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How to take charge of your meeting spaces

Photoshoot with Karl Deady and Steve Franklin
25th September 2018

Cinos’ Steve Franklin highlights four key steps to ensuring your meeting rooms enable conversations, collaboration and decision making.

Meeting rooms are where ideas are sparked, decisions are made and business is won, so it’s important that users can come together and collaborate. Without easy-to-use and interactive AV technologies, meetings can become repetitive and uninspiring for attendees.

An effective meeting room will combine AV and communication technologies to boost productivity and improve communication. Features such as display technology, audio conferencing and the ability to share content are the building blocks of an efficient infrastructure. Whatever the size of your room or budget, it’s important to keep the following elements in mind to create spaces that drive real value from start to finish.

Consistency and familiarity of solutions

Changes to workplace technologies can have a big impact on the productivity of employees. When implementing new meeting room technology, organisations should look for solutions that are easy to use and offer a consistent user experience. It’s important that the transition is seamless, allowing employees to focus on the tasks at hand rather than get distracted by technology challenges.

With more companies using Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business and/or Cisco Webex Teams, the need for consistency across the entire organisation has never been greater. From desktop applications to meeting room interfaces, each product set will have solutions designed for every size space. Organisations should look towards scalable solutions that can grow with their business needs and offer employees the familiarity they have come to expect. The benefit here for businesses is that once employees know how to use one, they know how to use them all.

Consider the space you have to work with

Meeting rooms are important workspaces, so the room’s acoustics need to be considered. Echoing and poor sound quality will leave users with frustrating experiences and unproductive meetings. Whether it’s installing acoustic panels or adaptive technologies, a productive space needs to deliver an audio experience that matches the visual.

The size of a meeting space is also a major factor. Larger spaces tend to be more presenter based meaning the audience’s attention is being drawn to the front of the room and the presenter. Enhanced display technology such as dual screens, LED walls and interactive screens are a powerful way to present to larger audiences. In some cases, video walls can be used in bigger meeting spaces. Generally, these displays offer better and more accessible connectivity and give presenters interactive and collaborative tools to drive engagement.

On the other hand, smaller spaces tend to be more interactive as well as informal – the technology usually reflects this. Touchscreens are more prevalent and it’s worth considering implementing desk mounted microphones so that participants can ‘huddle’ around a presentation that’s central to the room.

Integrated control systems

Traditionally, meeting spaces would house a user interface in the form of a tablet, enabling participants to control the room equipment. This interface would often be unique to the room and the look and feel could be dictated by the installer – making training essential and generally impacting on the whole meeting experience. While these types of control units are still in use, meeting rooms are becoming more intelligent and automated than ever before.

The key to creating seamless experiences lies in intuitive user interfaces or control room peripherals. Manufacturers are integrating more and more ‘intelligence’ into meeting room equipment such as movement detection, auto power on/off or auto signal detection. This functionality can enhance the user experience and drive real value as well as helping organisations to save money and reduce their carbon footprint.

Video conferencing and unified communication

Video conferencing and unified communication solutions can turn even small huddle rooms into collaborative workspaces. Ideally, the conferencing solution would be one that users are familiar with such as Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business. The ability to walk into a room and instantly start a session with an interface that users are familiar with not only reduces wasted time but also user frustrations.

Video conference technology such as telepresence not only elevates the user experience by helping people feel like they’re in the same board room but also allows participants to focus on what matters most, the meeting. Room based video conferencing systems can easily be installed into existing meeting spaces and integrated with control systems. Additionally, these can be partnered with smart technology enabling audio, video and lighting management at the touch of a button.

At the end of the day nobody wants to be unplugging cables or calling in for support, so it’s important that the technology placed in meeting rooms is intuitive and includes automatic setup features. By introducing consistent, intelligent and reliable technologies across all types of spaces, organisations can expect to see more productive and collaborative spaces, allowing them to take charge of their meeting rooms and deliver valuable experiences to employees and customers alike.

Steve Franklin is executive director at Cinos