Just as many classically trained actors refuse to give up the authenticity
of the stage for the glitz and glamour of the big screen, many corporations
are resisting replacing face-to-face meetings with videoconferencing. Manufacturers
have spent the last ten years extolling the virtues of videoconferencing
reduced travel costs, time savings, the ability to connect with global partners,
to name a few. Despite the publicity regarding distance collaboration and virtual
teaming, the number of organizations that actually use videoconferencing is
If your organization is one of the many who have invested in a videoconferencing
system that isn't being utilized, the following tips should help ease your employees
into the world of distance collaboration.
in today's high-tech corporate climate, resistance to videoconferencing may
be simply the result of a fear of technology. When you invest in a videoconferencing
system, make sure you include an extensive training program for staff. Widespread
adoption won't occur until people are comfortable with the tools. Most organizations
assume their employees are all highly savvy when it comes to new technology,
and many of us assume that our colleagues are all junior Bill Gateses. The reality
is that technology is evolving at such a rapid rate, everyone struggles with
technophobia occasionally. But instead of admitting they need training, most
people ignore the brand-new videoconferencing system that's collecting dust
in the conference room.
Impose the Pre-meeting Meeting
Employees have been meeting face to face for years. You have to gently nudge
them into change. Implement a rule that any staff planning to travel for a meeting
must have at least one videoconference before they leave the office. This preliminary
meeting should help participants determine what exactly each participant needs
to prepare for the face-to-face meeting and whether additional participants
should be invited. Or, they may determine that they don't need to meet in person
By encouraging employees to use videoconferencing before a live meeting, you're
not only increasing their familiarity with the equipment, you're also highlighting
the reason you invested in the system in the first place.
Find a Champion
Product champions are instrumental in encouraging the widespread adoption of
any new technology. A product champion embraces new technology and makes it
her mission to educate others. Research has shown that the higher up in the
organization the champion is, the greater the likelihood of success.
If a videoconferencing champion is yet to emerge in your organization, you
may want to create one. Find an employee who's well respected and technologically
competent, and recruit her. Show her how to use the equipment, cover the benefits
and ask her to use videoconferencing in some of her upcoming meetings. Before
long, the rest of the organization will be ready to embrace the latest trend.
These tips should help your organization overcome some roadblocks to virtual
teaming. Once videoconferencing gets its first rave reviews everyone will wonder
how you survived without it.
1. Meetings in America: A study of trends,
costs and attitudes toward business travel, teleconferencing, and their impact
on productivity. A network MCI Conferencing White Paper, 1998.