Communication Tools Have Transforming Effect - Page 2

 By Jennifer Baker
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Environmentally Friendly Workplaces

We all have witnessed steeply rising oil prices, and most of us are concerned about our carbon footprint. But, how often do we hear employers propose programs to help reduce energy consumption and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? What if, in the interest of work/life balance, U.S. organizations allowed about 20 percent of their workers to work from home twice a week? Policymakers debate options as if the United States must follow the commuting patterns of the mid- to late-twentieth century for the rest of eternity.

As a matter of social responsibility, what if organizations were to introduce videoconferencing and TelePresence programs to replace travel? Besides being good for worker morale and productivity, these programs would be good for our environment and the economy in general.

Even Cisco has significantly reduced its carbon footprint by using TelePresence. Since the original deployment, almost 35,000 meetings have avoided travel, with an estimated $137 million in savings (and almost 69,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions avoided).

Rationalizing Real Estate

Companies have been rationalizing office space since the 1990s, creating shared “hoteling” space. Such spaces provide a temporary workspace at the office for employees who work part time from home or who are regularly out of the office on business. In a shared workspace environment, any desk can feel like it is yours as long as your laptop works and the phone can be personalized with your individual extension number.

As companies continue to cut operating costs, reducing office space (particularly when renting) is an option worth exploring. Much has been published about how to manage this transition from a policy and technology perspective. It just takes a corporate vision and strategy to make it real.

All About Nuance

When we are on the phone and must make a yes or no decision, we often wonder whether the silence on the other end is a smile or a grimace. As a result, workers in negotiation or persuasive discussions usually prefer to fly out to meet colleagues and customers in person.

What if employees were to have tools that capture the nuance of words remotely through a lifelike communications experience? What if the communications experience could ensure that even a slight gesture by either party does not go undetected during the course of a conversation? If a credible alternative for travel were available, would the hours at the airport, the middle seat, the day away, and the airfare still be worth it?

Video is immersive and enables face-to-face relationships. Thus, it helps to build trust among participants involved in the communication, even though they might be anywhere in the world. The life-size, high-quality video and audio from TelePresence provides this lifelike communications option.

This article was originally published on Dec 21, 2009
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