It’s been months since COVID-19 fundamentally changed everything about how we work together. Now IT managers the world over have a new challenge on their hands: how to provide tools and solutions that keep knowledge workers productive and safe as they venture back into familiar territory – the shared physical meeting space.
After spending months almost exclusively in Zoom and Microsoft® Teams meetings, there’s both a level of anticipation and trepidation in getting back to face-to-face meetings, even as there will still undoubtedly be remote participants and the need to use UC&C platforms to connect with them.
Equipping for the new reality
Physical distancing requirements being adopted by many companies mean that meeting rooms will undoubtedly accommodate smaller numbers of people. What might have had 10 people clustered around the table in the pre-COVID-19 world may now only accommodate 4 or 5 people. Some of the “missing” meeting participants may be at home or working elsewhere, inside or outside the building.
Beyond ensuring that all meeting rooms are fully outfitted for hybrid work, IT managers must also outfit nontraditional meeting spaces – such as corners of large open areas, lounges and kitchens. These spaces present some special challenges because they were never designed for meetings or collaboration.
Individual vs. shared tools
It’s not just executive teams and IT departments thinking about how to best manage the evolving work environment. Knowledge workers are bringing their own worries and concerns back to the office. At or near the top of the list is what to do about shared resources and devices.
IT managers are hearing a clear preference from staff to have their own resources and tools at their fingertips. They don’t want to touch shared displays, shared remote controls or shared control panels. And they don’t want to get close to shared microphones. System elements that may have been considered a must just a few months ago are now on the Do-Not-Touch list.
Beyond health concerns, the reason so many people prefer their own devices is simple – they know how their systems are set up and where their files are stored. This familiarity doesn’t extend to the standard configuration on a meeting room PC. And after months of using their own devices exclusively, they may not want to go back.
For IT managers considering how to support staff returning to the office, there are an increasing number of solutions that embrace users’ own devices. Some of the leading offerings come from three companies:
- Intel – Intel Unite® creates wireless connectivity to shared tools like displays and audio systems
- Barco – ClickShare Conference lets users easily connect to meetings using their own devices, in what they call “Bring your own meeting” (here’s how it integrates with Nureva® audio)
- Mersive – Solstice Conference offers a cloud-based meeting collaboration platform that lets users wirelessly share content to the room display
The best of both worlds
COVID-19 may be the spark that set off the current meeting room rethink. But evolving the standard meeting room setup has the potential to have longer lasting positive effects when it comes to efficiency and collaboration.
Entering a traditional meeting room required knowledge workers to leave behind the tools that they were most familiar with, trading them for IT-provided solutions. Productivity often decreased before the meeting even started. It was harder to take advantage of meeting room tools when using them caused hiccups and delays.
Instead, the shared tools that fill today’s meeting rooms will be increasingly those that integrate with staff’s own devices. We can’t expect that people going back to the office will settle for anything less than a toolset that respects their ability to make their best contributions while keeping themselves safe.
Audio built for the new reality
Are you upgrading your meeting rooms for better remote meetings? Check out Nureva audio. Our systems are quick to install. They integrate with leading UC&C platforms and meeting space peripheral solutions. And with thousands of virtual microphones, they offer true full-room coverage – every inch, every space.
Posted on Sep 30, 2020 6:00:00 AM