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Reducing the need to travel, save costs and reduce carbon footprint using teleconferencing

Reducing the need to travel is essential for many organisations and teleconferencing is considered the best way to do so.

Teleconferencing is yet another buzz word in the Green IT world!

There are three types of internet teleconferencing options to consider

1. audio
2. voice telephone – ISDN vs VOIP 
3. web

With so many products/vendors on the market, how would you know what to choose?

There are 3 large vendors for video conferencing equipment, several for web and audio-conferencing.

There is firstly a need to understand what it is organisations actually want to achieve. This is only known when you have an understanding of the business processes, people and current technology used in house.

Lots and lots and lots of information gathering and analysis has to be carried out.

My first recommendation would be to document the business processes.

A few questions before deciding if teleconferencing is the option to replace travel are:-

1.     How many frequent travellers are there?
2.     How many meetings are held and how often?
3.     Where are meetings held?
4.     What are the salaries for those who travel and what form of transport are they using?
5.     Are there home/remote workers?

I have a long list of questions which can be sent to Green Champions or Senior Management. The information can be collated quickly and the findings can then be presented to show what the typical current costs and carbon footprint would be, and recommendations given on how to reduce it.

Investing in particular technology just because another organisation have had savings is not necessarily the right solution, as each organisation has different business needs.

BENEFITS OF TELECONFERENCING

  • cut travel expenses
  • no weather impact
  • projects delivered on time and within budget
  • speed of decision making
  • time savings

However as usual, there are cons too, such as managing the behavioural changes for staff, technical failures – both of which do have solutions to overcome them.

Instead of using a car for each individual, there are other options to consider, such as car sharing, public transport or leasing company cars.

To compare the cost and carbon footprint using a car and public transport should also be considered…assuming it is national travel. It differs on what car it is and the cost of the train ticket (peak/off peak/season ticket).

Assuming there are 1000 employees in a company who have 3 meetings a week off site during the 46 working weeks of the year, whereby the distance is 15 miles from the office site…..

                                             Carbon Footprint

Car                                     27240 (CO2)

Train                                  410 (CO2)

There is obviously a huge difference in carbon footprint!  You would need to consider the time to travel it takes, as no one can predict the delay in the car journey or train delays.

As well as the installation costs, investing in teleconferencing equipment also requires looking at the costs for licences, maintenance/support, number of additional users, etc.

The return on investment may show after a few years, but it is very important to remember teleconferencing is considered a way to reduce travel and not replace it.

Some of the research used in this blog post for the products and teleconferencing was carried out for me.

Author: Tripta Prashar
Company: Giving Time and Solutions Ltd
Company website: http://givingtimeandsolutions.com
Professional profile: http://linkedin.com/in/triptaprashar
Date created: 20 July 2010 7.30pm

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