Businesses reject virtual meetings

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A NEW study has found that companies could cut emissions and save millions of pounds by replacing business travel with virtual meetings – but that the attraction of having time out of the office stops people using the technology.

Researchers from Edinburgh University studied two virtual conferences and found they had considerably smaller costs and carbon output compared with their real-life equivalents.

However, they found that, despite potential savings, businesses were slow to adopt virtual meetings because many people preferred to meet face-to-face.

Researchers studied attitudes towards virtual meetings within two further organisations – a university and an oil and gas company.

Results showed that virtual meeting spaces such as Second Life can be useful in some instances, for example training staff in practical skills.

Dr Dave Reay, of the university’s School of Geosciences, who supervised the research, said: “While people are becoming very comfortable with communication tools such as smart phones and Skype, technology can only take human contact so far.

“Virtual meetings will never replace all face-to-face meetings, but with money tight and carbon emissions rising they can play a greater role.”