As technology enables businesses to be increasingly dynamic in their operations, collaboration has become essential for sharing insights, expanding operations and ensuring that the company as a whole keeps pace with its industry. Collaboration brings together employees as one team - no matter where in the world the individuals are located.
In facilitating this growing demand for collaboration, the meeting room has had to change considerably in both size and function. From boardrooms to huddle rooms, meeting space has evolved to serve both formal presentations and smaller, impromptu group sessions at all levels of a business.
For businesses, providing the tools that enable this new style of collaboration is bringing excellent returns in the form of increased productivity and creativity.
As working styles evolve, so too do the spaces we operate in. Take huddle rooms; not so long ago would we even have know what they are? Now these smaller, informal meeting rooms are found in most big businesses - and with good reason.
The unscheduled meetings that huddle spaces facilitate bring smaller groups together to collaborate and share ideas. They cater for more spontaneity in the workplace, from both a local and international level ensuring everyone can participate through video conferencing and content sharing technology. So they’re certainly flexible and accessible, but they’re also incredibly functional, stocked with smart technology that can be accessed in an instant without taking up valuable time to setup or troubleshoot.
And in providing this kind of space, businesses are tapping into the new ideas. Teams are no longer restricted to formal meetings, planned in advance; instead they can jump in and share thoughts and progress as soon as an idea strikes, capitalising on those ‘lightbulb moments’.
Equipping huddle rooms with technology like a touchscreen display takes this even further, documenting and evolving ideas quickly. Touchscreens like those from iiyama are perfect for enabling team members to share ideas, annotate and work together on a project - and they won’t break the bank.
Touchscreen collaboration has also brought about changes to processes after a meeting is over; there’s no longer any need for someone to be lumbered with sheets of A1 paper from a traditional flipchart, tasked with typing up and emailing round the points of discussion. Now, everyone can access the shared digital work and move forward with the ideas discussed in the huddle.
While teams have embraced the spontaneity of the huddle room, boardrooms have held onto their more structured approach to collaboration. At this level, it’s about business leaders and members of the board coming together for a scheduled meeting, usually working through a pre-discussed meeting plan around the table.
It’s clear too that collaboration here often has a more direct connection to finance. Working together or taking a disjointed stubborn and individual approach could mean the difference between winning over an investor and putting them off with a team’s bad attitude.
But not everyone will be physically sat at the table; senior decision makers are often scattered between offices, perhaps not even in the same country. Boardrooms need to be geared up for this remote connectivity with the right video conferencing solutions in place and a secure means of sharing data. Don’t forget it needs to be easy and reliable too - time is a precious resource for these senior members of the team, and, with seniority comes the highest expectations of professionalism. Any communication with external parties also needs to be flawless and proficient to enable the team to impress with their expertise and achievements.
A single webcam built into a laptop won’t cut it when trying to facilitate collaboration between a boardroom and a remote colleague, client or investor. In fact it risks destroying the potential business benefits of collaborating in the first place if everyone is forced to struggle to hear poor quality sound and crowd around a grainy image. The board are not going to be particularly focused on what’s being discussed and you might just get someone’s back up if they have to strain to hear what’s going on or their line keeps getting cut off.
The answer here is a professional video conferencing solution like the Logitech Group Kit. Tools like this mean executives can share data and content, display a clear HD video stream of the meeting room to bring remote members into the conversation and, of course, everyone can hear what’s being discussed. Using a bundle like this has the added benefit that all components will be pre-configured, removing the hassle of figuring out which separate solutions will work together for a video call.
For real collaboration between colleagues, third party suppliers, clients or investors and advisors, meeting rooms have to be equipped with solutions that enable everyone in the room and dialling in to have their say - not just the man sat closest to a single HDMI cable. Remember this when you’re fitting out the meeting room, you have the power!
Content sharing solutions will help here; if multiple team members can connect their devices quickly and even simultaneously to the meeting room display, it becomes a lot harder for a single operator to dominate the meeting. The best meeting rooms will allow teams to connect from almost any device to the room's shared audio visual equipment, with options for wired and wireless connectivity, for Apple Macs and Windows laptops, and even smartphones.
The Barco ClickShare family, for example, even offers a free app that can connect iOS or Android mobile devices to the main screen.
So why is meeting room tech so important for aiding collaboration, and what makes team work so valuable in business?
The composition of a workforce has changed unequivocally. Now, businesses are adapting to rapidly changing markets by doing away with a hierarchical structure in favour of a network of flexible teams, as was shown in 2016 research from Deloitte. The firm’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report found that 80 per cent of businesses stated they are either restructuring or have restructured to create a more team-orientated organisation.
This is because collaboration is key for knowledge sharing and exchanging expertise. Bringing a fresh perspective to a group is also instrumental in problem solving and introducing new techniques or discussing industry shifts to allow the company to keep pace with, or, ideally, outsmart the competition. Therefore, diversifying your meetings and communicating with colleagues, both in the office and in satellite locations, is essential for progress and gaining a broader perspective of the market.
Teamwork is the way forward for more and more global businesses as a means of reacting and manoeuvring quickly in response to market developments; it’s about agility, even in the largest of organisations. Those that don’t adapt and collaborate will simply find themselves left behind.