It’s common knowledge that business today is almost all conducted online, making files digital, communication global, and meetings virtual. But many businesses and individuals continue to rely on older methods of conducting business—which certainly doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but it can sometimes have a negative impact on the environment when it comes to two things: travel and paper.
We think it’s important to understand the positive ways in which web and phone conferencing can actually impact the environment by reducing travel emissions and paper use. In turn, this creates a smaller footprint for your company and the added benefit of increased efficiency and cost-saving. It’s a win-win for any business in the market today.
Web and phone conference calls create the ability for people all over the country and world to meet virtually, without the spent time, cost, and vehicle emissions associated with travel. Conference calling can replace the need for travel in a variety of regular business operations, and provide the means for the same essential communication. This could look like:
- Hubs of the same business meeting regularly to discuss and compare performance.
- Company leaders conducting business with national and international partners, stakeholders, and vendors.
- Remote or traveling teams and individuals connecting to their main office.
But the opportunity that many businesses don’t take full advantage of is the use of conference calls to reduce more local travel. Any company can quickly connect employees within the same city for day-to-day operations, for any situation in which they are not already in the same office. This could mean:
- Allowing independent contractors and employees to work remotely while still being included in on-site meetings and operations.
- Virtually connecting individuals back to the office while they are performing important business functions across town, saving time and productivity.
- Allowing employees stuck at home due to illness, emergency, or severe weather to still connect with their team without risking health or safety.
- Eliminating occasions for which an in-person meeting is not truly necessary and leaves employees feeling frustrated at their time spent traveling to make it.
Making a greater shift towards virtual communication—even if you already take advantage of it to some extent—has obvious benefits for your business operations, but it’s also essential to reducing the severe impact of travel on the earth’s atmosphere. Emissions from cars, trains, ships, and airplanes accounted for 26% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2014, according to the EPA.1 The car and plane travel your company might use on a regular basis contributes to this statistic—but it can be easily reduced with simple conference call solutions.
Cut down on paper
Businesses naturally end up using a large quantity of paper for their day-to-day business operations, particularly in preparing copies and sometimes thick packets of material for everyone in attendance at meetings and presentations.
However, this paper usage can easily be reduced or avoided altogether by taking advantage of the ease of web conferencing, which saves the time and costs associated with printing and preparing hard copy materials, as well as connecting attendees who can’t make it to the meeting in person. Typical web conferencing features include:
- The ability to host a meeting, presentation, or conduct training all from one platform
- Easy file sharing to share documents, images, etc. to participants
- Screen sharing to quickly show content on a host’s screen in real time
- Integration with PowerPoint, Learning Management Systems, and other software
- Built-in tools like reminder emails to send to participants
- Markup tools that assist collaboration through whiteboards, annotations, etc.
- Polling, Q&A, and chat to gauge engagement and encourage participation
All of these features allow you to replace the paper copies you might use for spreadsheets, graphs, presentations, meeting notes, etc. Even if you’re holding an in-person meeting, there’s a good chance there’s someone missing from the discussion who could easily join the call via a video conference—and who would not have access to relevant material if you print it on paper.
But don’t people pay better attention to something physical in front of them? This is a valid question and argument in favor of keeping good old fashioned paper copies around for business and education purposes. But the truth is that everyone needs to have a reason to pay attention to and care about the material in front of them, whether it’s on paper or a computer screen. And web conferencing services are actually better equipped to prompt that level of engagement.
Say you need your employees to prepare for your next meeting by looking over documents you sent by email—and you’re worried they won’t, because we all know how one email can get buried in the masses. But instead of printing copies to stay on the safe side for those attending in person, simply ask that everyone come up with one point or question on the material that they should be prepared to offer via audio, chat, or collaboration tools at the beginning of the meeting. The power of requiring public engagement to encourage attention is a useful one.
The impact of reducing paper usage as a business is huge, as office and school environments contribute by far the most to overall paper consumption in the U.S. Approximately 68 million trees are cut down each year to produce paper and paper products, and offices typically throw away 45% of printed documents within the same day. This has obvious negative effects on tree population and waste management, as paper makes up 16% (26 million tons) of the solid waste in U.S. landfills. Paper production uses more water per ton of product than any other industry, and is the fifth largest consumer of energy.2
At Conference Calls Unlimited, we know that more and more businesses strive to start “green initiatives” and reduce their carbon footprint, but also want to keep costs and training time low. We think it’s one of the best features of conference calls that they are able to both reduce environmental impact and increase efficiency, productivity, and money for the business itself—in a completely simple and readily-available way. Please don’t hesitate at all to call us, learn more, and start improving your business with conferencing—while also doing your part to improve the world.