As we return to our workspaces many of us are quickly realizing that the functionality of conference and huddle rooms may no longer be up to par given the new reliance on virtual collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx and other video conferencing software. The need to create effective spaces, whether enclosed or open, to support video calls with remote participants is essential today. With the increase in working from home, limited client face-to-face interaction and travel restrictions, now is the time to equip your shared spaces to connect in-office and remote participants easily and intuitively.
Here are three ideas to retrofit your current meeting spaces to get individuals and teams up and running for virtual conference calls:
Add a webcam or soundbar to pair with an existing display or monitor.
Webcams are an easy, cost-effective solution for small huddle rooms. Attach the camera to the top of the display/monitor or as close to eye level as possible. This will create a much better user experience than taking the virtual call from your laptop or other mobile device camera. Most webcams are a plug and play device making set up simple. Options we like include Jabra PanaCast and Logitech
Soundbars are a great option for larger conference rooms (maximum range around 17-18 feet) or open meeting areas. These compact all-in-one units connect with a single USB cable and work with most video conference platforms including Teams, Zoom, and WebEx. The integrated wide-angle camera can zero in on who is speaking to pick up their audio and picture. Soundbars are a great plug and play option to deliver high quality sound, picture and user experience. Options we like include AVer VB342+ and Crestron UC Smart Soundbar. To create a more robust user experience, consider adding a wireless collaboration device like Barco ClickShare Conference to connect to your virtual call with one click from your own device.
Set up a mobile video conference cart that can be moved between rooms and open areas.
Turn any space into virtual collaboration space with an all-in-one video conferencing display that can attach to a mobile cart. Simply roll the cart between conference rooms, open shared spaces, and huddle rooms, knowing everything you need to conduct a productive and intuitive virtual meeting is at your fingertips. The added flexibility and mobility will give teams the choice and control over where and how they would like to meet. Many devices have the option of an interactive touch display to enable annotation, whiteboarding, and sharing documents. Options we like include DTEN D7 paired with Heckler AV rolling Cart (Best for Zoom) and Microsoft Surface Hub 2S paired with Steelcase Roam Cart (Best for Microsoft Teams).
Assess the overall user experience of the room.
How is the lighting for video calls, does it create shadows on participants? Do you need additional acoustics to absorb noise with the addition of wallcoverings, ceiling treatments or soft flooring? Is the seating quantity and layout adequate to capture those in the room? Not only do the participants meeting on the virtual call want to be heard clearly, those working adjacent in the open plan don’t want to be disturbed by loud conversations.
No matter where someone is taking the virtual call, you want the end user experience to be consistent. Clear microphone sound , quality video, adequate lighting, and good acoustics, should all be considered. Keep in mind, that remote participants in particular want to feel inclusive with those taking the meeting from the office. Creating an environment where they can be seen, heard and actively participate in the meeting is imperative for a positive experience and to help create the best meeting outcome for all involved.
To learn more, or for help creating an engaging functional meeting space for virtual calls, contact NBS today.