It’s second nature to jump on video meetings as part of our new work-from-home lifestyle. What used to consist of teams walking into a huddle or conference room in the office has now transformed into clicking buttons on a screen to communicate and collaborate. We simply turn on the screen and join the conversation.
Video meetings won’t last forever, though.
After the pandemic is over, companies are more likely to offer employees more flexible work arrangements. Some will work exclusively in the office, some will telecommute full-time, and others will do a mix. That means businesses will have a combination of in-office and remote workers.
Companies must prepare for that scenario and transform their traditional meeting rooms to accommodate distributed and fragmented teams.
Essential tools for tomorrow’s meeting rooms
As businesses plan when and how employees will return to work, they need to equip their meeting rooms with these seven technologies to create the ultimate video conferencing experience.
1. Large TV screens
Laptop computers could work in a pinch, but no one except the people closest to the laptop would be able to see remote workers on screen. Organizations need to invest in large, high-definition displays for the best meeting experience. Employees have HD televisions at home and expect the same high-quality video experience in the workplace.
Large displays are versatile and can be used for both video conferences and presentations. Today, 4K and UHD (Ultra High Definition) displays offer the highest resolutions available, providing sharper, brighter video and more vivid colors. That will allow remote workers to look flawless on screen, and if employees share their computer screens, designs and images will look more precise.
2. Video cameras
Video cameras today are chock full of state-of-the-art features, including 4K video and pan-tilt-zoom capability that autofocuses and automatically frames and zooms in on the active speakers in the room.
Instead of a stationary camera that gives a static view, the new cameras today allow remote workers to better see who is talking and feel more connected to the meeting. In fact, some cameras today also have technology that reduces glare from the sun, eliminates shadows and balances lighting in the meeting room.
3. Speakers and microphones
Bad audio can disrupt a meeting and frustrate employees on both sides of a video conference. Fortunately, businesses can choose among a variety of speakers and microphones to ensure high-quality sound for both in-office and remote employees.
New audio systems today provide better sound by focusing on active speakers and reducing background noise. Some video conferencing solutions are all-in-one units, featuring video cameras that have built-in speakers and microphones in the shape of a soundbar.
For larger conference rooms, companies can install additional speakers and microphones to ensure audio is distributed evenly and people’s voices are picked up across a room.
Businesses can place multiple speakers and microphones across a conference table, so every attendee can speak and be heard. They can deploy wireless microphones, giving speakers the ability to roam around the room. They can also install a ceiling microphone that can pick up people’s voices across an entire room.
4. Conference call system
Because tomorrow’s meetings will include in-office and remote workers, businesses need to deploy conference call software that connects the dispersed workforce together. The cloud-based conference call software unites all the components of a video conferencing system together – video camera, microphones, and speakers in a meeting room with remote workers’ computers or smartphones.
Through a cloud-based conferencing solution like RingCentral Rooms, people in a physical meeting room can launch a video conference with a single click of a tablet. On the other end, remote workers can join the meeting with a single click of a meeting link in their calendaring software.
5. Power cables
Employees today run from meeting to meeting, and they often bring their laptop computers and smartphones into conference rooms with them. Don’t let mobile devices run out of battery life. Companies need to install power outlets and USB ports on meeting tables, so workers can plug in and power their devices.
Sometimes you need an old-fashioned whiteboard in a meeting room to jot down ideas or draw diagrams during a meeting. But you can also deploy interactive or digital whiteboards, which lets employees write or draw on the board with a stylus or even their fingers.
These devices can support video conferencing and allow users to save screens and share them with meeting participants, so they don’t have to manually take notes themselves. Some digital whiteboards allow users to connect their laptops or smartphones, so they can share content from their devices to the whiteboard.
7. Video cables
Video cables are useful for huddle rooms that don’t need comprehensive video conferencing systems. For these small rooms for two to four meeting participants, businesses can install HDMI or DisplayPort cables, so staffers can quickly connect their laptops with a TV display to share their screens.
The future meeting room brings all workers together
Companies left their offices—and physical meeting spaces—during the COVID-19 outbreak, but for many, that was just a temporary decision. When they return, many will set up a hybrid work environment with a mix of in-office and remote employees. That will require leaders to redesign their physical meeting rooms to include video conferencing equipment to support a distributed workforce and allow staff to collaborate, regardless of their location.
Modern video conferencing equipment is plug and play and much more affordable and user friendly than the early telepresence equipment from the past.
For example, RingCentral Rooms is a cloud-based video conferencing solution that provides businesses with a high-end video conferencing experience for physical meeting rooms of any size. It seamlessly integrates with off-the-shelf video conferencing gear and is extremely easy to deploy and use.
With RingCentral Rooms, employees in a meeting room can launch a video conference with one touch of an iPad, while remote employees can easily join a scheduled video conference with one click of a meeting link in their Google or Microsoft Office calendar.
The technology empowers office employees and remote workers to join together and effectively communicate and collaborate in the meetings of tomorrow.
Originally published Sep 15, 2020, updated Sep 23, 2020