Taking the Conference Room Experience to a New Level
The growing demand for conference space of various sizes and configurations is on the rise in the US. In the past, the size of the conference room depended on traditional meeting needs – either real or perceived. Today meeting space needs have evolved and the user experience tends to rely on the ergonomic design, the digital experience and on the changing workplace with a new generation of workers.
According to the US Bureau of Labor, on the days people worked, 83 percent of employed persons did some or all of their work at their workplace and 22 percent did some or all of their work at home. While there is a significant number of people working as full time employees in the office, there is a growing trend for greater flexibility and agility within the workplace. Increasingly employees are no longer tied to their desks and also they are not going in mass to one conference room.
Not only are the majority of people working in the office at least part of the day, meetings are empowering employees to collaborate at an all-time high. The conference room craze continues and adding more rooms – especially smaller spaces — seems to be a growing trend. So, what does this mean for conference rooms and how they are built, designed and equipped to address the new level of expectations of the user?
The average employee wastes at least 15 minutes of time finding a meeting space, using the space, and getting technology to work within the space. To increase productivity, flexibility and more efficient use of meeting time, here are my top five tips for designing and equipping conference rooms for the best user experience, as well as better utilization of space.
1) A Great Digital Experience.
For a picture-perfect experience, when considering a television most home theater models are sufficient for the workplace. However, the latest 4K display screens offer high definition, non-glare panels and true color from every conceivable viewing angle. If you want a great visual experience, which is key to audience engagement then channel in this 4K display solution.
2) Appropriate Investment in AV Technology.
Having suggested the value of top notch screen technology, the same is true for other and AV technology – so don’t cut corners when deciding on this essential equipment. Do your research, especially since video conferencing allows ‘face-to-face’ collaboration without a physical presence. Video conferencing permits workers to visually connect, allowing businesses to save thousands of dollars on travel costs, while employees save on stress related travel schedules. The connected experience is what your objective needs to be in terms of technology selection, display, other AV elements and room controls to support excellent collaboration, which in the final analysis delivers the productivity gains we are all seeking.
With the above in place, delivering a presentation will result in audience engagement. Here are some simple tips to consider:
– Size: Adapt the size of the screen according to the type of material projected (4:3 for computer data and video or 16:9 for HDTV, for example).
– Shape: It’s possible to coordinate the shape of the screen to become a striking part of the venue’s décor.
– Placement: Is the lowest part of the screen visible from all seats? This can be an important factor – so don’t overlook the visibility of the projection technology.
3) Conference Room/Resource Scheduling.
Due to greater flexibility and a quicker, more reactive demand for conference rooms, the user community needs better visibility of meeting spaces, whether large or small. It’s not sufficient to find the right space – the right equipment needs to be available in the room, as well as the ability to include services like catering and video support. Increasingly, businesses need to connect with colleagues internationally in different time zones through video conferencing. An efficient scheduling platform is the only way to effectively manage room and services as well as video conferencing, potentially in a different time zone. Program the equipment to turn on as soon as the meeting begins – all in one touch. If the meeting time/location changes all attendees need to be alerted and don’t forget the need to include service providers in the notification group. One thing is certain, meeting times, locations, visitors and services change constantly, so an enterprise level scheduling platform is the best way to ensure competent management of complex meetings.
4) Room/Desk Utilization Sensors.
This technology helps solve the problem of locating flexible work spaces especially since today, many meeting spaces need to be located and used on a short-term basis. Sensors can provide real time availability of meeting and flexible workspace. This should be integrated with digital signage for wayfinding – giving employees the best way to find and use the correct space for the task they are empowered to do. Sensors can help with no show management, so space is automatically released back into availability, avoiding valuable rooms standing empty and staff booking space at high costs in external venues. Sensors provide better insight into future space planning needs as real-time usage information can be captured and analyzed.
5) Room Panels.
Companies building conference spaces are increasingly providing the right information on panels outside the room linked to wayfinding technology. This digital equipment allows the user to find the meeting location in a busy facility without wasting time. The signage is a tool to help employees confidently gain access to the space they booked or to find available space. Locating an available room and reserving it directly from the digital panel is also possible. Watch out for the growing use of QR codes and Apps for check in/out in the future.
With meeting rooms in demand, what traditionally may have been a larger conference room, may now be a series of smaller huddle rooms. As a result, the changing workplace focused on greater flexibility and agility, has potentially created a higher demand for the right meeting space – so how a space is created and used is a business-critical productivity question.
Because of flexible working and this new culture – particularly with the Millennial generation’s practice of not holding all meetings in formal rooms – other types of spaces also need to be created around the conference room to provide the user community with opportunities to collaborate.
Today’s knowledgeable worker relies heavily on collaboration and digital tools. Connecting the user with the right space and technology plays a key role in creating a productive meeting through better scheduling, digital signage outside the room, and the ability to provide information through sensors of what’s available now or when the conference room will be empty. There needs to be a strong connection between the facilities and IT staff to design and use technology to make the conference room a more productive experience.
One of the most important elements to reach this new level is a reliable room scheduling software platform – and of course a well-equipped conference room with a meeting service provision for complex managed meetings and events.
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Luis De Souza
Chief Executive Officer
Luis Desouza is CEO of NFS Technology Group. He has a proven track record in providing solutions for major international corporates, law firms, hospitality operators and venues. Luis takes a keen interest in technological trends and how they can be applied to space utilisation and improving occupancy and uses this vision to drive the development of our solutions.