The Cost and the Value of Virtual Meetings

Jimmy, Grandad and Grandma go to CornwallAccording to Verizon there is a saving of between 5 and 35 times to be made when a meeting is run virtually:

Telecommunications company Verizon has wielded the power of senior-level buy-in to further increase its remote conferencing use in an effort to reduce meetings spending and unnecessary travel and support green initiatives.

“Let’s face it, we have to be cost-conscious and environmentally smart, so that needs to be mirrored in the way we travel,” said Debra Goldmann, senior specialist for Verizon Travel Services. “We took a look at how much people actually spend for a certain type of meeting versus how much they would spend for a virtual meeting. We found that a face-to-face meeting is between five and 35 times more expensive than a virtual meeting.”

When it comes to virtual meetings I have to admit to being something of a cynic. My issue isn’t with the cost savings of moving meetings virtual – my issue is with the diminished value of these meetings.

I don’t think that anyone would argue with me that any virtual platform – video or audio – detracts from the value of the meeting. This results in meetings that are protracted in length and tend to communicate at a very high level. Any discussion that has required a deep understanding or close collaboration has been, in my experience, a failure.

With all of these limitations I wonder whether the value of many virtual meetings is so low as to make them more expensive than face-to-face meetings. I have participated in many teleconference meetings which have been massively protracted by the limitations of the medium. These meetings have then used far more time than a physical meeting would have, but they have also added massively to the lead-time for resolution. In one particular occasion we were working on a technical problem for over three weeks before a face-to-face meeting resolved the problem in under 2 hours.

Having said that, I spend hours of my working week on teleconference calls – and they work very well when they are about transmitting information and not about collaboration.

I also have to admit here that my experience on HD telepresence systems is very limited and it may be the game-changing technology that some people tell me it is.

Perhaps I’m just a Luddite.

2 thoughts on “The Cost and the Value of Virtual Meetings”

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