Blog / Focus: Facility Design

It’s time to update your collaboration spaces

By Kevin Wilhelm / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
February 26, 2020

It’s an exciting time for business A/V technology: board rooms are being swapped for collaboration spaces, workers are making the world their office, and job candidates are in the unique position of evaluating not just the salary of a job but the technology of the space.

These same candidates insist upon the ability to bring their preferred device of choice and have it work seamlessly at their place of employment. Systems need to be flexible, scalable, and, most importantly, easy enough for all employees to use.

Not surprisingly, companies that offer flexible geographic, collaborative and high-tech work environments have reported their workers are happier and more likely to stay with that place of employment. Collaboration spaces need to not just allow those within a building to work together but unite employees across multiple offices and work environments – including countries.

Collaborative workspaces should reflect that with high-resolution cameras/displays and audio. Advances in microphone technology have reduced the echo/feedback loop or need to speak at an uncomfortably high volume to be heard by all participants. These microphones are also more flexible allowing a single collaboration space to have multiple layouts, going from a round table discussion to more of a lecture space, without the need to do any rewiring. Programming and integration through a control system can now allow for adaption at the press of a button. 

This investment in technology isn’t just for current employees but prospective ones as well. In fact, professionals are demanding it with 70% of workers between the ages of 16-44 saying they want to be more mobile and 37% indicating they would be willing to accept a job offer for a lower salary if they felt the technology at the company was superior.

Technology goes beyond the equipment in a collaboration space to include how information is shared when brought into the space. Solutions should be flexible to work whether an employee brings an iPhone, Android device, tablet, or traditional Windows PC with them. If a presenter ends up needing to make three calls to find the right adapter to connect their device to a display, some of the benefits of that collaboration space have already been lost.

By using a flexible combination of hard-wired, wireless and cloud solutions, collaboration spaces can be adapted no matter the device is Relying on a single option, especially a single HDMI input, is going to lead to lost time and frustration. Having options like Crestron Flex with Microsoft teams and Shure IntelliMix Ceiling Array Microphones allow for spaces to be flexible and provide a high-quality experience

Workplaces are changing and collaboration spaces are a great way to improve employee satisfaction and productivity. Having a good understanding of who will be using the space and what their communication goals are is key when creating a technology solution.

Recognizing that multiple medias: visual, audio, interactive displays, can all be leveraged and used selectively to meet a communication goal can make the task of updating these systems seem daunting. 

It is important to work with an experienced A/V integrator who will work to understand the needs of the space and leverage the right technology solutions to match budget and timeframe. 

Kevin Wilhelm is a Solutions Architect at SIGNET Electronic Systems and can be reached at kevin.wilhelm@signetgroup.net.

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