The pandemic has made all of us step back and reassess the technology in our businesses. Not only did it force us quickly into an extreme remote work environment, the ‘new normal’ of employee expectations have made us take a serious look at our technology and how it supports the hybrid workforce model for the long-term.
Whether you are a business with global clients, a small startup with teams around the globe – or somewhere in between – web conferencing is something you can’t do without. You need conference room technology for collaborative activities, webinars, and traditional video conferencing.
But you can’t do it effectively or efficiently without the proper conference room design, installation and service.
Here are 7 mandatory steps to take when assessing your conference room setup.
1. Choosing the Right Conference Room Equipment
Real-time collaboration technologies and virtual meeting solutions have become a necessity for modern-day businesses. If your work involves presentations, training, webinars, or remote work, you can’t function without some form of conference room technology. Conference room solutions come with integrated voice, video, messaging as well as content sharing.
Apart from internal collaboration and communication, these conference room technologies have also become an integral part of marketing and sales, facilitating webinars and product demos. There are a variety of options available, Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet, Polycom, to name a few. Some technologies target a specific niche such as virtual classrooms and webinars. While other solutions provide broad solutions that work in many different cases.
2. Standardize Your Conference Room Technology
It is very likely that you have more than one conference room or meeting room with web conferencing technologies. Often, we find conference room equipment put together piecemeal- the camera, microphones, speakers, and remote, etc. purchased separately to build a custom video conferencing setup.
What you end up with are inconsistencies between conference rooms, training rooms and meeting rooms making it difficult for your users and for any potential troubleshooting and support. You may also end up with technology that supports different software platforms causing even more disruption throughout the business.
By working with an experienced conference room AV contractor, you’re getting the best design, installation and service throughout all of your meeting rooms – whether that’s in a single building or in buildings around the globe.
3. Make Scheduling the Conference Room Easy
For maximum efficiency, you want the right people to get to the right rooms at the right times.
By allowing anyone in your organization to see if a room is available or in use, you minimize frustrations associated with employees double booking a room or not being able to find a convenient place to meet. Scheduling panels mounted outside of your meeting rooms can also make booking meetings simple. Scheduling panels also display upcoming meetings and open time slots, allowing users to book a meeting on the spot.
Many software packages even let employees schedule the meeting room right from their personal devices.
4. Choose a Good Conference Room Layout
OK, so you have the right conference room technology, right web conferencing equipment, sufficient network bandwidth, and an easy to use process. But your conference room could still use a little finesse. This is especially important if you would like to impress your visitors, clients, or investors. By giving it a little thought, you can transform your conference room from mediocre to spectacular.
The number and type of mics, speakers, and camera you need also depends on your conference room layout. Here are the most common conference room layouts:
U SHAPED LAYOUT
This type of layout is achieved by placing tables end to end to form a U shape. The chairs are then placed around the outside of the tables. This layout is most suitable for presentations, meetings, or discussions led by one or more speakers and the audio-visual presentation is the focal point.
TRADITIONAL CONFERENCE STYLE LAYOUT
The traditional conference-style room layout is achieved by placing chairs around a conference table. For larger capacity rooms, several rows of tables can be used. The conference-style layout is best for interactive meetings and discussions as it facilitates good communication because of the direct visual lines available to the participants.
5. Go Wireless and Hands-Free
Content from a laptop, tablet, or phone is typically the centerpiece of any meeting whether you connect work teams in a video conference or hold a meeting amongst people located in the building. If designed correctly, most meeting rooms will accommodate either a single or a few HDMI cable connections for your laptop, typically with a flip-top built into the table or at least a plate on the wall.
While the hard cable connection should be a staple of any meeting room, it often poses limitations and challenges. First, only one person at a time can show their screen. Then there is the awkward distraction of passing the cable around to allow someone else to share or of having to switch seats with someone because you are sitting too far from the flip top for the cable to reach. Further, HDMI cables only natively connect to your laptop. If you want to connect a tablet or phone, you’ve got to have a special adapter on hand.
We’ve all become so used to connecting our phones to Bluetooth to hear music or make phone calls, why not expect to do the same to share content? That’s where the wireless presentation system comes in. Wireless presentation systems simplify linking content to the screen. These systems allow everyone in the room to connect their laptop, phone, or tablet using either a downloaded app or the native screen sharing capabilities already built into Windows, MAC, Android, and iOS devices.
Beyond simply removing the limitations, clutter, and distractions caused by passing cables around and looking for adapters, wireless presentation systems can offer a host of enhanced features. For instance, everyone in the room can connect and share their screen, multiple screens can be seen at once, and team members in other locations can also connect and share. Plus, when the room is not in use, the wireless presentation systems can display informational and emergency messages on the screen if necessary.
6. Ensure You Have Timely AV Support
Your conference room V setup will need regular support and maintenance. Can your in-house IT department handle that? If not, should you add staff members to the team specifically for conference room AV support? Or should you expand your contract with a managed services provider like UTG?
Ultimate Technologies Group has a comprehensive and robust service plan that ranges from proactive to reactive solutions.
UTG’s team of support staff offer years of experience with several systems that will make your workplace function more efficiently and safely and give you peace of mind knowing that if and when issues arise, there is someone who can take care of it quickly.
7. Train Your Employees to Use the Technology
One of the biggest concerns we hear from new clients is that the technology and systems in their meeting rooms are not user-friendly – generally because they are outdated. Because no one in the workplace knows how to use the conference room audio video systems, it does not get used.
The good news – most current technology is very user-friendly. You just need an upgrade!
While your meeting room technology should be as user-friendly as possible, it is still important to teach your employees how to use the tools you put in place. Train them on how to join a conference call, for instance, and give them hands-on experience with touchscreen solutions. Show them how to work the master touch panel. Offer both large-group and one-on-one sessions, and let people actually touch and use the equipment under supervision before the big day arrives. An hour invested in training now could save you from a ruined meeting later.
The more comfortable and competent your team members feel with the tools you have in place, the more likely they will be to use them – thus ultimately making the dreaded meeting room experience more effective and enjoyable.
About the Author:
Ultimate Technologies Group is the global expert in virtual communication and collaboration technology. When it comes to high-end Audio Visual technology solutions, we are trusted by some of the most respected brands:
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