Video conferencing is no longer something only corporations can afford. With tech costs dropping, almost any company has the opportunity to leverage this collaboration tool. The question here is – is it worth it? Should you choose video conferencing over in-person meetings in your particular case? What are the advantages and disadvantages of video conferencing?
Advantages of Video Conferencing
- Quicker decisions and timely intervention
- Collaborative work and document sharing
- Happier employees and higher job retention
- Lower costs and higher savings
- Unique contacts and opportunities
Disadvantages of Video Conferencing
- Less personal contact and understanding
- Network instability and time lag
- Technical issues and employee training
- More stress and less organization
Let’s discuss the pros and cons of video conferencing so that you can make a more informed decision. First, we shall review the advantages.
Advantages of Video Conferencing
Quicker Decisions and Timely Intervention
The enterprise video market, which includes video conferencing, is expected to grow up to $19.8 billion by 2023. This is not surprising when you consider how much video conferencing benefits businesses.
Businesses can now lead time-sensitive projects with more efficiency since they no longer need to wait to make changes and inform others about updates. All employees can communicate with each other on an ongoing basis via video conferencing tools.
Video conferencing is also beneficial for the company reputation, since it allows executives to do damage control in real-time instead of letting the conflict brew until the next meeting.
Collaborative Work and Document Sharing
Many businesses nowadays have offices all across the world working together on projects. Video conferencing tools such as whiteboard commenting, screen sharing, and remote control can definitely facilitate collaboration on such projects.
It is much faster to work on the same file simultaneously than letting everyone make their corrections separately. Video conferencing allows just that: your employees can modify and update files in real time, without having to wait for the previous person to be done.
This tool is also incredibly useful for students, because they often work together on a lab report or a project summary.
Happier Employees and Higher Job Retention
Thanks to video conferencing, companies can now let their employees work from home without sacrificing communication.
Studies report 56% lower turnover rates among telecommuters. Overall job satisfaction increases when people don’t have to go to the office every day. Frankly, most employees now prefer to work from home as this enables them to save precious time and costs commuting to and fro the office. With remote work, the focus is on productivity and deliverables rather than the number of hours spent daily at the office.
Students can also get sufficient sleep and still be on time for their online lecture or seminar.
Lower Costs and Higher Savings
Even the most expensive microphone set, webcam and speakers won’t cost as much as organizing a full on-site meeting. Travel, hotel, venue, meals – all those little things add up to quite a chunky sum. If you take into consideration the fact that these meetings may be regular, and not once-off, the costs of hosting on-site meetings can pile up quicker than expected. Hence, video conferencing has become a life-saver for many companies.
Of course, with online meetings, there are still costs involved. For one, you may need to update the tech tools used for your meetings. Things do get broken, and a microphone that is considered high-end now may be outdated in just a year.
However, flights get canceled, and hotels get overbooked. At least new tech purchased, unlike a new plane ticket, can be reused multiple times after the upgrade.
For example, if you are an online instructor doing numerous courses throughout a year, it is very beneficial for you to invest in video conferencing equipment. Now imagine holding physical classes all through the year as an instructor and all the costs that would go into that – you probably won’t be smiling to the bank.
Unique Contacts and Opportunities
Video conferencing allows companies to cooperate with businesses all over the globe. There is no need to spend weeks of valuable time travelling to a specific location for negotiations. All you need is a reliable video conferencing platform and some basic equipment.
Students don’t need to leave their whole life behind in order to study at their dream university. They can now do it online thanks to video conferencing platforms. It is possible to learn unique skills and get exposed to diverse cultures and opinions without spending anything on travel.
It is especially important for students from locations with limited access to education. In this regard, video conferencing fulfils the necessary humanitarian function. The possibilities are indeed endless.
Disadvantages of Video Conferencing
Despite all the numerous pros, video conferencing is not without its drawbacks. Let’s discuss some of them:
Less Personal Contact and Understanding
About 55% of our understanding comes from body language. Even though video conferencing allows people to see each other, it is not always capable of recreating real live communication. The truth is, there are various signs, gestures and indications that are difficult to detect via a screen. It is possible to misinterpret the gestures of the person you are video conferencing because all you can see is a limited box with their face and a bit of their background.
Some of these drawbacks you can offset by simple tricks such as looking directly into the camera or doing occasional hand gestures to show interest and excitement.
However, nothing can substitute a hearty handshake or an exchange of smiles. That is why for important negotiations, it is better to hold a traditional in-person meeting. Thus, your company can employ a mix of methods depending on the level of importance and sensitivity – online meetings for regular collaborations and in-person meetings for critical negotiations.
Network Instability and Time Lag
This is a common problem with video conferencing.
The connection may not always be perfect, which sometimes leads to blurry image transmissions and the loss of important visual cues. Sometimes you may not even hear other attendees, which is annoying at best and deal-breaking at worst. For instance, if you are holding an important meeting with a potential client or partner, the last thing you want is to be cut-off halfway through your pitch or in the middle of a heated negotiation. It can result in frustration on the part of the client, which is never the best condition to have a meaningful discussion.
Furthermore, even with perfect connection, time lag is inevitable. That is why it is important to set the rules of video conferencing in advance. For example, only one person should speak at a time to avoid interruptions from other participants.
Technical Issues and Employee Training
Not everyone will be comfortable using a video conferencing platform from the get-go. Companies and universities need to allocate time, money and human resources to train their employees. However, even after a thorough training, people will need days or even weeks to get used to the new mode of communication.
It is necessary to train others on what to do and who to refer to when technical issues occur, since these issues can disrupt important negotiations, exams, and quizzes. Usually, assistance can be obtained from the tech support of your chosen video conferencing platform.
More Stress and Less Organization
The ability to contact anyone anywhere at any time has an often-overlooked dark side.
When people know they can set up a video conference whenever they want, they are prone to being less prepared for it than for an in-person meeting.
As a result, employees might be forced to sit in conferences outside their working hours, trying to clean the mess that could have been prevented with a bit more organization.
To avoid this scenario, managers need to monitor their subordinates and make sure they treat video conferences just as seriously as regular meetings.
Companies also need to set boundaries in regards to when employees can be contacted outside their working hours.
Now that we’ve reviewed the pros and cons of video conferencing, you can make the right decision about using it in your education, career, or other areas. Many of these disadvantages can be reduced if you choose a video conferencing platform that is reliable, easy to use and incorporates quality features for better collaboration.