High-speed Internet, supersonic travel and a globalized economy have all shrunk the distances between countries, and companies are increasingly taking advantage of international opportunities. More American citizens than ever are living overseas – up to about 6.4 million as of last year, or over 5 percent of the population – many of them working in international offices for American corporations. Several of America’s largest employers have opened overseas offices employing foreign nationals, and as more companies compete for presence in emerging markets, the number of foreigners employed by American companies will only increase.
Of course, all this progress comes with a big new challenge: how does the international team leader ensure that the necessary lines of communication stay up when there are thousands of miles and half a dozen time zones separating offices? The solution is video conferencing, and here’s why:
- Face-to-face communication is simply more effective. Telephone and email are fine for what they are, but the hard fact remains that about half of our message gets lost when we remove facial cues from the equation. Being able to see who you’re talking to vastly improves the quality of communication and fosters a sense of intimacy – especially important when coping with the language barriers that can pop up when working with foreign offices.
- Video lets you communicate instantly, without the cost of travel. We’ve established that face-to-face communication is simply better than telephone or email, but for smaller businesses operating abroad, travel can be cost prohibitive. Enter video collaboration, which replicates the experience of talking to someone three feet away, even when the person’s actually 3,000 miles away.
- High morale is more important than ever. Anyone who’s managed a team knows how important good morale is to productivity, and keeping that up can be difficult when you’re managing far-distant employees who know you only as a voice over the telephone. “Workplaces need to be seen as communities, not hierarchies,” business consultant Peta Sweet said in a 2010 article in The Guardian. “It’s vital that employers look at things from their employees’ perspective, and provide relevant information and support.” Nothing makes fostering a sense of trust and empathy across thousands of miles easier than high-speed, high-definition video conferencing.
- Video enables dynamic presentations. Want to show a client a spreadsheet, or make a pitch backed up with visual aids? Maybe you’d like to go over documents with an employee or quickly illustrate an argument with a Powerpoint slide. Try doing that over the phone and you’ll see why video is so important to effective long-distance communication.
There’s no two ways about it: the whole world’s your office now – but without the right tools for the job, you won’t be able to take advantage of this exciting new international marketplace. Video conferencing solutions make it simple to manage a global team.
- Dan Lothringer
Dan is a contributing writer for VideoConferencingSpot.com.