Strategy for increasing virtual meetings
Nowadays, many companies are involved in projects whose members are spread over a wide geographical area. Thanks to modern technology and equipment, distance no longer presents an obstacle for people to gather and communicate. Perhaps the greatest challenge is changing the corporate culture of meetings. However, there are multiple benefits to be gained for companies and employees alike by implementing a strategy to use more virtual meetings.
Follow the ten steps below to help your company move towards a greater use of virtual meetings.
Analyse the situation as it is today. What sort of travel does your company do today? What does it cost? Double the cost to cover time and other personnel expenses. Does your company have a travel policy? What communication needs require employees to travel? Can these needs be met using remote communications? What equipment does this require? Your analysis forms the basis for making further decisions.
Obtain approval for the investment and allocate resources. Company management can reach decisions on the basis of the analysis. It is important for company management to be involved and resources to be allocated, and it is essential that management sets a good example. By doing so, they send out clear signals that this is a serious initiative.
Create a working group. This group should consist of representatives from different departments to ensure that the use of virtual meetings spreads and works efficiently throughout the organisation. The management team and those responsible for ordering business travel should also be involved.
Identify communication needs and interests. Carry out a thorough analysis to establish destinations, who travels, what kind of communication is needed and if those who travel are interested in non-travel alternatives and, if so, which type of communication they want. In order to change the meeting habits, it’s good to find out how strong the corporate culture of meetings is and to get those who travel actively involved in the process. Set a target now. This will make it easier to assess the process later on.
Analyse the technical requirements. Check what technical equipment, networks, subscribed services, safety and security requirements and support your company already has. Check the same for the parties with whom you are planning to hold virtual meetings.
Select the right equipment and services. It’s now time to select the right equipment, technical infrastructure and any services required. Go through your list of requirements for technical functionality that has been set up. To ensure your new strategy is effective, the technology you choose must always be totally reliable and simple to use. It must also always be accessible, so don’t try to cut corners on equipment or quality.
Establish routines. It is essential to have clear rules. If your company has a travel policy, it should be extended or substituted with a policy for meetings. This should provide guidelines about virtual meetings and when they should be used, and also procedures for support, service and bookings.
Appoint individuals to be in charge. There should be no uncertainties about whom to contact when it comes to operations, bookings, support, training and reviews. This gives users the confidence to engage in change.
Inform and demonstrate. Invite employees to hands-on meetings to demonstrate what is involved. Explain what advantages employees can expect to gain – the time saved gives a balance between work and personal life – rather than the financial benefits to the company. Some employees want to travel and are wary of management’s non-travel initiatives. This is why it is particularly important to begin with the members of company management and explain to them the importance of setting a good example in order to achieve successful results.
Follow up, improve and present results. It is important to follow up the process. Requirements may have changed and by extending equipment or services the company can continue to keep up the positive attitude. There may be a need for more training. You should also conduct attitude surveys and perform economic, environmental, health and quality evaluations and circulate the positive results to the employees. It is also an excellent idea to make information about obvious gains in these areas available for external distribution as this will help to strengthen the company’s brand.
This advice comes from the Swedish Transport Administration’s project “Travel-free meetings”. The Administration has published a detailed guide explaining how to proceed with this process and what pitfalls to watch out for. If you visit the Administration’s website you’ll find examples of companies that are implementing strategic programmes to increase the number of virtual meetings in their organisations.
Find out more at www.trafikverket.se/resfri
Source: Swedish Transport Administration