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The ‘Virtual’ Power From Cost Savings

By Ian Ferguson

The word ‘virtual’ has become synonymous with progress and advancement in the corporate environment. Many view the infusion of ever-changing technology as the way forward in increasing productivity, reducing overhead costs and ensuring companies remain on the cutting edge. While many have gravitated towards greater use of things ‘virtual’, many others have shied away, calling the entire process an impersonal and socially destructive one where people are replaced by machines and programs.

As we continue to dialogue and identify those areas in our workplace that require human interaction, we cannot - and must not - neglect to pursue every opportunity to infuse virtual engagements for the many benefits they provide. We will begin this dialogue by highlighting just a few of these benefits.

  • Virtual corporate encounters ensure that standards are upheld and maintained. Face-to-face people engagements are often times more unreliable in the transmission of messages being conveyed, and the delivery of services being provided.

  • Virtual interactions save the company large amounts of resources and money. Research indicates that American companies fully utilising virtual learning and onboarding options experience up to 90 per cent in savings, accounting for millions of dollars per company. Far less is spent on labour, transportation and venue, so money can be directed to organisational development initiatives.

  • Virtual interactions increase the possibility of more persons taking advantage of training programs. Whether it be location or disability, no impairment hinders persons from entering the virtual classroom.

  • Our world, both social and corporate, is a technologically advanced one. Closing one’s doors to opportunities that give access to technology means we choose to become obsolete and, eventually, irrelevant.

The family of virtual corporate experiences spans a fairly wide range.

  • E-learning programs allow the individual to walk into the virtual classroom via their computer desk and engage in all of the discussions, demonstrations and simulations. They receive all the content in quite engaging ways, as any other live participant would.

  • Virtual onboarding programs allow the potential new hire to interact with the company’s social media pages and screening tools, while the company has an opportunity to determine the best fit for the organisation. Virtual onboarding programs also include a virtual orientation program, where vital information about the organisation is shared with new hires and the assimilation process reduced drastically.

  • Virtual tours are widely conducted in places where transportation, climate and other extenuating factors might play a role. The observer views whatever is being explored through the lens, and is able to get a firm handle on what is being shown. These virtual tours have been widely used in science and medical explorations, but can certainly be used more in mainstream business.

  • Virtual conferences and webinars have the power to bring together thousands of persons in cyber space for interaction, networking and information sharing. These virtual seminars are becoming quite popular as an alternative to the sometimes costly and inconvenient venture of bringing together professionals from around the world.

• NB: Ian R. Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having worked in both the public and private sector locally and regionally providing interventions and solutions for promoting business and service excellence. He was educated at the College of the Bahamas, the University of the West Indies, St. Johns University and holds a Masters of Science Degree from the University of Miami.

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