In response to the Swine Flu outbreak, many experts, journalists and bloggers have been discussing the role of video conferencing in business continuity plans. In addition to enabling employees to meet face-to-face with each other and customers without risking exposure, video also plays an important role in emergency preparedness and response.
This video of Strong Angell III, a flu pandemic emergency simulation, that took place in the city of San Diego in conjunction with San Diego University provides a great overview of the advantages of being visually enabled during a crisis from a variety of perspectives.
Organizations shouldn’t sideline their green agenda in order to focus on the economy. In honor of Earth Day, TANDBERG has developed Ten Tips to Advance Business Goals and Reduce Environmental Impact with Telepresence and Video Conferencing. Although there are plenty of well known “green practices” such as telecommuting, the entire list might suprise you. You can find it here.
For real examples of how organizations are using video conferencing and telepresence to reduce carbon emissions and advance business goals, and learn more about what you can do to reduce your own carbon footprint, >visit www.seegreennow.com.TANDBERG will even plant a tree through The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees initiative to get you on your way to a greener future.
Today, President Obama ordered his agency heads to identify and shave a collective $100 million in administrative costs from federal programs in a budget of well over $3 trillion.
Much of the announced cuts seem like no-brainers — mostly savings on travel, office equipment and redundancy. For example, The Department of Veterans Affairs canceled or delayed 26 conferences for a savings of almost $17.8 million. VA will be relying on less costly alternatives, such as video conferencing, as ways to complete training requirements.
Across the country, the recession is putting increasing pressure on law firms to slash spending and discount their services. Geoff Willard, a Northern Virginia lawyer who largely represents newly launched companies, illustrates how the Wal-Mart effect of discounting is playing out in the Washington region’s legal community. Willard left his job as partner at DLA Piper, a huge global blue-chip law firm, because, he said, he was fed up with the traditional business model that required it to annually increase rates and billable hours to finance ballooning profits and overhead.
Last fall, he joined a start-up “virtual” law firm that he said is much better suited to the current economic conditions: It does business mainly over the phone and through video conferencing. Because the firm lacks two of the biggest cost drivers — a prestigious brick-and-mortar office and associates — he said he is offering his clients substantial savings compared with what they paid before.
Besides saving money for clients, Willard said the firm is good for his home life, too. At his previous firm, he said, he worked 60 to 85 hours a week to keep up his billable time. Now he works 40 to 50 hours and has more time with his wife and two young daughters.He said he has the ability under the new arrangement to work less and make more money. Because overhead is so low, he keeps 85 percent of what he generates, he said, instead of 30 percent.
“I can go to my daughters’ piano lessons and tae kwon do practices,” said Willard, who kept 90 percent of his clients from his previous firm. “I have clawed back a significant part of my life.”
Tomorrow, an estimated 4.5 million extra requests for flexible working could, theoretically, swamp UK firms. New legislation is coming into effect that represents one of the biggest changes to working practices, with the right to request flexible working extended to all parents with children under the age of 16.
In the U.S. we are not facing regulations, but the pressure to address flexible work arrangements is very real for many reasons, such as employee work-life balance demands, environmental responsibility and reductions in operational and real estate costs. So what does this mean for companies?
According to Dave Bailey of Computing, the main difficulty many employers have with flexible working arrangements is trust. A recent survey of 3,743 employees by BT Business and Nortel suggested that less than one in 10 UK small businesses trusts employees to work out of the office, despite 42 per cent of staff polled being confident that they could work better remotely.
The key to overcoming this issue is proper communication and monitoring, recommends Bailey. Video conferencing helps build trust by providing face-to-face communication from anywhere, so managers and teammates can regularly meet “in person” to collaborate and monitor productivity. Even though they no longer physically meet, video enables teams to stay connected. Read more from Dave Bailey about how businesses can deal with the increasing demand for flexible work arrangements.