Millions of meetings take place every year. They bring together people from industries and countries across the world, all with one reason: progress. Working together gets things done, keeps people on track and moves entire teams towards business goals and objectives. So why do 70 per cent of employees (Barco research, 2014) feel that meetings aren’t productive?
All too often it’s technology that gets the blame. And while managers and business leaders do have their share of responsibility, even the best people won’t get the most out of a meeting room without the right tech.
The problem is, it’s the same technology issues that crop up time and time again and they needn’t be the barriers they have become. We’ve explored some of the most common problems, along with some straightforward solutions.
Technology has facilitated collaboration on a scale that we couldn’t even imagine just a few years ago. Theoretically, information should be more accessible than ever and connecting people from any corner of the world should be a breeze. But one of the most common frustrations about meeting room technology is still the simple fact that people can’t connect to the network or the shared workspace.
At the very least meeting rooms need to provide access points to the network for everyone who is physically present or, even better, a readily available wireless network that everyone can join as soon as they get into the room.
But employees and business leaders are demanding more than just basic connectivity. The most productive meetings rooms enable workspace sharing between multiple devices and screens. This isn’t easy when meetings regularly include people from within an organisation and contributors from outside, making the phenomenon of BYOD (bring your own device) even more of a challenge for technical teams who have no way of knowing if they need to facilitate collaboration between Windows devices or Macs, and increasingly, Android and iOS smartphones.
The pressure is really on as the team needs to find a solution that not only fits the bill for multiple devices, but they also need to ensure that it’s easy for staff to use. Ease of use is the number one employee concern about meeting room technology, cited by 77 per cent of those surveyed by Barco in 2014. So unless you want to spend more time and resources on staff training, the right solution needs to be one that’s simple to use if you’re to get everyone contributing in a meeting.
The Barco ClickShare is an excellent answer to the problem of multi-user connectivity. The device works across all popular operating systems and functions with everything from laptops to smartphones. So whoever is in your meeting can share their screen with a single click. No time wasted with cables or setup.
A meeting room has a purpose: to provide a collaborative workspace. In larger organisations, this purpose is even more specific, with a specific room available for a specific number of people, whether it’s a huddle space for small teams to work in or a boardroom for larger meetings to take place. Whatever the size of the room, its functionality is determined by how many people it can cater to.
So when you’re setting up the main display screen for the meeting room, the person in the seat furthest from the screen has to be able to see the content just as well as the person closest to it, for the room to be fit for purpose.
As a general rule, if the room is being used to display and discuss data and spreadsheets, then the screen height should be at least a quarter of the distance from the screen to the furthest seat in the room. Beyond that, it’s the room itself and the wall width and height that will determine the size of screen you can work with.
Finally, don’t forget to factor in the furniture and in particular the main table when you choose where to locate the screen. It’s a common frustration among employees that their view is blocked by the table or the heads of people closer to the screen, so think about the practicalities of location once you’ve got the technical angle sorted.
Just as important when it comes to visuals is the screen resolution. Your requirements here come down to what the screen is going to be used for; will your teams be looking at data, spreadsheets and complex or detailed models? Or are they mostly working with bold presentations, PowerPoint presentations or video calls?
If it’s data you’re looking at then the devil is in the detail and you’ll need a higher screen resolution to ensure everything is as crisp and clear as it can be.
So if it’s data you’re looking at then you need to be purchasing a Full HD display with resolution at 1920x1080, or even a wide aspect resolution (2560x1080). If you want to take things a step further, the latest 4k displays will provide the ultimate in detail and contrast when viewing data and designs.
If you’re still uncertain about whether or not to invest in a high resolution display remember that research has shown that people work more efficiently from high resolution displays.
As remote working becomes increasingly popular with top employees, more and more companies are seeking to accommodate the trend. But with flexible working comes increased pressure on a company’s technology and the meeting room is no excuse.
However, with people expecting flexibility, AV managers and IT teams need to enable screen sharing for people on the premises and remotely. This includes implementing the right presentation and collaboration software and hardware and ensuring that anyone dialing in remotely can access the network seamlessly and see the meeting their part of - this involves some basic considerations like ensuring there is sufficient lighting for video calls, as well as more complicated considerations on how to connect.
But business leaders are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to collaboration in meetings. In fact, 64 per cent of business leaders (Barco, 2014) reckon meetings would be more efficient if they could view info from more than one person on screen.
Presentation and collaboration devices like Montage by DisplayNote offer a number of surprisingly simple ways to connect multiple users to the main meeting room display. The Montage, for example, allows up to 12 connected devices to be shown on the main screen even if some of them are accessing remotely. The device supports OS, iOS, Windows and Android devices and boasts enterprise level security and encryption to keep company data secure.
Finally, how many times have you heard a colleague complain “I wish our meetings were more productive” or “we have endless meetings but never seem to move forwards”? Or perhaps it’s you who’s doing the complaining!
Taking minutes and ensuring that organisation both pre and post meetings is on point will only get you so far when 20 per cent of meetings overrun due to the simple matter of technical problems (Barco, 2014). Until IT teams provide accessible and reliable solutions to enable collaboration, managers and business leaders will continue to see technology as a barrier to productivity rather than the incredible boost to productivity that it can be.
CEOs and business leaders are focused on improving collaboration between teams, alignment of business goals and driving the company towards a more productive and profitable future. While they may never consider business room technology themselves, productive meetings will be at the heart of delivering on these goals and they depend on getting the tech right.