Globalization in the 21st century means that nearly every business will encounter a situation that mandates travel. This might entail attending an industry event, meeting with a potential partner, pitching to a prospective client or simply facilitating cohesion between disparate branches. Whatever the motive, employees may very well have to take to the skies at some point.
That said, business travel is costly, not just in terms of airfare, but also accommodations, food and lost time. It can also be a drain on employees, who might be expected in the office mere hours after an overseas flight hits the runway. As highlighted in a recent Economist article, new travel services such as Airbnb have presented new cost-cutting opportunities for businesses. But the report also noted that business travel expenses have risen in 2015. Given the efficacy of modern communication technology, this statistic almost seems to defy logic.
Audio conferencing is still the best way to cut travel expenses
The Economist made the case that in theory, business communication systems should reduce the need for travel, but in practice, reliable solutions are not as abundant as one would hope. The article specifically mentioned shaky video conferencing solutions as being part of the problem.
From a communication perspective, video conferencing is an incredibly powerful tool. The ability to look into the eyes of a person who is sitting thousands of miles away is amazing. Furthermore, the ability to see the person creates a more well-rounded communication experience. The problem is that video conferencing technologies require more bandwidth, and in many cases, are not as reliable as the most tried and true component of unified communications: audio conferencing.
"When video fails to pay off, voice picks up the tab."
In many cases, a scheduled video conference quickly turns into an impromptu audio conference. Any number of reasons could be responsible for a video conferencing solution having an off day. But when video fails to pay off, voice picks up the tab. It would therefore be unwise for a business to rely on video conferencing as its go-to solution for a unified communications strategy.
This is not to say video conferencing solutions do not have their place in the enterprise. Some clients and business partners who prefer this method of communication might be incredibly peeved to learn that a company lacks a video conferencing platform today. A video conferencing solution that is as reliable as they currently come therefore an essential element of business communication technology.
However, at this point in time, VoIP audio conferencing solutions are more reliable than video conferencing solutions for frequent use. Businesses that defer to audio conferencing for the bulk of their remote collaboration are more likely to have more confidence in the communication integrity of teleconferencing, and would therefore be far less hasty in their decision to drop several thousand dollars on a single business trip.
Likewise, for many daily commuters, the expenses associated with getting to and from work really add up. American workers spend an average of $2,600 every year on commuting, according to the Citi ThankYou Premier Commuter Index. Telecommuting takes weight off employees' wallets, and with a reliable audio conferencing, remote workers can easily dial into office meetings.
VoIP on the go
Even in cases where business travel is unavoidable, or perhaps in an industry where travel is a de facto part of the job – trade show organizers, architecture firms, etc. – business VoIP still has a hugely important role to play. Just because a worker leaves the office doesn't mean he or she loses all the benefits of business VoIP.
Mobile devices can easily be incorporated into a business' Internet telephony solution thanks to softphone technology. A smartphone, tablet or laptop with a VoIP app installed is just as effective as a traditional office phone. When wirelessly connected to an IP network, any of these devices is a portal through which VoIP calls can be made and received. This also means that telecommuters can use their desktop, laptop or smartphone as their primary office phone if they so desire.
When it comes to looking for a reliable alternative to business travel for everyday use, look no further than business VoIP.