BT Do the Numbers on Conferencing

The use of conferencing by BT staff worldwide has reduced BT’s carbon footprint by at least 97,000 tonnes of CO2 and eliminated more than 860,000 face-to-face meetings, the results of a survey announced today revealed.

The February 2007 survey by the University of Bradford and SustainIT looked at the economic, environmental and social impact of conferencing at BT. A sample of 6,000 BT staff from across the company were surveyed on their use of conferencing, with the findings extended to BT as a whole and annualised. The use of conferencing and collaboration services enable people to conduct meetings with colleagues via telephone, video or web, facilitating speedier decision making, increased productivity and a reduction in associated travel costs.

The survey showed that every conference call that replaced a meeting saved a minimum of 40kg of travel-related CO2. Air travel accounted for 48 per cent of avoided miles, but only 8 per cent of avoided trips.

In addition, each call avoided travel and subsistence costs of at least £178, freeing up £120 of management time for more productive purposes. In the last year, this equated to a benefit of £238 million for BT as a whole – £135 million in avoided travel and subsistence costs, and the equivalent of £103 million in total time saved.

More than 80 per cent of BT people surveyed had increased their use of conferencing in the previous two years, whilst the average number of people involved in each call had risen to more than 12 compared to an average of nine the previous year. Twenty eight per cent of BT staff surveyed had used conferencing from home.

Aaron McCormack, CEO of BT Conferencing, said: “The results of the survey confirm beyond all doubt that conferencing can make a major impact towards reducing the carbon footprint of companies and their employee. Companies that embrace conferencing also give their people greater control of their time, increase their productivity and an improvement in work-life balance including a reduction in the amount of time spent travelling. The journeys that people avoid would have been undertaken at congested travel times, so it also frees up road space and seats on public transport.”

The report’s author, Professor Peter James of SustainIT, added: “Travel disruptions and security concerns are focusing many people’s attention on the possibility of substituting electronic for physical meetings. This is the fourth survey I’ve carried out for BT, and the results are very positive – conferencing technologies can reduce transport time and costs, and help to achieve more efficient and effective work and better work-life balance for users.”

BT’s head of environment, Mike Hughes, also commented: “Increasingly in BT our conferencing services are the preferred way to manage day-to-day meetings, enabling BT people to better manage their work-life balance and saves huge amounts of travelling with its associated costs and environmental impacts.”

The acid test: Will BT’s PR staff now cease their requests for face to face meetings with journalists. We think not.

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