Sir Philip Green announced this week the findings from his efficiency review of Government spending focusing on commodity procurement, property and major contracts. One of the key findings was the amount of money spent on travel by central Government – £551m annually following a thorough review with over £38m spent on 400,000 hotel rooms in London a year.
The report advises that by mandating the use of video conferencing and halving the number of nights in hotel rooms per year could save an estimated £50m a year (based on travel and accommodation at £250 per person per night).
Private sector businesses are already realising huge savings by reducing travel through the increased use of video conferencing and Neil Crockett, managing director, Public Sector, 2012, Cisco UKI comments: “The private sector has already proven the huge cost savings that can be made when video is used to minimise travel to meetings. The report reinforces that these savings are transferable to the public sector. Physical attendance will be appropriate in some cases but video meetings can replace the need to travel in many instances. With video systems already inexistence in Whitehall departments, the Government needs to promote internally the use of video, focusing on the ease of use and linking to travel policies, so civil servants make better use of it as an alternative. If Government increases its use of video for meetings it will reduce the amount of civil service travel and drive overall efficiency, realising huge cost savings.”
In Cisco’s experience of providing video and telepresence to organisations globally, the most successful implementations happen when video is provided as an alternative to travel and its use mandated. This needs to be taken into consideration when Government looks to review its travel policies to ensure that civil servants reduce their travel whilst maintaining their effectiveness.