Is video conferencing technology good for telecommuters?

Telecommuters can be extremely productive and help employers keep the overhead down because they don’t have to provide the office space.  The Wall Street Journal recently cited a study on companies with fewer than 1,000 employees.  Here is what the article said:  While the study doesn’t claim to show a causal relationship between telecommuting and revenue growth, “there seemed to be a productivity bump associated with [working remotely],” says Ray Boggs, a research vice president at IDC. “It suggests an overall attitude of worker trust and empowerment,” he says.

The revenue growth for telecommuting firms was especially strong for businesses with between 10 and 250 people, Mr. Boggs found.  For very small and larger firms, telecommuting was more weakly linked to revenue growth. This could be because it’s easier for very small firms to communicate in a single space, as firms “establish patterns of how you are going to get things done,” Mr. Boggs says. For larger firms, telecommuting may not have a real impact on revenues that are already quite substantial, he adds.”

The downside of telecommuting may be found with the telecommuters themselves.  They experience a lack of social interaction and idea sharing with fellow employees.  Email; Voicemail; and instant messaging certainly help and make telecommuting possible, however they limit the interaction and idea sharing that can make an organization much more efficient and even more productive.

Video conferencing can fill this cap easily through desktop video conferencing or a mobile video conferencing app.  One popular desktop solution that works within a companies’ network is Microsoft Lync.   This allows a seamless video connection to anyone on the network.  You can collaborate and meet just like you are in the same room.  Additionally, with a gateway, Lync will connect to the standards based video conferencing CODEC in the boardroom.  Keep in mind that the telecommuter would need to be on the company VPN or network.

If telecommuters are working outside of the company’s network or are on the road a mobile video conferencing app with hosted bridging service would be a very good solution.   Companies can also purchase their own equipment with the mobile app built-in.

In short there are many video conferencing options to support the telecommuter.  These options accommodate a variety of budgets.   We found one hardware solution for the conference room that connects seamlessly to Skype for a budget less than three thousand dollars.  The good news is a small company with a modest budget can easily accommodate the telecommuter with a video conferencing solution.