22 Jul 2019 by Aske Korsgaard Hejlesen
9 minute read
Conference rooms should not be a place employees dread to enter. Learn how to find the right conference room equipment that helps employees hold efficient and productive meetings.
Photo by Jud Mackrill on Unsplash
It can feel that 10 to 15 minutes are wasted in every 1-hour meeting because of things that shouldn’t happen.
There are hundreds of other reasons for why a lot of the time allocated for meetings is wasted. This is a huge issue, especially when research indicates that a 10% of employees in the EU work remotely part of the time, and a whopping 15% of the average employees’ time is spent in meetings!
AV solutions in 2019 are not just a nice-to-have. They are critical for business operations. Presentation and collaboration technology is an essential supporting element to the way we work; as important as emails and phone calls. That’s why companies must invest in the right technology for their business and create the right experiences in conference rooms. Companies need AV solutions that are highly reliable, sustainable and scalable. We’ll dive into what that means later. But first, let’s look at what you need to improve the conference room experience.
It goes without saying. To invest in the right technology for your conference room/s, you need to take a step back and first understand what the current issues and needs are. Once you are armed with that knowledge, you will be able to find the right tools to solve those issues and fulfil those needs.
Here are some questions you need to ask yourself, to help you make better conference room design decisions.
The primary purpose of the conference room is an important consideration when deciding on size, furnishing, equipment and more. Let’s say that the conference room is meant to be an open space that promotes creative discussions and idea mapping. There needs to be space for standing and walking around, whiteboard for spontaneous drawings (perhaps even an interactive whiteboard?). Conference rooms can also be used for presentations, informational or ‘knowledge transfer’ meetings. In this scenario, the room would require an adequate projection system, audio, equipment control systems and the appropriate seating style. Other typical purposes for meeting spaces are workshops and training seminars, focused work, management meetings, one-on-one private conversations or video calls. It’s important to find out how the room and equipment can support these different purposes.
Who is using your conference room? Is it staff only? Or are external partners and clients also bringing their own devices to make presentations? What is the average amount of meeting participants?
It’s important to determine whether the typical meeting in your company has 3 or 20 attendees when designing a conference room. You can decide to design different rooms to hold smaller meetings, larger meetings or make one big space that can be separated or combined, depending on the need. Smaller meeting rooms, also called huddle rooms, should have space for a maximum of 4 people. The room would have a basic setup, ready for ad-hoc meetings and video calls. An example would be a TV or display, a whiteboard and a webcam. Companies might even decide to make huddle rooms unbookable, giving employees a dedicated space for spontaneous meetings. Larger conference rooms, perhaps for department or company-wide meetings would have a larger, more advanced equipment setup. This could include projectors, microphones, a speaker system with amplification, several webcams and central AV control.
First impressions mean everything in business. Potential partners can form a lasting opinion of you and your business based on that first interaction. The first interaction could take place on your website or at your retail store, but it could just as easily be in your conference room. People can be positively or negatively influenced by the conference room’s design, layout, furnishings, technology and more.
Let’s come with a simple example. You invite a potential business partner to come to your corporate office and pitch their idea. Your company policy decrees that all the employees have Lenovo laptops that take HDMI and standard USB-A connections. But what happens when that potential partner pulls out a MacBook that only takes micro USB inputs? If there is no converter or no wireless screen sharing system, it puts both parties in an embarrassing and frustrating situation, where time is wasted until a solution is found. In the process, your company risks looking unprofessional, unprepared because it uses outdated technology that is not very compatible with others.
The modern way of working, more than ever before, requires teamwork and collaboration. Furthermore, many employees are very techy savvy and desire the freedom and flexibility to work remotely at least part of the week. Working remotely and collaborating via video saves time and money, expedites decision making and boosts productivity. The collaborative work lifestyle is also an important factor to consider when attracting millennials. It’s essential to have the right technology to support collaboration and remote workers in the conference room. As a minimum, conference rooms should be equipped with a microphone, speakers and high-resolution camera with a wide viewing angle.
Other tools and equipment that can improve the meeting room experience:
The Neets EasyConnect
Technology is one of the key pillars of creating a positive experience in your conference room. There are, however, several other factors that contribute to the overall experience. The ultimate goal here is to make employees feel good about using the conference room; they feel comfortable in it, comfortable using the equipment, and they feel like it’s a space that helps them be productive and enables decision-making.
If you’ve noticed, we used the word comfort twice. Why? Because comfort is paramount. A conference room that is used for meetings that last for more than an hour needs to be comfortable to be in. We’re not just talking about decent chairs. Ensuring comfort in the conference rooms also means eliminating common irritants, such as background noise, flickering lights, wobbly tables and overcrowding. Ensuring the room is well-ventilated and has an agreeable temperature also makes a huge impact. Lighting – or lack thereof – is also a factor. Too much light in a room can make it difficult to see content on the screen. Too little light makes people feel drowsy – and make it difficult for remote attendees to see the others. A great conference room needs good lighting; a window with lots of natural light and blinds and curtains to adjust lighting conditions, or an artificial light source that can be adjusted with switches and dimmers. A comfortable conference room is a place where employees can be more productive.
The acoustics of the room also play an important role in shaping the experience of a conference room. This is especially relevant in larger rooms, or modern rooms with glass walls. There’s nothing more frustrating than to have to strain to hear what the person standing at the front of a room is saying. Hard, flat ceilings and surfaces are very susceptible to reverb, making playback audio and speech sound faint and muddy. Room acoustics also impacts meeting privacy, if conversations from the conference room can be heard in the corridor or other rooms. Use sound masking and sound-absorbing materials such as curtains, ceiling tiles, partitions and soft furniture.
Depending on the type and size of the company, there might be a person specifically responsible for meeting rooms and conference rooms, like an AV responsible. Otherwise, it could be the IT Manager, the Operations Manager, the CEO…or the person who complains the most about the meeting rooms!
This person would be responsible for ensuring that the AV equipment in meeting rooms is installed, maintained, repaired and upgraded as well as making sure that users are trained to use it. Typically, if you purchase a tailor-made AV solution from an AV integrator, the integrator is responsible for all these tasks. If you have purchased equipment from other resellers or platforms, you would be responsible for these tasks in-house. In that scenario, it’s even more important to purchase technology that is high-quality, reliable and support-free.
This guide is information-rich, and we hope that you have found it illuminating and instructive. It’s not exaggerating to claim that designing the ultimate conference room will greatly improve the lives of everybody using them!
However, the room is not going to use itself. You must train employees on how to get the best out of the conference room by using the equipment properly. We’ve seen it countless times; equipment that people don’t know how to use does not get used. By investing in a little bit of training, you can save a disaster from happening in an important meeting later.
What else can you do, aside from train employees to use the equipment?
Empower them to say no to meetings they don’t need to be in. By cultivating a culture of ‘no meetings unless it’s really necessary’, employees are much more likely to feel positive and engaged when they are in meetings. This will result in better, more productive meetings, and positive associations to conference rooms. Gone will be the days of conference room hell.