Without doubt the Covid-19 pandemic has intensified our reliance on voice and video communication. The need for social distancing and closure of schools and businesses has led countless individuals and organizations to increase their investment in this communication tool. As early as March 2020, there was reportedly over 100% increase in the use of web conferencing apps in 47 American states. Zoom, became the go-to conferencing solution during the pandemic hosting 300 million participants a day and experiencing a whopping 367% rise in revenue in 2020. Video calling apps such as Houseparty, FaceTime, and WhatsApp became the preferred method for family and friends to stay in touch, in fact 55.6% of all Houseparty users in the US said they had subscribed to the app as a result of Covid-19. Whether we needed to attend distance learning, visit a doctor, connect with friends, or collaborate with colleagues, we became increasingly reliant on voice and video solutions to make contact.
However, as businesses and schools are now re-opening and there is renewed effort for in-person contact, some question the longevity of video chat popularity. Many are complaining about “zoom fatigue” – a term to denote tiredness or burnout from the overuse of on-line meetings, and researchers note that excessive eye contact, seeing yourself constantly on the screen, and the higher cognitive load demanded by this type of communication is ultimately not good for us.
Despite whatever shortcomings excessive voice and video calling might have, however, there is good reason to believe that it’s here to stay in a significant way, and there is an easy case to make to show that it’s advantages outweigh its drawbacks. Let’s look at this in more detail.
The Covid-19 pandemic generated unprecedented upheaval in our normal way of life. The protracted period of lockdown generated untold loneliness, isolation, and anxiety and actually increased the necessity to find ways for connection. Although there was a range of remote communication solutions available, including email, sms texting, and chat, it’s easy to understand why audio and visual communication held particular appeal during this difficult time.
Experts agree that the ability to visually see and hear friends and family–albeit via a screen– offers emotional benefits that ease the psychological stress caused by social distancing. Just as we were being told to keep apart and stay at home, we found a powerful means to bring our family, friends, and work colleagues virtually into our homes. Psychologists note that the ability to see someone’s facial expression in real-time and hold eye contact means “there’s just a deeper level of intimacy and connection that can happen on video” that isn’t possible via other forms of communication.
There were also many practical reasons why businesses, government agencies, schools, healthcare, and other organizations scrambled to implement video calling functionality into their communication platforms. With in-person meetings no longer possible, video chat offered a helpful alternative. During the lockdown existing uses for video calling were intensified and new uses were discovered altogether. According to one source, 30% of organizations worldwide began using web conferencing solutions for the first time due to Covid-19. Take for example, dating-apps. Chat-based dating apps were already hugely popular, however, as stay at home orders prohibited people from physically meeting in-person, a growing number of apps, including Tinder added video chat functionality to facilitate remote dating. Perhaps healthcare saw the biggest surge in the use of video conferencing solutions. As hospitals were the primary site of possible infection, but equally a key resource during the pandemic, medical professionals turned to remote conferencing solutions as an effective way to consult with patients and other doctors while also keeping them physically distant.
While the extenuating circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis helps explain the sudden upsurge in voice and video calling, the tangible benefits of this form of communication ensures its longevity even after the pandemic passes. Below some of its key benefits are outlined.
Clear effective communication is essential to the success of any business or organization. Experts tell us that “humans process visual information far faster and more aptly than text or audio.” Connecting remote employees in face-to-face interactions helps to ensure that important information is not lost or misunderstood. Body language and gestures, facial expression and voice tone convey important data that would be otherwise missed in emails or live chat.
Therefore visual forms of communication like video chat offer an added advantage and a competitive edge over other communication types.
Conferencing apps can offer a host of tools that facilitate collaboration and productivity. Screen sharing and content sharing, not to mention the ability to send attachments and to edit documents on a shared screen in real-time help teams work effectively together even when they are physically apart.
In certain types of interactions, eye contact is especially helpful. Doctors sharing sensitive information, a customer support agent assisting a frustrated client, a sales person on the verge of clinching a major deal–in all these scenarios the ability to meet face-to-face can enhance the quality of communication, signify a deeper level of care, and build up a sense of trust.
The magic of video calling is that it allows you to be anywhere in the world at any time. This means you can attend multiple business meetings in various geographical locations in a single day. Businesses can schedule online meetings for participants in diverse parts of the world at short notice. The ease and convenience of conferencing solutions is unparalleled and with the pandemic still yet to be over, is perhaps its biggest benefit.
When the need to physically attend meetings is reduced you save travel time and travel costs. Of course, nothing can replace in-person communication and business travel will always need to happen to some degree, but there are many cases when you can avoid the high price and inconvenience of travel for work.
The many benefits of voice and video calling means it’s more than just a fad. Its broad applicability to a wide range of use cases means that it has become indispensable. Businesses have discovered they can sustain a competitive advantage by incorporating this essential tool into their communication platform. There is currently an estimated 58% of US based businesses using video-calling technology in some way, and this number will continue to grow. The move to remote work, already in motion pre-Covid-19, now looks to remain a permanent fixture of modern life. According to Gartner, 74% of CFOs intend to move at least 5% of the on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-Covid-19. So there is plenty of opportunity for video chat to continue to flourish. New research by Global Market Insights, which documented the video conferencing market at 14 billion USD in 2019, estimates that it will exceed 50 billion USD by 2026.
At Quickblox, we understand the importance of staying connected. We provide a complete communication backend with instant messaging and group chat, peer to peer and multiparty video calling, with a range of features including file sharing, screen sharing and push notifications accessible through SDKs and APIs.
If you are interested in integrating in-app voice and video calls into your application, find out how we can assist.