When Teleconferencing Does More Harm Than Good

While interviewing users for a strategic IT study this spring, we found out something interesting.

The organization had six offices, a headquarters and five remote locations. Each month, they had an audio conference. All the staff members at headquarters gathered in a big room, and all the staff in remote offices were conferenced in.

One of the purposes of the meeting was to improve the morale of the remote staff, but exactly the opposite was happening.

Members of the remote staff told us that they heard people chatting and joking before the meeting, but they couldn’t participate. They said they had no way to be heard on a particular topic, because nobody at headquarters could hear that they wanted to speak.

The remote staff said that after the meeting, they were more alienated from headquarters than before. Not surprisingly, they were strong advocates of switching from audio conferencing to video conferencing.

The moral of this story is simple: You may not know how your users feel, until you ask them.

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