If there was ever a protocol-challenging year in recent memory, it has to be 2020. Due to its challenges imposed as a result of Covid-19, improvisation and ingenuity were required. Some of the results of these will remain with businesses long after the pandemic is over as they have proved to be as convenient and effective as, if not more than, the methods used before.
As result of the recent lockdowns around the worlds, business has generally engaged in more virtual meetings and less time-consuming conventional face-to-face meetings. The time and resources used driving to and from meetings, as well as hosting them, could be put to better use going forward. The order of the day is cost cutting, effectiveness, and safety.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” (Arthur C. Clarke, English science writer and inventor)
Virtual meeting platforms have their pros and cons, but the standout advantages seem to be their cost effectiveness, time saving capabilities and their ability to host large numbers of attendees at very small cost.
The options available to companies looking to use these platforms are vast. The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)’s recommended list of virtual meeting software and platforms for accounting professions and their clients include:
- Google Hangouts
- Microsoft Teams
Auditable voting tools
Furthermore, one of the useful tools of a platform like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, for example, is their polling system, which could be used in a meeting that requests voting or Q&As.
Virtual meetings pass the legal test and are admissible in court
Earlier this year, the Johannesburg Labour Court ruled that it is fully legal for employers to negotiate retrenchments with employees through Zoom.
The watershed ruling handed down by judge Graham Moshoana, in an urgent application brought by the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) against South African Breweries (SAB), effectively gave credence to virtual meetings as legally recognised replacements for, or equivalent to, conventional face-to-face meetings in appropriate cases.
The resources used in face-to-face meetings can be put to better use
The average meeting requires money – from catering, human resources and fuel to even flights and accommodation. You can host a virtual meeting with literally thousands of attendees almost for free, with the only cost considerations being software, data and the availability of a laptop or computer.
This is ideal for businesses with a lot of employees. For example, if you are using Zoom for Webinars, it can allow up to 10,000 virtual attendees to sign up.
Virtual meetings afford a chance to save the conversation online
The meetings’ recordings are capable of remaining available for the attendees to refer back to and replay the content for clarity at their own discretion without extra charges. This can improve the quality of output.
On the downside, the quality of the conversation depends on external factors, typically beyond the administrator’s control. These could include data processing speed, audio visual quality, and the quality of network reception.
Consider virtual meetings more in your business and put your resources to better use – ask your accountant how to achieve this to maximum effect.