It’s time to start taking the meeting room experience seriously

When employees return to work, it’s vital they have AV that boosts productivity

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought AV well and truly out of the shadow of IT. The near overnight demand for web cameras and USB headsets saw prices skyrocket (I saw some devices over double in cost) and that’s if companies could even obtain the devices at all.

The need to pivot to online meetings has been adopted well by employees who have remained in contact wherever they may be working. Not only that, virtual meetings have offered other benefits such as the ability to easily share and annotate documents collectively. Plus, it’s recordable for those unable to attend – no more relying on patchy note taking!

When people do begin to return to the workplace, this won’t go away. There will be the attachment to the new tools that workers are using and people are also likely to still be geographically dispersed with continued at-home working. So the office needs to keep up with these trends.

The standard meeting room facility of cheap display, VGA socket and unplugged HDMI cable is hopefully on the way out. Meeting rooms need to be productive from the moment the door is opened. Remote workers travelling in are now likely only in the office for a short period. Time was valuable then; it is more so now.

To get the best out of the meeting room and remote workers, the right infrastructure needs to be in place. This can simply be selecting the right size of display for the room with a clear choice of input options presented to a user in an intuitive manner such as wall plate or in table connections, to a middle of the road large display with combined camera, microphone and loudspeaker unit mounted at the correct height.

The options are numerous and once you go up from a combined video conferencing/unified communications unit the options scale up dramatically.

A good meeting room can also be a great way to collaborate for companies that are sensitive about cameras and microphones being used in the communal workplace areas – for example financial and government institutions. Having a dedicated room with fixed and infosec cleared AV equipment, it’s possible to better control sensitive information that needs to be worked. For the more security minded a system could be programmed that any time the door opens once the meeting starts, the display is muted to ensure anybody accidentally walking into the room sees nothing. ExcelRedstone would of course recommend using a door access system.

Ultimately, the right equipment will allow employees to be productive as they embrace online communications and begin to filter back to the workplace.

There are other benefits of updating meeting rooms, and you can see real benefits when IT, AV and building control combine. Room occupancy sensors are not just useful for control systems to automatically turn off equipment if not activated within a certain timeframe. It can be used to create an accurate people count which allows metrics of building utilisation to be used. That’s very handy if AC is a heavy cost, and it allows you to understand the need to expand or reduce your office size.

So now is the time – particularly if office utilisation is low – to review your AV setup. Works can take place with minimal impact to your employees and you can ensure they have an efficient, modern and safe way to work when they return.

I know at times like this – where many companies are cutting back on any expenditure – that AV investment may move down the priorities list. But if it forms part of your real estate evaluation it could unlock downsizing of your offices. It should also form an integral part of your resiliency planning because COVID-19 has really shown the importance of disaster recovery.

So it’s time to take a fresh look at AV as a key part of your transformation strategy.