It might have been a little while since you experienced it, but you’ll no doubt be familiar with the classic meeting room setting, a hub within your office where groups of people gather to share ideas, collaborate on projects and make decisions together.
In recent months, these physical meetings have been put to one side, the result of remote working, with businesses instead communicating via video conferencing platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Cisco Webex.
For many, it’s brought long-term strategy into sharp focus as plans for a return to work become more real and considerations surrounding the configuration of traditional office space emerge. These two worlds must combine in the interest of productivity and employee safety.
Thankfully, this hybrid meeting experience is made possible by an array of smart meeting room technology.
Even within the most basic meeting room, collaborative technology has been present for several years. This has typically been in the form of a meeting room conference phone, where non-attendees could dial in via a voice platform to join the wider discussion.
Although a straightforward and a functional solution, it is some way off the rich and connected experience your people have become accustomed to, especially during lockdown. However, recent audio and visual (AV) innovation has made it easier and more economical to create a better experience for both remote and in-person meeting room attendees. Smart screens, intelligent cameras and high-quality microphones are simple solutions that go a long way in enriching the meeting room experience for all involved.
While in-person meetings remain less practical for all attendees, the role of AV technology in meeting room spaces looks set to grow. Here’s why it’s climbing the return-to-work agenda:
1) Take advantage of new habits
In recent months many businesses have embraced video communication platforms, with the likes of Zoom, Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams all experiencing an increased volume of use in the race for collaboration tool supremacy.
As a result, the technology has changed the way your people communicate with their colleagues, as well as the way they prioritise their time. Virtual meetings are now their go-to method of communication, and with large numbers of the workforce still expected to continue working remotely indefinitely, ensuring that those users can continue to use these tools to connect with their office based colleagues is key to building on these new habits.
It’s therefore important to kit out your meeting rooms with appropriate AV technology, and to standardise a preferred video platform, so that your team can continue to communicate easily and effectively with the best experience possible.
2) Support social distancing
Social distancing rules will play their part in the workplace – both in the short-term, but possibly in the long-term also. The expectation is that the number of on-site staff will be reduced or even capped in some cases, and those who can attend will need to function at a safe distance to others.
This means that traditional meeting rooms will be subject to greater restrictions. For example, a meeting room that was suitable for 10-12 people at a time may now only be usable for half of that capacity, which might see that a single meeting requires the use of multiple rooms, as well as the interaction between both office-based and remote team members.
With the latest smart meeting room technology, noise cancelling microphones can reduce the background noise experienced by those spaced further apart, while also picking up the contributions of participants sat furthest away with greater clarity. Intelligent cameras can also take a wider angled visual of a single meeting room table and crop the participants side by side to provide a more immersive experience.
3) Provide a professional platform
While working from home offers many benefits such as a more comfortable working environment and a better work life balance, the unwanted distractions and disruptions do not make for the most professional backdrop for important meetings and calls.
Your office provides a more professional environment to conduct important business, but this is impacted when multiple participants have to connect individually even when they are working within the same space. This is especially difficult when the content for a particular meeting is confidential or requires the input of multiple remote participants from other branches or organisations. In the current climate it isn’t practical for stakeholders from several locations to meet in one place, but providing the facility for those working within the same office to join a meeting from a single meeting room provides a more professional front, avoids additional disruptions and delivers a better overall experience for every participant.
With a wide range of smart meeting room and other AV technology available, you can create a unique experience to meet the specific demands of your business, helping your users stay connected without compromising their safety.
We’ve already supported several customers with meeting room technology as they shape their return to work plans. Advising on solutions from a stable of world-class vendors, we can help you to evaluate investments as you plan how your team collaborates both now and in the future.
To learn more, simply get in touch with a member of the team.