A year after the Covid-19 pandemic, life begins to return to normal. Still, there are still fears that we might see a fourth wave, although additional vaccines will likely be needed for those vaccinated. Now comes the news that we should be concerned about the amount of energy these video calls use, especially Zoom.
The video conferencing platform, which has allowed the world to ‘stay connected’ while working remotely, obviously uses a fair amount of power, especially when there are more participants and when the resolution is increased. Although they are still less than the actual ride to the meeting, the calls consume more energy than most expect.
This is according to a report conducted by the utility provider, which is even released a new calculator who can estimate how much energy these calls use in terms of bandwidth, electricity used, CO2 emissions, and even the equivalent of miles traveled in a gasoline-powered car.
“We’re all spending significantly more time on video calls since the pandemic began last year, when working from home became the norm for the vast majority of office workers,” explained James Longley, Dr. Med. In Utility Bidder.
“Our research reveals that a weekly one-hour team meeting at Zoom with 6 participants releases 0.05kg of CO2 – during the year this is the equivalent of an emission that would occur if you drive 9.36km in a petrol car,” Longley added. “These shows may seem small, but when you combine every time your worker – and consequently shows – spent on Zoom calls, the impact of those calls on the environment is significant and certainly something you need to keep in mind as an employee or manager.”
To that end, Longely suggested that everyone consider when it is necessary to establish a video call with colleagues or a team.
“Not all face-to-face communications are needed, and creating a core email to send to colleagues can save a lot of time and shows – as well as increase your productivity,” he added. “As locking restrictions are eased and some workers return to the office environment, consider scheduling any meetings or discussions that should be face-to-face, on the day team members are in the office. This leaves time at home to enter. in deep business and saves the show caused by long video calls. “
Other experts suggest that we should not end Zoom – or similar video calls yet. This is especially true of the way virtual conferences have replaced mass fairs, including the annual CES – the former Consumer Electronics Show. Flying to a conference or driving to a meeting certainly consumes more energy than a video call.
“When it comes to power consumption and emissions, it’s obviously better to use Zoom or other video conferencing services,” he said. Gilbert Michaud, Assistant Professor of Online Masters in Public Administration within the School of Leadership and Public Affairs at the University of Ohio.
“Even when different types of meetings are taken into account – such as those using high-definition video – different devices, meeting lengths and many other factors, the electricity consumed at the residential level since the zoom meeting is far less than that consumed if someone flew over the county for the conference, ”Michaud added.
“All in all, it depends on the script,” Michaud remarked. “Using videoconferencing could actually consume more electricity if people live in the same city and can walk to cafes to meet. But in most cases, especially those involving an alternative, including traveling by car or plane, it’s better to use platforms like Zoom from an energy perspective “.
The next consideration for remote work is whether the video is really needed. Certainly this has become commonplace in the past year, and with other forms of meetings it can add complexity where technology that existed before the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 – namely the telephone – can work quite well.
In other words, what’s wrong with a good old conference call?
“The jury hasn’t come out yet, but there is a strong argument for videos that do their job better when it comes to nonverbal communication,” he explained. Dr. Amit Kakkad, clinical professor of operations management at the University of San Diego School of Business.
“Interaction with a person refers as much to what is said as to what is not said, how it is said, what the body language of the participants is like and what feeling each side feels from the others,” Kakkad added. “A good part of verbal communication can be achieved with a voice conference call. However, it would mostly fail on a nonverbal level because it is not easy to provide nonverbal cues on a voice conference call, such as letting the person know you want to talk or stop wandering. etc.
“While it’s not perfect, the video would also help somewhat in connecting with the people you’re talking to, not just what they’re saying,” Kakkad noted. “One of the biggest benefits of personal interaction is the ability to develop trust – each party can observe and evaluate the body language of the other parties and use it to decide if they want to trust them. While video calls aren’t perfect, they’re much better than voice calls to see and connect with those you talk to. “
When to zoom and when not to zoom
Video conferencing has certainly helped in distance learning in a way that only voice could not do. And while there are many arguments for not comparing video to classroom experience, it’s hard to argue against video when there is no other viable alternative.
“For many types of meetings, especially when trying to replicate a classroom teaching experience, video conferencing is an important networking tool,” Michaud said.
“It provides a more interesting and productive meeting environment, and many platforms include features like white boarding and the ability to shoot,” Michaud added. “Yet, from an energy perspective, video conferencing consumes more electricity than a phone call, which can currently add up to so many people using platforms like Zoom at the moment. In many ways, what we’ve done over the past year has shifted from of this electricity consumption for the housing sector. “
Staying connected in a pandemic or even when distance is an obstacle requires a solution. Advantages and disadvantages should be considered. Is sending a package via FedEx actually better than a video presentation?
“Everything from snail mail to phone calls, faxing, texting to voice calls – individual and group calls – to traditional and electronic media, including social media – are all technologies that help communicate,” Kakkad suggested. “Each comes with different advantages and disadvantages, including energy consumption; it is suitable for different purposes.”
Zoom in on alternatives
Then there is the fact that some zooming options should be considered if energy consumption is considered.
“Several studies have been conducted to assess the impact of electricity consumption and emissions on different platforms, revealing that applications like Microsoft Teams and Google Meet have a lower energy impact than their competitors,” Michaud said.
“Of course, the strategies used on video conferencing platforms can also reduce usage, such as turning off videos and restricting screen sharing,” Michaud added. “If video and screen sharing isn’t necessary, an old-fashioned phone call is certainly an alternative with lower power consumption.”
Longely’s utility provider also suggests that we should plan ahead before scheduling the next call for Zoom.
“For those who plan to work from home in the foreseeable future, organize your video calls with a strict schedule so that neither energy nor time is wasted,” he added. “While weekly video call shows probably won’t surpass those from your average weekly commute to work, we should all do our best to save energy where we can.”