A recent report published by the WWF has highlighted the growing popularity of video conferencing in some of the UK’s biggest companies. The “Moving On” report is part of the WWF’s ‘One in Five Challenge’, a programme designed to help businesses as well as the government to reduce business travel, which in turn will reduce costs and cut carbon emissions. Over 150 companies took part in the survey for the ‘Moving on’ report, all of which are among the UK’s top 500; the overall aim being to establish whether business travel and meeting practices among the UK’s leading companies had changed in the last two years.
Nearly 50% of respondents said that their company had cut the total number of business flights it had taken in the past two years. Surprisingly, from those companies which had cut their flying, 85% do not intend to return to ‘business as usual’ levels. In fact, 63% of companies that responded now have a policy in place to reduce business flights, or are intending to implement one.
What’s evident is that the UK’s top companies are changing the way they meet and collaborate. The use of video conferencing has increased by 75% and is expected to keep growing. The adoption of video conferencing would be further enhanced if the government take on board the recommendations from the study. The most popular government initiative to encourage alternatives to business flying would be the ‘nationwide provision of high-speed broadband’ which was favoured by nearly 85% of respondents. Also, a key recommendation of the report would be the introduction of tax incentives for video conferencing equipment and its use.
The report also highlighted that the UK’s leading businesses are now looking beyond the associated cost savings from reduced travel that conferencing technology provides and are actually increasing productivity.
Other than the reduction of costs from cutting travel, some other key findings from the study were:
- Reductions in companies’ carbon footprint
- More flexibility for staff and improved work-life balance
- The ability of staff to continue working during disruption to travel networks
- The new culture of working and collaborating – where staff question the need to travel
Ultimately, the research shows that in the last few years, whilst the UK has been in a recession, the majority of those companies who took part in this survey have reduced their business travel and increased their use of different conferencing technologies – such as audio, web and video conferencing.
Conferencing technology is becoming even more sophisticated and it’s expected that there will be yet more changes to the way businesses communicate and collaborate. The growing popularity of unified communications and desktop video solutions will make video conferencing more accessible to a broader range of businesses – particularly small to medium sized enterprises (SME’s), who still account for 99.9% of the UK’s private business sector!
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