work-flow efficiency. The analysis with Mr L. – carried out on a sample routine visit to his sales office in London – came to a sobering conclusion: 6 am departure to the airport, 11.30 am arrival at the sales office, meeting until 2 pm (minus 30 minutes for lunch), 2 pm return journey, 8 pm arrival at home. To sum up: Christian L.’s average travelling day lasted 14 hours. Actual productive time was around 2 hours (or just about 15 % of his working time), apart from a couple of interim telephone conversations.

The consultants suggested that the company hold only every fourth sales meeting on site, and carry out all other meetings via video conferencing. No sooner said than done: an existing conference room was adapted as a video conferencing room – equipped with modern VC hard- and software and a

tailor-made table system ensuring optimal communication with the virtual partners. Comfortable conference chairs and an appropriate interior design provided a pleasant atmosphere for talks. The result is worth looking at. The “net meetings” now rarely last longer than an hour, with top visual and acoustic quality for discussions. A second screen is at hand to be able to discuss data together simultaneously. The investment in the technology and equipment paid itself off within only a few months. The productivity and efficiency of Christian L. (and his colleagues) have increased. And let’s be honest: is it such fun flying with a budget airline, sharing the plane with school classes, palmed off with a ham sandwich if you’re lucky? And then to fight for every inch of space in an overcrowded tube train? Christian L., too, very soon came to this conclusion, because not only his productivity has improved enormously, but also his work-life balance.

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