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Study: Video-conferencing Ups Productivity of Virtual Teams

MANCHESTER, England, November 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

New research shows that video-conferencing is more effective than telephone and email for remote team-working.

The research was conducted by the globally-recognised Fraunhofer Institute, a specialist in workplace collaboration technology, for OmniJoin, a new video and webconferencing solution from technology giant Brother.

It tested the impact of video-conferencing on the behaviour and productivity of two teams who undertook simulated workplace tasks* while based at different locations.

The key findings were that, compared to collaborating by telephone and email, video-conferencing:

  • Delivered more productive meetings
  • 70% of participants said they were more willing to engage in the discussion when video-conferencing;
  • 60% said being able to see other people, and share documents live, made the discussion more open

  • Improved team spirit
  • 81% of participants said that, on phone and email, the task felt divided rather than united - whereas video-conferencing delivered genuine collaboration
  • 74% felt that decisions reached through video-conferencing felt more like joint decisions than those reached via phone/email

  • Made communication clearer
  • 79% of participants said communication on video-conferencing was more effective because being able to see others enabled them to concentrate for longer

Dr Josephine Hofmann, of the Fraunhofer Institute, said: "Our study found that video collaboration enables effective teamwork - as a genuine group process.  

"A majority of participants said they were able to concentrate for longer - whereas telephone conferences are stressful and make them switch off. This will have a positive impact on things like motivation, acceptance of the decision and willingness to contribute."

Video-conferencing is becoming increasingly popular in business as workforces become more mobile.  While the technology is commonplace in large organizations, research from IDC shows growing interest from small and medium-sized businesses: 29% of UK SMEs already use video-conferencing and this is projected to grow to 63% within five years.

Simon Stones, Product Planning Manager, Brother International Europe, said:

"The clear conclusion from this research is that seeing really is believing when it comes to effective teamwork. In today's fast-moving world, a high-quality solution like OmniJoin helps build trusting working relationships quickly - by putting a face to a name and creating a natural atmosphere."

Video: http://youtu.be/T2MylZuKDWc

* The tasks - allocating desks for an office move and agreeing how to spend the employee health budget - were deliberately designed to provoke confrontation and 'office politics'.

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