Risk losing control

Another concern with videoconferencing has been the variety of negative psychological effects it can have on users as opposed to face-to-face contact. Firstly research has shown that the impressions people form of remote others are different from and less positive than the impressions that they form from face-to-face others, starting from an equal baseline. This is due to the absence of non-verbal cues that cause communication to generally be depersonalized. This is an unexpected consequence of videoconferencing and something not considered being a problem at the time of its development.

Videoconferencing can also lead to anxieties for workers, like other new technologies, when it is adopted into the business environment. This is an example of uneven distribution through society, where a study of 60 users of videoconferencing found females experienced lower levels of anxiety then males with the equipment. Further it has also been shown that videoconferencing can have the unexpected effect of greatly reducing the meeting experience for some participants, and make them feel even more distant.

This is particularly the case in situations of sophisticated multi-channel setup displays, which can have up to eight people interacting from different locations at the same time. Such situations provide a large amount for the participant to keep track of, not to mention interact with. Finally a field study examining the effects of organizational status and multimedia communications technology shows that videoconferencing unexpectedly exaggerates the high status of group members.

This allows them to verbally dominate discussion and have greater control of proceedings than in face-to-face interaction. This makes it more difficult for lower ranked individuals to overcome the status constraint to effectively contribute in group discussions. The socio-technical network within organizations is seriously affected by these outcomes of videoconferencing. There is a possibility however, that as time progresses and this technology advances, the results of these examinations and field studies may change as society becomes more accustomed to videoconferencing.

When videoconferencing was initially designed, it was thought interviewers could use the technique, and that this technology would improve the advantage of interviewers in assessing individual candidates. Since people generally allow long distance interviews that previously took place on the phone to take place via video, it enables potential employees to present themselves better in an interview than they would in a phone call conversation.

Yet it has proved that most of the benefits of being in a face-to-face interview, such as noticing mannerisms, directness and general self-confidence are voided when subjected to the debasing nature of communications via videoconferencing. Further, Robert Kraut, professor of Social Psychology and Human Interaction at Carnegie –Mellon University, believes adoption of videoconferencing has had the unexpected and paradoxical effect of “providing interviewees with an advantage in the interview process.

” Indeed Kraut says that “because you are easily able to control a very powerful expressive device, your face, if you look honest, and it’s easy to look honest, you can deceive the other party, and you’re more likely to be able to do that if you have video [as opposed to in person]. ” Another major negative consequence of the adoption of videoconferencing has been the inevitable spying on employees that is beginning to happen as desktop systems are introduced. This is not new, of course, as many companies currently track the telephone, web-access and e-mail habits of their workers.

This again represents an unexpected effect of videoconferencing and is also an uneven distribution throughout society, with only employees in companies that utilize videoconferencing subject to this additional monitoring. The effects of uneven distribution can also been seen in the impact of videoconferencing on profitability of the hotel and travel industries, as corporations seek to perform more meetings via videoconference rather then face to face. According to an FAA-funded study conducted by a team of consulting firms led by Arthur D. Little Inc (ADL), videoconferencing may reduce the demand for air travel at Boston’s Logan airport by 1.

5 million passengers in 2010 and by 4. 4 million passengers in 2030. Further ADL funded studies that suggest videoconferencing will be substituted for 13-23% of business related travel by 2010. Hotels will also suffer as a consequence, yet they may be able to capture a niche market of those requiring additional videoconferencing services with their lodging – if they enter the market soon enough. Although reduction in both cost categories was seen potentially from the use of video conferencing, such a dramatic impact on travel figures is unexpected consequence of this technology.

This is reflected in comments from Bjorn Hanson who was hospitality chairman at Coopers and Lybrand when videoconferencing was introduced who the stated “it was initial seen when designed purely as a means of enhancing phone calls. ” This rapid demand for videoconferencing, coming from the need to reduce unnecessary expenses in the modern business environment, is also an example of the reciprocal nature in which ICTs and socio-technical context are co-produced.

Videoconferencing technology poses many opportunities for organizations, for instance the ability to allow staff to work from home. Due to this fact the choice facing senior executives is often portrayed as stark – either they must engage with the new technologies or risk losing control of their businesses. However it must be remembered there are many downsides of this revolution, particularly that it reduces people’s opportunities for face-to-face contact. This continues to remain a major issue of videoconferencing.

Further the true impact of videoconferencing on some areas remains uncertain, with some empirical studies finding that videoconferencing improves efficiency of employees and meetings, while other have concluded that it hampers communication-lowering effectiveness. It is therefore important to understand that while video-conferencing is an attractive technology; its strengths must be evaluated and assessed to see whether the organization will gain maximum benefit from it. As videoconferencing is still a growing technology, it is as likely the results of the analysis conducted in this report will change rapidly as time progresses.