Topic Chosen: Virtual Meetings Proliferate
Effectiveness of Virtual Meetings as a Replacement for Face-to-Face Conversations
Virtual meetings have become a common aspect of present day business operations for multinational companies due to their activities often taking place in different countries around the world. They are a far more affordable and expedient method of staying up-to-date with how an offshored branch of the company is operating and whether there are issues that need to be mitigated. It also acts as an effective means of establishing business deals with international suppliers due to the shorter amount of time required to talk to whoever is in charge.
However, despite these obvious advantages, various critics have pointed out that companies should not perceive virtual meetings as a “one size fits all” solution when it comes to establishing a means for communication and collaboration within and outside of the company. For example, researchers such as Smith (2014) pointed out that virtual meetings are not as productive as face-to-face conversations when it comes to proper project management. Evidence of this was noted in the development process behind Windows Vista wherein development groups in the United States and India often clashed when it came to implementing particular aspects of the operating system (Smith, 2014). [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
While cultural differences were one of the reasons behind the lackluster development cycle, it was noted that differences in time zones and the fact that the participants in the virtual meeting simply wanted it to be over and done with contributed significantly to the problems experienced by Microsoft at the time. Smith (2014) explained that such an issue centered on how virtual meetings, even those using web cameras, were not perceived under the same context as a face-to-face conversation by the participants. As a result, the dynamism that would normally be present when it comes to traditional methods of communication is simply not present which results in less interest in talks taking place. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
There are some theories behind this ranging from a lack of sufficient body language to how people perceive virtual conversations; regardless of the potential reasons why this occurs, it is still a fact that virtual communications can be considered as being somewhat “lacking” when compared to their face-to-face counterparts. Despite this, it is a far too useful means of communication to dismiss outright. As such, this paper will investigate what sort of conversations would be best for virtual meetings and which would be an ineffective use of this medium of communication.
Why this Topic was Selected
Through this analysis, companies will be able to see that virtual meetings are not a “one size fits all” solution and that they should be limited to only a select number of activities. It is the assumption of this paper that conversations that require extensive collaboration and cooperation, such as those involving software development, should not rely on virtual meetings due to the lack of direct interaction between the participants.
Technical Communication: Lessons Learned from Using Virtual Meetings
Going back to the example involving Microsoft and the issues surrounding the development process of Windows Vista, technical communication is one of the activities that should not be conducted during virtual meetings. The basis for this assertion lies in the lack of direct interaction that occurs between the participants involved. For example, there are many cases where, in one form or another, you have called a customer service hotline to fix a problem encountered with a device that you have bought.
Having to rely on verbal or visual instructions (if the service has online technical assistance) can be frustrating, and you cannot help but think that it would be far easier if they were there in person to assist you. This is the very same problem encountered by the Windows Vista development teams where they had to cooperate and analyze reported problems despite being located in different countries. The problem with visual and verbal cues is that the parties involved in the conversation are operating under completely different perspectives which limit the amount of information that can be exchanged (Levans, 2014). Due to the lack of direct interaction, those involved are also subject to cultural and language barriers which add another layer of complexity to the problems they are experiencing. [Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
While a technical problem could be potentially fixed via an online conversation, as evidenced by the success of virtual technical support teams for companies (ex: Apple), the technical problems experienced by corporations when it comes to their own systems or during product and software development are far more complex. There have been several milestones in the development of solutions to this issue ranging from better collaborative software and programs that allow users to see what is going on in a computer screen despite being several miles away (Levans, 2014). However, these are still not adequate replacements for a person actually being there and do not address issues that do not involve computer programming (ex: a management issue in an offshored location). Based on this, it is not recommended that businesses utilize virtual meetings to solve complex technical or managerial problems; instead, it is more advisable to use this method of communication to indicate something wrong and have someone come over to the location where the problem has been identified.
Whether it is updates on current operations within the company or developing plans for future product launches, boardroom meetings are a common sight in businesses around the world. Due to the increased complexity of multinational operations, many boardrooms come equipped with VOIP or video conferencing equipment. This helps to reduce the amount of money the company spends when it comes to bringing in the directors of their foreign market operations to keep the main branch of the company updated (Eccles, 2010). However, it must be questioned whether virtual meetings are an adequate replacement for the person being there due to the lack of face-to-face interaction taking place.
Unlike technical communication, board room meetings focus more on information dissemination rather than data utilization. While what is going on during the meetings is important, the information that is being given is not meant to be acted upon until after the meeting. The participants are supposed to attend, present information and deliberate on the path that the company should take with its current operations (Eccles, 2010). Based on this, direct interaction between those involved does not seem to be necessary and, as such, the use of VOIP or video conferencing technology appears to be an appropriate method of attending a board room meeting.
Future Trends and Developments: Overcoming the Limits of Virtual Meetings
The two examples of common situations involving communication within a company show the applicability and inapplicability of virtual meetings. Conversing through Skype, Blue Jeans or any other VOIP or video conferencing provider is one of the easiest ways of having a conversation with someone that is located in another country; however, it does not provide the necessary means of direct interaction that some activities require (McCrea, 2015). One of the potential ways in which this can be addressed has been the growing developments in the field of VR development. Through this technology, corporations could simulate being in a particular location via VR and this could potentially resolve the limits of present day virtual meetings that have been identified. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
Through what has been shown so far, the appropriate measure of when virtual meeting should be used is based on how the information that is currently being disseminated is meant to be used. Virtual meetings are effective replacements for face-to-face conversations if distance is an issue; however, they are not an effective replacement when direct interactions are required as seen in the problems outlined in the section on technical communication. Information that is meant to be utilized later on or is not meant to be acted on immediately as seen in the case of a boardroom meeting shows the appropriate context behind an appropriate virtual meeting. Companies should take the information that has been presented in this paper as a guideline when it comes to deciding when or when not to use VOIP or video conferencing as a means of communication and collaboration for particular activities.
Eccles, R. (2010). Online Meeting Tips. Medical Meetings, 37(7), 37.
Levans, M. A. (2014). Meeting the omni-channel fulfillment challenge. Logistics Management, 53(12), 9.
McCrea, B. (2015). Special Report: Virtual Conference Wrap Up. Supply Chain Management Review, S54.
Smith, R. S. (2014). Collaborative Bandwidth: Creating Better Virtual Meetings. Organization Development Journal, 32(4), 15.