Modern IT collaboration and the benefits of face to face time

When a great idea hits or a discussion is hot, teams need to be able to make decisions in the moment and move forward. As the innovation cycle gets shorter every day, companies are pushing for faster, more efficient ways to enhance workplace collaboration, Steve Goldsmith, General Manager, HipChat, Atlassian, reports.

Instantaneous face to face teamwork isn’t always possible. Tightening travel budgets, awareness of the environmental impact of air miles and the increase of IT teams operating in globally dispersed markets mean that more companies are turning to video conferencing as an alternative to time-consuming and costly travel. Innovations in video conferencing now provide easy, simple group video chat – meaning proper group collaboration amongst IT teams. In an IT environment, collaboration can mean the difference between spotting a missing line of code, developing a patch together or creating an easier way to complete a process. The opportunities for team members to learn from each other are increased if people can see their colleagues and what they’re doing.

While it is the answer for many dispersed environments, the traditional video conference, cumbersome and difficult to scale in a work context, is in decline. There is an increase in research which shows its slow death: The dedicated system segment, the backbone of the video conferencing market, declined 6% in Q1 2016, and the global enterprise video market was down 4% in 2015 from 2014, dragged by PBX-based and dedicated systems.

Boosting productivity

The very technology which is meant to help boost productivity is what is slowing down collaboration. Clunky systems – which require time and effort to install downloads, fix errors and update software – are causing frustration among IT teams and users alike.

But the difficulties lie in the methods used, not the concept of video collaboration itself. In fact, Wainhouse Research found that 94% of employees say that group video conferencing results in higher efficiency and productivity, compared to other forms of communication. A Harvard Business Review study that looked at people’s habits on non-video conference calls highlights why productive teams are turning to video to collaborate. When teams collaborate over the phone, as opposed to the screen, 65% of respondents admitted multi-tasking, 44% sent text messages, and 43% checked social media sites. More shockingly, over a quarter (27%) of respondents have fallen asleep on a conference call! In contrast to this, video calls resulted in only 4% of respondents multitasking, according to another study referenced here.

Not only does video chat boost productivity, it also disseminates company culture across borders. If the culture is one of collaboration and inclusion, employees often embrace it with open arms. Video is one more way to break down the barriers that separate teammates geographically and bridge the gaps in communication that slow work down. Teamwork and collaboration, be it in person or over group video, allow for better brainstorming and problem-solving, contextual learning, and the bolstering of skill sets.

Supporting global teams

The modern methods for instant group video chat allow teams to make decisions faster, with less friction. It’s the virtual version of spinning your chair around to brainstorm an idea – but with colleagues who work across the room or across the globe. IT teams are in prime position to implement video chat in order to boost collaboration. This, in turn, should lead to more productive staff who can collectively solve problems quickly and are motivated in their jobs.

Clearly, the business case for modern, simple video chat is strong: managers will like to know calls are efficient and leading to optimised collaboration. Wasting time working through issues with old technology should be a thing of the past.


Edited for web by Cecilia Rehn.