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Organisational effects of virtual meetings

Lindeblad, Peter Abrahamsson, Voytenko, Yuliya, Mont, Oksana, Arnfalk, Peter
Journal of cleaner production 2016 v.123 pp. 113-123
attitudes and opinions, business enterprises, carbon, environmental impact, human resources, infrastructure, interviews, issues and policy, private organizations, surveys, transportation, travel, uncertainty, Sweden
Virtual meetings (VMs), i.e. audio-, video- and web-conferencing, could be used to decrease the environmental impact of business activities, reduce travel costs, increase business mobility and collaboration, and improve flexibility and productivity of the employees. Swedish national policy supports the implementation of VMs as one of the solutions towards low carbon infrastructure and sustainable transportation. There are, however, uncertainties and disagreements about the organisational effects of the increased VM use. This article explores the potential effects that VMs may have on an organisation. It does so by examining the presence and strength of these effects in a number of public and private organisations in Sweden. Data has been collected through a literature review and 23 in-depth interviews complemented by a survey in three organisations. The results are analysed with a special focus on seeking explanations for diverging opinions among the respondents and in the literature. The findings indicate that organisational effects of VMs depend on the following factors: organisational perception of the virtual toolbox, behaviour and rebound effects, and the organisation's virtual maturity. The later refers to the penetration and diversity of the collaborative tools used in the organisation and is divided into three stages: substitution, diffusion and integration. As the use of VMs grows in the organisation, different effects will emerge and eventually subside.