The Rise Of The Teleconference
A recent Whitehall review (June 2011) revealed that David Cameron and Nick Clegg regularly hammer out key Government decisions in a Sunday night telephone call. This smoothes the way for weekly policy planning meetings on Mondays attended by the Prime Minister and his deputy together with a selection of officials and ministers.
The two leaders are not alone in using the telephone as a means of thrashing out key decisions in advance of meetings. With ever increasing time pressures a quick pre-meeting meeting between key participants can often save considerable meeting time. Not only that, the use of teleconferencing and videoconferencing over face to face meetings is rapidly becoming acceptable business practice.
There are three main reasons for this change in business practice. The first is simply down to cost. With a recent report revealing that the cost of running a car has risen by 20% in the last year alone, it makes sound business sense to get out of the car and conduct meetings via phone wherever possible.
The second reason relates to time. With businesses having pared back staff in the recession, many managers now find themselves having to juggle resources. Even with all employees working within the same office, the time lost in getting them all to a meeting and bringing that meeting to order can impact on the daily workload. Meeting by phone is simply much more efficient.
And then there is the multi-site business. Not necessarily a global empire, the multi-site business could just as easily see employees on flexi-working contracts dialling in from their own home offices on differing sides of the town as they could from different sides of the globe. Add in freelancers and subcontractors brought into help with areas as diverse as marketing and HR, accounts and IT and the simple ‘in-house’ teleconference could easily encompass a variety of businesses and individuals, all working from different bases.
Of course none of this would be possible were it not for the improvements in telephone technology over the past few years. Conference calls used to be notorious for being limited to a few people, expensive and subject to noise problems. Nowadays conference calling is a different animal. Callers from across the globe can dial in to a single call point as easily as they can from differing offices within the same locality. And with a variety of conference call options to choose from, businesses can tailor the call to their own needs. For example Callagenix offers two types of conference call. The first is limited to 30 people but can be set up at short notice. Participants pay for their own calls and there is no need to even set up an account with Callagenix.
The second type of conference call requires the organiser to pay for all the calls and therefore set up an account. However, the organiser can manage the entire call via a web system which lets you change individual’s status between speaker and listener or even disconnect them at will. The call is also recorded for your subsequent use so there is no need to scribble notes and hope you haven’t forgotten a key piece of information.
We don’t know which type of conference call facilities Messrs Cameron and Clegg use but if it saves time and infighting then it can only be to the benefit of all.