COVID-19 had been one of the most devastating events in the past few years, causing widespread lockdowns on a global scale. Since the virus largely prevented people from interacting worldwide, people had to turn to alternative methods for communication. Businesses especially had to quickly find viable substitutes for in-person meetings while adapting to remote work, causing virtual conferencing in businesses to become a norm. But with the development and rollout of vaccines in addition to the increasingly milder strains, the world is more than eager to return to in-person interactions. This poses a huge question: is there no longer a place for virtual business meetings anymore?
The answer is a resounding no. Though there are undoubtedly aspects of in-person meetings that virtual cannot replace, virtual conferencing in business has advantages over in-person meetings that make it indispensable and practical in the long term.
To begin with, it is indisputable that virtual meetings are greener than traditional meetings. A Cornell-led study reveals that replacing an in-person conference with a virtual one can drastically reduce the carbon footprint by 94% and energy use by 90%.
In comparing the carbon emissions that both types of conferences generate, we can see that traditional conferencing has an overall higher environmental impact, largely due to travel.
We can see from the chart above that virtual conferencing doesn’t include a large portion of the emissions from traditional conferencing, while traditional conferencing includes many of the emissions included in virtual conferencing. As global citizens, we should try our best to reduce our environmental impact and preserve the planet. If meetings don’t require face-to-face communication, then it’s best to keep conferencing online.
Next, there are significant financial benefits when comparing virtual meetings and traditional business meetings. A face-to-face business meeting typically requires travel expenses and hotel accommodation, not to mention many other coordination expenses.
According to Statista, the cost per attendee of the meeting/conference industry in Europe lands around USD$557–745 depending on the type of event. That is often enough money for a small to medium-sized business to buy video conferencing equipment and software for the entire company for a year. By focusing on virtual conferencing, a business can drastically decrease financial expenses.
Finally, virtual meetings inarguably offer more accessibility than in-person meetings. Those who have organized an in-person event have all experienced the complex proceedings involved in the process, from booking hotels, catering, and meeting rooms to organizing every tiny detail to ensure everything goes right. For online conferences, you can use a conferencing system and even just a computer to achieve a similar level of communication. A survey conducted by vFairs states that 77.2% prefer virtual events because of how easy they are to attend. Unless absolutely necessary, virtual conferencing is a convenient and effective way of connecting and communicating with colleagues.
Virtual Conferencing Is Here to Stay
Though accelerated by the pandemic, virtual meetings have earned a permanent spot in a modern-day business environment. Through video conferencing, businesses can become more sustainable, cost-saving, and efficient through conducting virtual conferences. With so many people relying on the ease of attendance of online conferences, we expect at least half of the meetings and conventions will continue to stay online even after the pandemic ends, and we can expect virtual conferencing to continue to evolve and revolutionize the way humans connect with one another.