Remote working is on the rise and, according to figures from the TUC1, there are already 1.6 million people in the UK working from locations other than a fixed company office. This is driven partly by advances in technology and improvements in broadband internet connectivity2, and partly by benefits such as boosts to productivity3 and generally happier staff.
However, one concern that businesses and managers have with remote workers is that the lack of face-to-face communication and interaction may affect their employee’s ability to do their job. Such apprehensions are reasonable, but they are also easily dealt with by the implementation of video conferencing technology. This has proven advantages over voice communication alone, in addition to supporting the benefits of remote working in general.
Let your body talk
A key advantage of video conferencing is that it allows for participants to see and use body language to help convey meaning. There have been many studies into the importance of non-verbal communication, including one oft-misquoted ‘rule’ that only 7%4 of communication is down to the actual words spoken. There is also data that suggests video conferencing performs 30%5 better than voice-only communication in terms of the ability to hear and be heard and to participate effectively.
However you interpret the research, most would agree that body language is an important element of communication and one that allows staff to glean greater understanding from meeting participants, in addition to feeling more connected to them.
Quicker and easier
Another benefit of video conferencing is that it’s much more immediate. Rather than trying to arrange for everyone to be in the same location at the same time, you can simply schedule meetings based on availability, no matter where in the world people are. This reduces delays and the potential of cancelled meetings owing to travel issues.
And talking of travel, video conferencing is a great way to save money, reducing expenses claims for mileage and even air travel. There are added benefits of reduced travel too, such as supporting a Corporate Social Responsibility policy for responsible travel, and it can even help to reduce stress. In a report on the health impacts of commuting by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH)6, 55% said they felt more stressed as a result of their commute.
Basic video conferencing
The benefits of video conferencing seem clear, and there’s further good news because there really is no barrier to entry when it comes to getting started. At the most basic level, all you need is a laptop with a webcam, a built-in microphone and a decent internet connection, and you’re already equipped to join a video call.
You don’t even need to fork out for the software, because entry-level options are available for free, such as Skype or Zoom. For more complex meetings, it’s hard to beat Google Hangouts Meet, which can support up to 50 video participants (with broadcasting up to 100,000) and comes with useful features such as screen-sharing and a dial-in capability for anyone who can’t join a meeting over the internet. Integration with G Suite, meanwhile, makes it simple to schedule and join calls using Google Calendar.
Professional video conferencing
If you’re using a desktop or mini PC, or the integrated webcam and mic in your laptop isn’t up to scratch, then you can add a webcam for as little as £20. However, to make a good impression, a high-quality camera, such as the £89.99 Microsoft Lifecam Studio, would be advisable and this includes a wideband microphone for clear audio too.
For smaller offices, you can create a ‘huddle room’ and make use of dedicated conferencing technology, such as the innovative Meeting Owl7, which includes a 360-degree lens that automatically focuses on participants when they speak. Bigger meeting rooms can use large format displays, which often have built-in cameras, and conference speakerphones that connect to a dedicated video conferencing PC. The benefit of this approach is higher-quality calls, with sharper video reproduction and clearer audio, both of which will contribute to more successful meetings.
ASUS Hangouts Meet Hardware Kit
One of the simplest ways to add video conferencing capability to a meeting room is with the ASUS Hangouts Meet Hardware Kit bundle. This includes an ASUS Chromebox 3 mini PC, touchscreen control panel, high-quality speakermic box and a 4K Ultra-HD camera. Simply add a large-format display and you’re ready for high-quality video conferences. You can even attach the Chromebox mini PC to the rear of the display using a VESA mount to ensure a sleek and inviting meeting space.
Whether it’s a simple video call using a laptop, a compact huddle room setup, or a fully-equipped conference room, embracing the many advantages and opportunities of video conferencing simply makes good business sense.
To learn more about ASUS video conferencing solutions, click here.