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How video collaboration can reduce carbon footprints

Antoine Goodwin, head of IT operations at MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, gives Installation a unique insight into the positive effect that video collaboration is having on the company's carbon footprint

MHI Vestas, a leading global manufacturer of offshore wind turbines, has always been a business built on teamwork and collaboration, so it was crucial that when the lockdown hit we were able to carry on communicating as normal. Like many organisations, we had to get used to collaboration between dispersed teams, and we had to ensure that we could continue to operate smoothly and communicate effectively. Video conferencing systems in particular really came to the rescue, as they allowed us to keep in touch in a way which closely mirrors face-to-face communication, and stay productive through challenging circumstances.  

Luckily for us, we had already seen the need to invest in collaboration technologies prior to the pandemic, which meant we were well prepared when the lockdown orders were put in place. The organisation is made up of 3,000 employees across Europe, the US and Asia Pacific region, meaning a lot of business travel was required for teams to communicate face to face, which was time-consuming and often inconvenient. Perhaps more importantly, as a global leader in the renewable energy sector, we’ve always been on the lookout for ways to reduce our carbon footprint, and video collaboration was an obvious way of cutting business miles. And once the pandemic forced mass work-from-home, there was also the safety and wellbeing of our employees to consider.

Investing in the right tools 

When investing in video conferencing tools, we knew that there wouldn’t be a ‘one size fits all’  solution. Every business has different requirements, depending on the number of employees, the type and size of meetings usually held, the number of employees working remotely, and even the budget. After considering a number of options, we opted for Logitech. We were drawn to Logitech as they were able to offer a solution for pretty much every room size and configuration, and, in partnership with reseller go2telecom, were on hand to help in the consultation process, advising on the best products for each situation. In various combinations, we decided to go for the Logitech Rally Plus and Logitech MeetUp conferencing cameras, along with a Logitech Tap controller and Logitech Sync, a remote device management system which helps us to keep track of the status of all of the equipment. 

The importance of energy saving

As a leading manufacturer of offshore wind turbines, sustainability is at the heart of our business. With this in mind, we’re always looking at ways of operating in an environmentally-friendly way, and eliminating unnecessary business travel was an obvious area to address. 

As well as providing energy savings, favouring video conferences over in-person meetings can help to reduce business costs. In fact, research from PGI found that through video meetings, businesses can reduce travel costs by an average of 30%.

With so many benefits, taking advantage of video technology as an alternative method for global teams to collaborate, and for quality communication with customers, was a no-brainer. 

Working safely and effectively through the pandemic 

While upgrading our video conferencing capabilities was already a priority before the pandemic hit, the impact of coronavirus brought an even greater incentive to make use of the video collaboration tools we had put in place – with employees, customers and partners all largely moving to working from home in a very short space of time. 

We initially rolled out our new video conferencing systems in January 2020, so employees were already familiar with using video calling, and we were seeing good engagement from employees embracing the system. This meant we were well prepared to make use of the technology more frequently while working remotely, and employees could remain safe and well, and had a stress-free way to stay connected to one another, in turn making sure productivity wasn’t impacted. With flexible working now set to be the norm, these video solutions will also be perfect for connecting employees spread between the office and working from home.

With 87% of remote employees saying they feel more connected and involved with teams and projects when using video conferencing and seeing one another face-to-face, investing in quality audio and video is key, particularly to ensure that wellbeing and morale is maintained through such uncertain, and often isolating, times. We opted for Logitech Rally as it offers brilliantly sharp video and voice clarity, as well as the capability to balance light to show faces clearly and suppress background noise. It also has a function, RightSense, which perfectly auto-frames meeting participants. Logitech MeetUp also makes use of RightSight, automatically adjusting the camera position to zoom and find people in the room. 

Seamless, intuitive solutions 

Our other key consideration when upgrading our video conferencing system was ease of use. In order for employees from different functions across MHI Vestas to embrace video – from engineers discussing the latest turbine designs to executives presenting business updates internationally – it needed to be initiative and seamless to use. 

For us, this meant having a system that worked out-of-the-box, and was compatible with Microsoft Teams, as we wanted one platform to be used across all teams and business areas. With people working away from the office, it was also important that the software could be set up by non-IT professionals, for example. 

We also saw the benefit of investing in a system which had a device management capability, such as Logitech Sync. Sync means that our technical teams are able to monitor and maintain our video conferencing systems remotely – even if they are working from home. With Logitech Sync, our IT team can roll out large-scale video deployments and troubleshoot meeting room problems, while minimising the number of site visits needed. 

The result 

During the roll out, we equipped sixteen meeting rooms with Logitech’s systems, and have since equipped 50 more rooms across the business, as well as migrating to using Microsoft Teams only. 

The results so far have been impressive; by June, 32,000 meetings were scheduled by employees using Teams and the new solutions in the first three months alone, giving us confidence that Logitech’s products are as user-friendly and intuitive as we had hoped. Going forward, we are also planning to equip all of MHI Vestas’ global meeting rooms with Logitech systems by next year; reducing our carbon footprint and travel costs even further. 

Antoine Goodwin is head of IT operations at MHI Vestas Offshore Wind