How Can I Modernize My Conference Room Equipment?
Much has been written about ‘future-proofing’ your office in one way or another, but it can be difficult to nail down what exactly it means. For many organizations, future-proofing basically means avoiding the hassle of changing up the technology in your meeting rooms every three to four years. Overall, there are three rules of thumb to stick to when evaluating new equipment:
- It needs to be scalable.
- It needs to be as flexible as possible.
- It needs to maximize the value YOU get from it.
With the rate technology is advancing in the conferencing space, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when choosing out the equipment for your rooms. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you create a modernized, ‘future-proof’ conference room with a few simple steps.
Step One – Creating Flexible Environments
It’s easy to fall into the trap of designating spaces for certain activities, but the biggest rule when creating a modern, future-proof conferencing space is flexibility. One example of this is if you wanted to designate a room as a training space, but that same space can be used effectively as a presentation room or a company-wide meeting area.
So, what does flexibility mean when designing your space? Acknowledging that the workplace and the needs of the company are dynamic and can change day to day is a solid policy. If your room requires a big, time-intensive reworking of the conferencing system when your employees need to use the space for alternative uses, they’ll just say “forget it” and try to find workarounds. This means you lose out on a ton of the value of your expensive conferencing equipment.
To integrate flexibility into your conferencing spaces, you can:
- Use setups that either utilize wireless technology or can be mounted on walls and ceilings while keeping usable space covered.
- Cameras should be wide-angle or, even better, automatically adjust the field of view to include all the participants of a meeting.
- Arrange your conference room to take advantage of the video conferencing system
Step Two – Utilize Complete Audio Ecosystems
We’ve seen how video conferencing revolutionized business communications by allowing businesses to work faster, more efficient, and helping connect workers in a way no one thought was possible even a decade ago. In practice, though, many companies are experiencing the opposite – workers are getting burnt out faster and reporting that they feel less engaged and connected to their work across the board.
One of the primary drivers of this, according to Frost & Sullivan’s 2020 white paper, “Flawless Audio for Effective Collaboration in a Hybrid World — 4 Ways to Make it Happen”, is poor-performing audio solutions. With the unexpected and sudden need for remote and hybrid work environments, quite a few companies were forced to adapt piecemeal temporary audio systems to quickly patch up the holes and keep the ship afloat in stormy seas.
Now, it’s clear that these systems aren’t cutting it in the workplace. The constant audio disruptions caused by poor solutions are losing a ton of productivity and frustrating the heck out of workers. Modernizing your conference room audio equipment means adopting audio ecosystems designed for flexible work environments.
Audio ecosystems combine hardware and software in one complete package that checks all the boxes - flexibility, scalability, and customized for your company. The hardware is made up of networkable audio endpoints – speakers, speakerphones, and dedicated microphones – that work together to provide a coverage range that can be customized with the addition of new hardware or through the provided software settings.
With solutions like the Stem Ecosystem, the included software can provide you with unique customization options. Before even making the purchase, you can digitally recreate any space using the RoomDesign tool and drop in Stem devices to estimate the coverage range and determine what device mix works best for the room. Once the devices have arrived, the Stem Ecosystem platform lets you use Stem devices’ onboard microphones to improve the sound quality by testing out the room’s unique acoustic properties and adapting the settings through the RoomAdapt tool. The RoomCheck tool lets you create custom coverage heatmaps that map out any gaps in the coverage, so you can reposition your devices or change up the seating arrangements as you see fit. Scaling with Stem is as easy as mounting or placing your device in the room, plugging it into the local network, and adding it to the existing room in the software.
Step Three – Investing In the Right Tools For The Job
Collaboration doesn’t stop at just being able to see the other participants, you need to be able to coordinate easily on the work at hand. To get the best results for your conferencing technology, high-tech equivalents of the analogue collaboration tools you used in years past can be used to create that same seamless communications process.
Video conferencing add-on tools that could be useful for your team include:
- Digital whiteboards
- Flexible document cameras
- Tablet devices for annotation
- Wireless conferencing systems for BYOD setups
Each of these allows you to share information with a wide group and simultaneously let everyone contribute to the creative process. These kinds of specialized digital tools are perfect for creative departments developing storyboards, scripts, and visual assets.
Creative teams aren’t the only ones who can benefit from accessorizing your conferencing setup, though. Hardware and software add-ons can help almost every department that needs to work together on visuals, charts, and information for reports and presentations. The key to future-proofing your conferencing tech begins and ends with making sure each person who uses it has the tools they need to succeed!
Always keep in mind the end goal of modernizing your conferencing technology: you need to squeeze every drop of value possible from the upgrade. By following these rules, you can take full advantage of everything video conferencing has to offer, your staff’s sanity will be saved with solutions that just work, and, best of all, investing in the right equipment and systems means you can go years without thinking about upgrades again!