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Using Video Conferencing to Improve Company Morale While Traveling for Business

November 18th, 2016 /

While I’m the first to admit that strategic travel can be key to a successful small business, there was a time, a few years back, that I booked flight after flight, accepting speaking engagements and face-to-face client meetings without thought—until, one day, I realized I hadn’t seen my employees in weeks.

Had I missed important birthdays? Wasn’t our receptionist’s tenth anniversary last month? I was so tied up in my own activities that I’d distanced myself from the very company I was trying to build.

Because traveling is so integral to small business development, it can be difficult to find a balance between hitting the road and staying abreast of what’s happening back home. One strategy that’s helped me maintain equilibrium is using video conferencing to keep up with my employees.

business travel video conferencing makes it easier to keep tabs on your company from afar

Video conferencing allows you to maintain your home office while you’re on the road. Image by Flickr user NEC Corporation of America (CC BY 2.0)

Maintaining Your Own Virtual Office

Strategies for improving company culture seem impossible to implement as a traveling CEO. But contrary to popular belief, I’ve found that it’s possible (and preferable) to maintain a weekly routine with your staff regardless of physical location.

I try to maintain an “open door policy” while on the road. Regularly scheduled video check-ins are more human-friendly than conference calls or emails and make you seem approachable. I’d suggest scheduling a weekly “office hour” that you hold regardless of where you’re located. Let your employees know that this time is reserved for them, and actively encourage them to take you up on it—you might want to specifically invite people you haven’t heard from in a while.

If there’s no pressing office business, I come to my hour prepared to chat. This use of time can feel hard to rationalize if it’s been a busy week, but from an employee perspective, it’s daunting to work for someone who’s never present and makes decisions from afar. Video conferencing helps break down this barrier, letting your employees get to know you as a person.

business travel video conferencing is often more efficient than a phone call

Video conferencing is much more effective than a phone call or email. Image by Flickr user NEC Corporation of America (CC BY 2.0)

Video Conferencing Increases Efficiency

You don’t have to take my word for it, either. Plenty of recent research backs up the idea that video conferences are a valuable investment. Frost & Sullivan cite findings from the Baylor College of Medicine that “visual cues help people understand what’s being said six times better than speech alone.” In other words, one video conference could save you five unnecessary phone calls.

In fact, increased productivity is the most highly touted benefit of video conferencing, with 94% of companies in the above study noting an increase in efficiency. 87% of those companies also found that video meetings sped up the decision-making process. This translates to less stress for your employees, who are more likely to walk away from conference calls with a clear idea of what they ought to be doing.

If you’re frequently working from afar, you might also want to consider giving your employees this same flexibility. Companies that allow remote work tend to display higher employee satisfaction and retention rates. Combine these benefits with lower operating costs, and you’ve got a seriously positive ROI.

Creative Ideas to Boost Morale

Of course, if you enjoy a hands-on approach to company culture, you might be looking for a few specific ways to connect with employees. Here’s what I’ve had luck with in the past:

  • Praise be! Praising your employees goes a long way toward making them feel valuable, but it can be hard to drop spur-of-the-moment compliments when you rarely see them. Try scheduling a Monday morning praise session, and spend ten minutes highlighting specific successes from the previous week. You can use your video conferencing service to share your screen if you want to highlight specific projects or client feedback.
  • Celebration time. Have your assistant keep track of employee birthdays and company anniversaries, and host brief video calls to celebrate these. For anniversaries, I try to have everybody “toast” their glasses (virtually or physically) to the honored person while sharing a favorite memory of working together, and for birthdays I always make sure that, whichever side of the screen the guest of honor is on, there’s cake.
  • Listen in. If you’re starting to incorporate telecommuting into your business model, try including employees in video conferences that aren’t necessarily tied to “their job.” Invite a lower-rung salesperson to observe your top-tier expert interact with a client, for example. This practice connects employees with each other in a new way and makes everyone feel important.

Give Video Conferencing a Try

Video conferencing can help you reduce unnecessary travel expenses, too, of course, as well as the cost of time spent away from work. But the real benefit of this technology lies in being able to maintain company morale no matter where you—or your employees—happen to be. This gives you the freedom to make necessary business trips without guilt.

If you’re looking for other ways to streamline your travel process, or if you just want to make sure you’ve got access to complimentary WiFi for your video conferences, you should also check out JetLux. We can give you access to significantly reduced corporate rates for luxury hotels, with suite upgrades and add-on perks that are guaranteed to make business travel even more worth your while.

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