One idea is to reduce the dependence on shared devices and shift control of the workplace environment to each person’s smart device. This may not have the “cutting-edge” appeal of other technologies, but it greatly reduces the chance that a virus can spread via touch. Plus, it eases the cognitive load for employees — they already understand the interaction patterns on their mobile devices and it’s much easier to learn how to control the environment around them.
B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Device) is a growing trend with a wide array of functionality beyond just meeting room scheduling. BYOD allows users to control the room’s technology, bypassing communal consoles and touchscreens. Guests and employees can share content however they choose – whether it’s from their phone, tablet, laptop or otherwise.
Additional Components of Touchless Meeting Rooms:
- Occupancy sensors. Forget the light switches and thermostats. With occupancy sensors, movement in the room powers up lights, temperature controls, and audio-video hardware. Likewise, systems are programmed to shut down after movement in the room discontinues.
- Voice Controls. Consoles and touchscreens can be replaced with vocal commands that control settings for video conferences, presentation software, displays, and adjusting the room’s temperature or lighting. And, as the technology continuously improves, you’ll be able to use voice command for such things as “unlock my office”, “order my usual lunch in 10 minutes”, or “schedule a meeting with Tom for Tuesday at 1pm in Conference Room 4”.
- Gesture Controls. Consider gesture for non-secure access control or situations where using a personal device to interact would be cumbersome or disruptive. Waving your hand to trigger an automatic door, for example, removes the need to touch handles or a physical button. But the most radical use of gesture control in the workplace will be to replace the touch interaction of large, shared collaborative screens — whether it be an immersive lobby display, a wayfinding kiosk, or a digital whiteboard like Microsoft Surface.
- Facial Recognition. Imagine a space that recognizes employees and grants certain access without any conscious action on their part. Workstation ergonomics, lighting and temperature settings, and the auto-launch of video-conferencing or presentation software are just some possibilities. Privacy concerns remain, but this technology is already widely used.
The timeline for returning to the workplace varies for most, but growing consensus forms around a hybrid work environment — one where people work in the office and at home. For those employees who will return to the office, it’s important to consider their safety while they collaborate in meeting rooms.
Social distancing measures, face masks, and hand sanitizer are all foundational steps that employers must take to keep their workers safe — but can you go a step further to ensure their safety? If so, consider how touchless meeting solutions could be a part of your return-to-work strategy going into 2021.