Just like most UK businesses, in mid-March we left our Old Street HQ and the entire business is working remotely. Our business is all about connecting our clients with individuals they’d like to offer their products and services - it’s fair to say like most businesses we’ve had some challenges to overcome in the last few weeks.
The news surrounding the surge in Video Conferencing platforms since mid-March has been well documented. Zoom’s daily active user count was up 378% from a year earlier to 22nd March. Cisco’s WebEx platform hosted 14 billion minutes of meeting time during March which was over double the previous month, whilst Microsoft has reported a 775% increase in users of its Teams application, as well as significant growth across it’s cloud services in regions that have implemented social distancing rules. There is the acknowledgement that companies could revert to their old ways once the outbreak gets under control, however, the experience has certainly provided a ‘wake-up call’ to the business world about the benefits of remote working and the need to have an arsenal of digital tools in case of future disruptions.
When social distancing rules are eventually relaxed, we still need to consider the appetite some companies or individuals will have towards meeting face to face. The reality is we don’t know how long it will be before we can attend an exhibition or a networking event, or even sit opposite someone in a face to face meeting. As businesses shift to video conferencing to keep connected, it’s also proved the best alternative for new business meetings.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve heard some great success stories from some of our clients who are new to video conferencing, some even utilising it for large marketing events with over 50 attendees, with excellent outcomes. One of our clients suggested they may never go back to conducting face to face appointments for their first stage new business meetings. For their business, video conferencing has shown an increase in efficiency levels by being able to host more appointments in a day whilst reaching more people - resulting in less travel time meaning they can focus on other work. Their geographical reach can also be extended as well as being able drawing comfort from the green element of reducing their carbon footprint.
To put this in context at OSL, video conference appointments made up just 6% of all new business appointments that we booked at in 2019. Although the surge in video usage may gradually drop off once the pandemic has eased, there is no doubt that some will still opt to conduct new business meetings by video conference rather than meeting someone face to face, and what this period has proved is how successful it can be when executed properly.
I’m convinced that we’ll see a long-term shift in the way video is used in new business.