A decade ago, executives looked on video conferencing as a way to reduce escalating travel costs. Today, more compelling reasons to embrace video conferencing are gaining attention: organizational growth and competitiveness.

CEOs are now looking at a mix of markets for expansion opportunities around the world, according to PwC. At the same time, they’re contending with fierce competition for talent. These macro trends mean businesses must embrace more effective means of communications to identify market opportunities early, accelerate go-to-market initiatives and attract top talent.

Video conferencing helps companies achieve aggressive goals in highly competitive markets because it allows organizations to accomplish more in less time, and with greater success.

Yet, there are still many businesses that haven’t fully embraced video conferencing as a regular communications tool. This may be because video is often perceived as a costly and sometimes awkward communications vehicle. But that view is changing, especially as younger generations move into the workforce, the cloud dramatically lowers costs, and innovation makes video conferencing easier to use.

If your organization is still using video conferencing in a limited way, here are five reasons to up the ante.

Stronger Team Cohesion
Since 65 percent of communication is nonverbal, video conferencing offers a distinct advantage: Being able to see each other creates stronger connections among team members. In fact, 87 percent of remote users say they feel more connected to their team and process when using video conferencing, reports Gigaom.

That’s because video enables team members to build the kind of rapport that would be more difficult on audio. For example, employees can discover common interests by seeing each other’s environments. A background picture of Hawaii can spark a conversation about common vacation experiences. This idle chitchat may seem like a waste of time, but it’s an important contributor to effective team building.

Better Collaboration Leads to Higher Productivity
Dispersed teams offer a distinct talent advantage, since they allow businesses to hire the best talent regardless of location. However, they can also put productivity at risk. Poor communication can slow progress on projects, but video conferencing mitigates that risk by enabling employees to engage more fully in work discussions.

For example, distractions such as multitasking are minimized because video encourages focus, so participants can explore issues more deeply. Further, facial cues and body language are easier to read, even if your team is spread across time zones and cultures. Differences that are subtle in practice but substantial in overall effect can contribute to improved collaboration and higher productivity.

Bring Products to Market Faster
Another challenge dispersed teams face is problem resolution, especially when critical expertise isn’t centrally located. But experts can be asked to join impromptu video conference calls to resolve obstacles immediately, thus allowing projects to move ahead more quickly. By eliminating unnecessary delays, video conferencing contributes to faster go-to-market strategies.

Attract Top Talent Among Younger Workers
Both Millennials and their younger counterparts, Generation Z, are naturally attuned to video as a communication channel. They are the FaceTime, YouTube and Snapchat generations and, as a result, they simply expect video to be a normal, everyday feature of the workplace. To attract top talent among these generations, businesses will need to meet new expectations for communications standards. The bottom line: Video conferencing is no longer a “nice-to-have,” but a standard requirement.

The Cloud Makes Video More Affordable
In the past, businesses needed to purchase expensive audio and video equipment if they wanted to harness video conferencing. But today’s cloud-based infrastructure removes what were once costly barriers. Now employees can join video conferences with one click directly from their desktop, mobile phone or tablet.

Every one of these reasons warrants putting video conferencing on the fast track. If competitiveness matters for your business – and it likely does – then it’s time to change your culture and make video conferencing a routine business practice.

ShoreTel recently announced a new video collaboration partnership with StarLeaf. Learn how StarLeaf technology integrated with ShoreTel Connect CLOUD will enable multiple users to join a video call with one click.