Towards travel-free business meetings

Published Feb 15, 2011

Many companies have clear guidelines to ensure that the number of business trips will decrease in favour of travel-free video meetings. A research group at KTH has looked closely at the factors that determine how meetings take place and under what circumstances they are substituted by video-mediated communication.

The researchers have collaborated with four major media companies in Sweden in an attempt to identify motivational factors and barriers to video meetings (including videoconferencing, telepresence and video-call solutions).

“We quickly found that video meetings is replacing business trips primarily to save time and money,” says Minna Räsänen, one of the researchers at the Centre for Sustainable Communications (CESC) at KTH. The environment is less important when companies choose between a business trip or a video meeting, even though many guidelines highlight the environment as one of the main arguments.

Other, less tangible factors that determine the choice are often individual. This may include the employee’s fear of problems with technology or uncomfortable situations when cameras, headsets and other equipment have to be handled.

A well-thought-out choice of meeting room is also important.

“It may be a mistake to place the video meeting equipment in the most popular meeting room. This means that video meetings compete with regular physical meetings for room space,” says Minna Räsänen.

It is efficient, both economically and environmentally, if video meeting equipment is located in rooms that are available and bookable for many employees. This increases the chance that video meetings increase in number and that the purchase of equipment will be profitable, and that more trips are replaced in practice.

For more information, contact Bernhard Huber, communications manager at CESC: tel +46-8-790 64 52 or bhuber@kth.se.

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The article Meeting at a distance: Experiences of media companies in Sweden (doi:10.1016/j.techsoc.2010.10.002) has recently been published in the journal Technology och Society and is a result of CESC’s research project Newspaper companies and ICT from an environmental perspective. The project was conducted during 2009 and 2010 in cooperation with Bonnier, Stampen and the Swedish Media Publishers Association (TU).

CESCs research on travel-free meetings is continued in the ongoing project Drivers and barriers for mediated meetings.

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