The blessings of this technological age are many. In a world where profits can be shy and challenges of colossal magnitude, there are ways to save money, time, and the countless other difficulties associated with travelling through the use of remote communications. If the product or service your company provides requires direct interaction with your clients, conference calls and video conferencing over the internet can essentially eliminate the ‘travel’ line item in your budget, while still giving your colleagues, clients, and the projects you share the attention they need. There are still glitches in the technology which can be stumbling blocks, but the savings available through remote communication will probably outweigh the small inconveniences in the long run.
The Virtual Marketplace
Most of today’s young employees cannot remember a time before the Internet. In their world, they are never without a telephone, a computer, or at least a tablet. The new employee may not even know an office beyond the dining room table where he works in his Superman jammies. The fact is the world of businesses has changed so dramatically in the last 20 years that older employees may still be experiencing whiplash. In days of yore, you packed your people off to remote locations for them to pitch the product, solve the problem, or simply to schmooze the client. This was done at the premium price of plane tickets, hotel rooms, meals on the road. Of course, there was also the inconvenience of having key people absent for sometimes days. The cost of such business travel was one of those necessary evils back then. These days, all of those tasks, schmoozing to a lesser degree, can be done from your desk. This smart conferencing solution for business has, in the past 15 years, made great strides toward making most business travel non-essential.
The Quiet Costs of Travel
It’s easy to recognize the bigger, more obvious costs associated with sending your employees to meetings in far flung places. Plane tickets and hotel rooms are expensive. But there are other costs we often fail to take into account. When Peter Project Manager is in Hong Kong and realizes he’s forgotten to bring an important document, the distance barrier gets a whole new set of teeth. It’s 8:45 a.m. in the Orient. At home in Chicago, the office is empty and everyone’s gone home to dinner. The important document, upon which the entire presentation hangs, is inaccessible.
Not only has Peter been forced to leave his family, abandon his current project duties, suffered sleep deprivation, and cost the company a bundle, he’s botched the sale and will likely be absent permanently. And, need we tell you that your company has something of a tarnished reputation as a result of the fiasco? This is not optimal. Even if your company has the best internet technology installed, things can happen to create havoc when long distances, time zones, and employees who are out of their elements are involved.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
There are some downsides to teleconferencing, no doubt. It is possible to misread the body language of a person whose body you cannot see. Sometimes telephones and Internet connections fail. Sometimes the client just must speak with you face to face. It’s comforting to know that when emergency meetings must happen, you will be able to more easily afford the trip. When you do go, you’ll be able to make a better impression and convey that all-important sense to your client that he is dealing with a top-tier company.
Whether yours is a small, family-owned printing company or a multi-million dollar manufacturing entity, you have better ways to spend your money than funding non-essential junkets. You have a duty to your partners and your stockholders to save money when you can. More importantly, you have a duty to spend your money wisely ensuring the best return on your investment.
As a manager of people, time, and money, you have a heavy burden to bear. No less important is your fiduciary responsibilities to the company as a whole. Getting the job done at an appropriate cost will keep your people employed and productive and your stockholders happy. Through smart conferencing, you can do all those things without seriously interrupting the natural flow of things you’ve worked to create in the office setting.
Justin a business analyst who loves to share entrepreneurship and marketing secrets with the world. Overcoming Business challenges is his passion and he aspires to reach at the highest rung of this field.
Thanks for the interesting read, Justin. I agree that new(ish) technology should absolutely be utilized to save businesses time and money when possible. I have a question though: how do you draw the line separating "Essential in-person trip" and "Not important enough"? I would be concerned about slighting some clients or business partners. I'd also like to suggest another method of saving time via remote technologies: video interviews. Video interviews can be extremely useful in giving you an impression of candidates' energy, presentation, and communication skills; but perhaps the biggest benefit is the time saved by the ability to close out responses as soon as you make up your mind. If you're interested in learning more about video interviews and other pre-employment tests, check out www.testup.com.