Work and Life in the Mobile Society/Business Impact/Meetings

How has mobile work affected business meetings?

Today there is an explosion of technology that allows groups of individuals to communicate worldwide without leaving their offices, at their home, even on the road. According to recent data from Statistics Canada, about 10 percent of the Canadian workforce qualifies as distributed. Forty percent of IBM’s workforce has no office at the company; at AT&T, more than 30 percent of its managers are distributed; and at Sun Microsystems, nearly 50 percent of employees are distributed. Working from different places causes a new question: how is a meeting held? Mobile technology creates teleworkers and also teleconferences.



Teleconferencing is the use of electronic communication that allows two or more people at different locations to hold a simultaneous conference. In recent years, holding teleconference calls has become a wonderful way for many companies to avoid the expenses involved in employee travel. As gas prix have continued to rise, companies are even pulling back on meetings that have their people driving across town, not to mention the trips that involve flying from on side of the country to the other. Teleconferencing services are enjoying a surge in the business world, as more and more organizations have turned to such services to help communicate, while reducing their reliance on travel. In most cases, when people need to have a meeting it is for a fairly short period of time, maybe for a few hours, or a day or two at most. Making use of a teleconference is particularly great for those short meetings when it would take more time for the key executive or meeting presenter to get to the other location.



A teleconference call is the oldest and simplest, where multiple people are able to call into one central phone number so that everyone can communicate on the line at the same time, but they can’t communicate by face-to-face. Video teleconferencing is no wonder why has started to really catch on and become popular with the way that technology is advancing. When people participate in this type of teleconference, usually the organizers or presenters are on camera and the other participants who are “attending: opt receive information are able to see who is speaking. This is also wonderful because the presenters can use visual aids to make a greater impact and to improve their presentations. Web conferencing is a newer innovation that expands the features and benefits of teleconferencing services. This kind of teleconferencing gives people the ability to interact with others through a secure website. Many websites now offer online conferencing at no cost, but the more extensive web conference systems that provide more features will charge a fee for use.



The advantages of teleconferencing are obvious, and numerous. However, there are some disadvantages that should be brought to light. Technical failures may occur when trying to establish a conference or during a conference, which would terminate the meeting prematurely. In addition, socializing is less than a face-to-face meeting, and it would be difficult to build close relationship between group members.



What is the next step toward more realistic virtual meetings? The answer is known as tele-immersion, a conceptual hybrid of virtual reality and Star Trek’s Holodeck. One of the principal applications areas for Internet 2, tele-immersion visually replicates, in real time and in three dimensions, slabs of space surrounding remote participants in cybermeeting. The result is a shared, simulated environment that makes it appear as if everyone is in the same room.