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Australians could claw back 13 days a year with meeting technology

  • 29 August, 2005 12:45

<p>Study finds business travellers are feeling the ‘tyranny of distance’ as travel to meetings encroaches on personal life</p>
<p>SYDNEY – 29 August, 2005 – Australian business travellers are away from their home town or city for 30 per cent of the working year, but only one in five have tried alternatives such as web and phone conferencing, according to research launched today.</p>
<p>The 38-page report, ‘The Tyranny of Distance: a study of the impact of business meetings on work and personal lives’, was a survey of 300 managers and employees commissioned by Microsoft Australia and conducted by independent research firm The Leading Edge.</p>
<p>The study reveals that business travellers spend approximately half the normal working year in face-to-face meetings and an additional quarter travelling to and from those meetings.</p>
<p>The use of meeting technologies varied by job role. When asked what technology they had used as an alternative to face-to-face meetings in the past, marketers were more likely to have used teleconferencing, finance professionals were more likely to have used video-conferencing and more IT professionals have used web conferencing.</p>
<p>“Business travellers consider almost one in five face-to-face meetings to be avoidable,” said Mr Oscar Trimboli, Microsoft Australia’s Real Time Collaboration business manager. “This suggests there is significant scope for organisations to investigate new ways of working.”</p>
<p>“If we could replace just one in five face-to-face meetings with an alternative, we could save the average business traveller 13 days per year in travel time alone,” he said.</p>
<p>Business travel causes significant frustration amongst Australian workers, with 90 per cent of respondents saying it adds to their overall working hours and 75 per cent saying it reduces the time they spend with family and friends.</p>
<p>“At Microsoft we understand that travelling to and from business meetings can cause stress for employees, in both their personal and work lives. As a result, we have implemented a policy of replacing one in five face-to-face meetings with web conferencing,” said Mr Trimboli.</p>
<p>In 2004, Microsoft replaced one in five business trips with web conferences and saved over US$40 million, with greater savings expected this year.</p>
<p>“Our ‘one in five’ policy reflects the views of many of the survey respondents, who consider that 19 per cent of face-to-face meetings are ‘avoidable’. If those meetings alone could be avoided, 34 working days per year could be salvaged.</p>
<p>“There are many advantages of face-to-face meetings, but the real question is – is the travel necessary or can it be done via phone or web conference? What we are really talking about is solutions that help business travellers claw back personal time,” said Mr Trimboli.</p>
<p>The research shows that the number of face-to-face meetings is increasing, with respondents saying that meetings in their office have increased by 32 per cent, meetings held elsewhere in the city or town have increased by 23 per cent and interstate meetings are up by 28 per cent over the past year.</p>
<p>Dr Don Edgar, Australian social commentator and author on work and family issues, said that if new forms of communicating and conducting business meetings could overcome the tyranny of distance, they should be investigated.</p>
<p>“We need to find better ways of working. The so-called ‘work-family balance’ will become a significant factor in business competitiveness and the employer of choice will be the one that addresses the personal and family interests of their employees,” Dr Edgar said.</p>
<p>“Many Australians travel a long way for work – within their own city or town, interstate and overseas. Employers need to support their workforce with new policies and new ways of working, as well as new technology.”</p>
<p>The report is available to download from</p>
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<p>About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.</p>
<p>Microsoft is either a registered trademark or trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.</p>
<p>For further information or to arrange an interview:</p>
<p>Samantha Herron
Corporate Communications Manager
Microsoft Australia
Ph: 02 9870 2316 or 0412 589 951</p>
<p>Susannah Hardy or Susan Moore
Howorth Communications
02 8281 3830 or 0410 613 510</p>

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