Overnight, COVID-19 created a world where conference room technology went virtual and all of our meetings happened remotely. Now as offices reopen, the question is what happens next: How do you keep employees engaged and efficient, and do you have the conference room technology in place to make the transition successful?
Once upon a time, a speakerphone and projector were considered the epitome of modern conference room technology. Bonus points if they both worked. But if that’s what your conference room looks like today, it's time to rethink your technology.
Modern technology is making meetings more efficient, sophisticated, and accessible — and it can help you create a safer workplace as you bring employees back into the office.
Until a few months ago, the conference room was the nerve center of business. It's where teams met, collaborated, brainstormed, strategized, and hammered out deals in a face-to-face setting. That was the 'old normal'.
Then the pandemic hit and caused a massive shift to remote working models. The global, ongoing health event has proven, once again, that innovative technology is necessary if you want to keep up in the modern business landscape.
Here's how to make the most of your conference rooms, and why these tech solutions are so important – especially for a distributed workforce.
Traditional meeting rooms were limited by physical attendance and legacy systems. As technology advanced, it opened up more possibilities to communicate no matter where your team is located. Now distributed teams are able to brainstorm, share plans, access information, create and edit documents, and work on projects together.
As some COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, some of the workforce will continue working remotely. Most experts believe we'll keep flexible workplaces in place for the foreseeable future — possibly even permanently. But the truth is that many factors remain uncertain. Having the right technology in place will prepare your organization for the long road ahead in a time of ongoing change.
Touch-sensitive whiteboards, for example, let you make presentations, write notes, edit documents, and collaborate interactively — all on screen.
Want to show a short clip or a handful of slides? Many companies have replaced conference room projectors with large-screen TVs, coupled with wireless transmission via systems such as Google Chromecast or Apple TV.
Most include options to capture the final product, putting an end to the cell-phone whiteboard photo at the close of the meeting. Additional options take John Madden-style scribbles made on the presenter’s separate, tablet-style input device and turn them into legible, typed text on screen.
Many video conferencing tools give viewers and presenters the option to record meetings, so it's easy to go back and review the information that was discussed at a later time.
Future-proofing your enterprise isn't just about the technology you'll use. In fact, you also need to help your employees feel safe and deliver solutions that really meet the needs of your organization.
When you want to accurately capture the meeting for those off site, high-definition immersive video and high-end audio reproduction do it well. Digital data streaming, content sharing, and mobile connectivity solutions propel static conference rooms into dynamic locations where people from across states, countries, and continents can collaborate face to face – even virtually – thanks to tracking cameras that zoom in on a speaker’s voice and motion.
Participants realistically experience the full measure of communication: visuals, tone, body language, and posture. Rather than spending a large amount of your time sitting on a call, you can drive engagement by approximating a face-to-face connection. And no one has to request camera time – devices automatically capture the image of whomever is speaking, making the teleconferencing experience more personal than ever before.
At a time when companies are relying on agile ways of working, we have to focus on enabling employees and streamlining work processes without compromising the safety of the work environment.
Workplace planners need to consider the impact that physical distancing will have on their available meeting space. For many companies, that may mean reducing meeting room capacity by up to 50%.
After being apart for so long, employees will want to make the most of their time in the office and are likely to schedule more in-person meetings when they are there. In the coming months, you can expect an increase in conference room utilization.
To meet current public health guidelines, our parent company, iOFFICE, created a tool for safe physical distancing that makes it easy to reconfigure your floor plans and flag conference rooms that may need to be rearranged or recategorized.
Conference room scheduling has grown up, too. That's good news, because it's important for employees to meet in a room that can accommodate physical distancing, book a space for an ad-hoc meeting, or perhaps even find a place to use as a temporary office.
While you're looking for ways to minimize your footprint or maximize real estate, justifying the cost of new software can be a challenge — especially in this uncertain time. However, conference room technology can help you identify potential savings and provide employees with increased flexibility at the same time.
Considering the need for lower occupancy, it'll be more important than ever to capture the data you need to optimize your space utilization. Conference room technology can help you accomplish that task.
Did the group not show up for the scheduled meeting? Some booking systems can be set up to cancel the meeting automatically if no one checks in for the event. On the other hand, maybe everyone shows up and the meeting runs long. If time is up but the discussion is still underway, the meeting organizer can quickly tack on a few extra minutes, as long as the room isn’t already booked for the next time slot.
Many employees will be reluctant to touch shared devices as they re-enter the workplace. Show your workforce that you're prioritizing their health and wellness with an employee-facing app that supports mobile room reservations and promotes more contact-less interactions.
With the ability to review room availability, change their reservation, view meeting details, and navigate to the conference room — straight from their own mobile device — your workforce can confidently access your conference room technology from anywhere.
Lost? If you got turned around in a new or unfamiliar place, it'd be nice if you could quickly correct your course. Some room management platforms work with indoor navigation beacons to offer turn-by-turn directions.
Members of your workforce should have instant access to meeting details and the types of crucial information they need to find which rooms are available, where they're going, and how to get there. Digital signage can be placed outside conference rooms to give employees access to event details, interactive maps, employee directories, and room availability.
There's no need to waste time wandering around the workplace in search of the right room. Wayfinding gives employees confidence as they travel to new spaces, which can be especially helpful if they're unfamiliar with the space or the office has been recently reconfigured.
For workplace leaders, there's a lot at stake as employees begin re-entering the workplace. While there’s no shame in the speakerphone-and-projector setup, advancements in conference room technology can help your distributed workforce collaborate more productively and efficiently.
In the time since the pandemic hit, things have changed dramatically. People don't expect to just get back to business. They've changed the way they collaborate at work and have adapted to new ways of meeting. From now on, the employee experience will go hand-in-hand with the technology experience.
Now is the time to plan your path forward into the 'new normal'. Like so many other aspects of the workplace, your conference room technology also needs to adapt.