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    Collaboration

Create a strategy for distance meetings – save time and money

Your company can save both time and money by replacing many physical meetings with distance meetings. A strategy for changing the meeting culture will help you on your way. We give you ten top tips on what you can do.

Today, many companies work on projects whose team members are spread out geographically. However, with today's technology, distance is no longer an obstacle. Meetings can be made easy with the devices available. The biggest challenge is changing the culture surrounding meetings. Both the company and its employees have a great deal to gain from a committed strategy to increase the number of distance meetings.

What do business trips cost today?

1. Analyse the current situation

What is the travel pattern today, what does it cost? Double that to account for time and other HR costs. Is there a travel policy? Is a business trip really necessary for this specific meeting? Set up criteria for when travel is necessary and when you can have a distance meeting. What equipment needs to be in place for you to hold effective distance meetings? This analysis will form the basis for later decisions.

2. Get management on board and set aside resources

The analysis enables management to make the necessary decisions. Their commitment and allocation of resources is crucial, but so is them setting a good example. It sends out the signal that they are serious about the change.

3. Set up a working group

The group should be made up of representatives from various departments to ensure that the use of travel-free meetings spreads throughout the organization and works well. Management should preferably be involved, as well as whoever makes the travel arrangements.

4. Gauge communication needs and interest

Find out who travels where, and what type of communication is needed. Who is interested in travel-free alternatives and in that case how would they like to communicate? In order to change meeting habits, it can be good to find out how strong the meeting culture is and to ensure that the employees themselves can get involved and have a say. If you set up a target now, it is easier to evaluate later.

Do you have the right equipment?

5. Analyse the technical situation

Check the technical equipment, network, subscriptions, security requirements and support within the organisation – and at the other end for whoever you plan to hold distance meetings with.

6. Choose the right equipment and services

Now it is time to choose the equipment, technical infrastructure and services. Look at your list of requirements for technical functionality. For the strategy to really bed in, the technology has to always work, be easy to use and be available at all times. So don't skimp either on the equipment or its quality.

7. Draw up procedures

Clear rules are needed and if you have a travel policy, this should be supplemented or replaced with a meetings policy providing guidelines on when travel-free meetings should be used and how support, services and bookings work.

Who is responsible for distance meetings?

8. Appoint people to be responsible for distance meetings

There should be no doubt about who to contact concerning operation, booking, support, training and follow-up. This gives users the confidence to embrace the change.

9. Inform and demonstrate

Invite people to attend practice meetings and show how they work. Highlight the advantages for the employee – the time saved helps towards a better work-life balance – rather than the benefits for the company. Some people enjoy travelling and are suspicious about the management's motives for pushing travel-free meetings. It is therefore extra important to begin with the management and explain the importance of them setting a good example.

10. Follow up, improve and publish the results

It is important to follow up on the initiative. Needs can change along the way. And adding equipment or services can keep the positive attitude going. Maybe there is a need for more training? Also conduct surveys about attitudes and calculations concerning finance, the environment, health and quality, and share the positive results with the employees. The benefits in these areas are also worth publicizing externally to strengthen the company's brand.

This advice is taken from the Swedish Transport Administration's project "Travel-free meetings". Their website has examples of companies that are working strategically to increase the number of travel-free meetings.

Find out more at www.trafikverket.se/resfri (in Swedish only)

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