The nature of how we gather and work is forever changed. While there still are instances where an in-person “view only” video presentation is applicable, we now live in a video collaboration world. Every space where a video screen is used to present information should be configured to accommodate remote participants.
The new normal is Work from Anywhere. Data indicates that most people still prefer a traditional office setting with social interaction, but others value the flexibility to work part- or full-time from home. Onsite workers need to feel safe at work and be able to collaborate with employees located elsewhere. The workplace of the future must be highly flexible to support employees everywhere.
Social distancing requires fewer people occupy each room, which amplifies the need for more meeting spaces and supporting technologies. Large meeting rooms that normally seat ten or more effectively become mid-sized meeting rooms with a limit of five. Small spaces are limited to two people, and huddle rooms are repurposed as private offices or closed off altogether.
When video interaction moves beyond the laptop on your desk, there is a range of video collaboration solutions. Small rooms are configured with a fixed display, camera, and speakers using simple, automated controls. Mobile collaboration “carts” provide a flexible option. Larger meeting spaces may require multiple screens, auto-mixed arrays of microphones, software-controlled ceiling speakers, acoustic treatment, lighting control, and wireless connectivity for every device in the room for “touchless” meetings.
Zoom or Skype may be all that’s needed, but larger organizations will likely choose a “platform” like Cisco/WebEx or Office360/Teams with room scheduling options. Regardless of your organization’s size, Torrence has the experience and expertise to configure a solution that meets your needs.
Work from Anywhere is about workplace flexibility both in the traditional workspace as well as developing spaces. Productivity is enhanced by providing systems that are easy-to-deploy and easy-to-operate for impromptu meetings—onsite or virtually. Clear, echo-free audio and crisp video is a must. But these basics can be challenging to achieve without specialized components designed and installed by systems integration experts who work with this technology every day.
Ensuring the safety of staff who interact with the technology is also a significant concern. For infrequent users, sanitizing patch cables and control surfaces may be sufficient, but high-demand rooms should be configured with as much wireless technology as possible. Technology can also help enable the implementation of new processes and provide a way to monitor and enforce new guidelines. Examples of the new office environment include furniture redistribution and augmentation, controlled circulation footpaths, technology-enabled touchless meetings, wireless presentation solutions, clear signage, room occupancy indicators, people counters, sensors to trigger actions, and intuitive mobile apps.
The Touchless Meeting Experience
These technologies can enable a seamless flow of traffic in the office environment to limit face-to-face contact, while others limit or eliminate the need to touch room devices:
- Meeting participants can reserve and schedule rooms in advance to ensure availability, social distancing, and that the appropriate technology is present.
- Room availability and meeting information are displayed on the room scheduling panel outside of the meeting space, confirming participants are in the right location.
- Workers are able to see from a distance if a meeting space is available, eliminating unnecessary movement of employees searching for a room.
- Sensors “turn on” rooms as participants enter, and initiate touch-free room/device automation. Occupancy sensors are cost-effective and can be located almost anywhere.
- The “cleaning status” is displayed on the panel outside the room and on the table indicating the room and equipment have been cleaned. This cleaning mode can also be used to measure and track the cleaning schedule of rooms.
- A flat panel display on the wall provides information about the meeting and important health and safety information.
- Look to see if specially coated antimicrobial surfaces are implemented in the office environment.
- A wireless presentation system enables an automated room and allows participants to present and collaborate wirelessly. This is the brains of the room, but there’s no need to touch.
- Meeting participants initiate videoconference calls using voice activation.
- Meeting participants can wirelessly share and present content and control the room touch-free, using their own mobile devices and laptops rather than communal touchscreens. Users are able to control the entire experience without needing to touch any cables.
- The media presentation distributes to displays in overflow rooms for more workers to view in real-time. A cloud platform enables AV/IT departments and help desks to remotely deploy, manage, and monitor room and device usage. People counters send data and provide analytics to a cloud platform, helping to ensure rooms are not overcrowded.
- People-counting also enables managers to understand the utilization of spaces to calculate real estate needs.
In-office and remote meeting spaces need to be designed for mobility, scalability, and flexibility, taking into account the technologies that enable collaborative workflows. Deployment and commissioning of room control and collaboration devices can be done from anywhere, making it easy to scale and quickly add more collaboration spaces as needed. Device management can also be done remotely, providing flexibility to transition meeting spaces into collaboration spaces, and troubleshoot from any location. Techs are no longer required to program each device onsite.
It’s short-sighted to build any meeting space that is not considered safe for in-house users and accessible to remote participants. Look to Torrence to assist with the design, implementation, and support of your video presentation and collaboration systems.