Interactivity in meetings is essential for retaining the attention of your colleagues and maximising productivity and while teams and workplace atmosphere have their roles to play, technology is what will make the real difference in a truly interactive meeting room.
Large displays that people can connect to from their own personal devices, high quality video conference and communications software, touchscreens that enable multiple team members to interact with the display at once … devices like these are key to improving colleague engagement and collaboration in the meeting space. In this article, we’ll expand on this and look in more detail at why it’s so important to provide the tools that encourage interactivity in your workforce and highlight the agile technology solutions on the market today.
Employees are spending more time in meetings, but are these meetings really serving their purpose and adding value to businesses as a whole? In 2016 research by Wisembly revealed that 36 per cent of meetings are considered unproductive and 41 per cent of meetings are dominated by just two people. The same survey also stated that 92 per cent of workers felt that if they could share ideas more freely, they would feel far more involved and happier at work.
If your meeting room relies on printed handouts, a rigid format and one person manning a central flipchart, you risk hampering the efficiency of your employees and reducing the potential for collaboration. By failing to incorporate interactive technology solutions, it becomes harder for individuals to input their ideas and share content freely with the group. On the flipside, companies that offer intelligent content sharing solutions and interactive technology open up their teams to take advantage of the true potential of collaboration, driving up productivity, employee satisfaction and ultimately, profit.
If interactivity is your goal (and we reckon it should be), then touchscreens have to be high on your list of technology to consider for your company’s meeting room. These smart devices have proven themselves to be a valuable tool everywhere from the classroom to the boardroom. By replacing a traditional wipe-clean whiteboard and dry-wipe pens with a touchscreen display, teams can pull in saved documents, annotate shared projects and switch between online sources, video and more at the swipe of the screen, turning the weekly meeting into a dynamic and interactive session, full of multimedia content and creating an atmosphere and approach that helps spark creativity.
Touchscreens themselves vary in their scope and specifications and are available to suit a range of meeting spaces, from informal huddle rooms to the more structured layout of a boardroom. Many touchscreens will sync with a range of laptops, computers, tablets and even smartphones to allow team members to share their own work and content. Then, with the information uploaded and displayed, teams can use a stylus or simply touch the screen directly to annotate and evolve a project.
However, their versatility does vary so if you are looking into touchscreen displays, consider your requirements carefully. Will the screen need to connect multiple devices simultaneously? If so will all the devices be the same or will teams be working from a mixture of Android, Apple and Windows devices? Some touchscreens will enable laptops or desktops to connect via HDMI or USB, whereas others may require a dongle to connect wirelessly. Take the time to evaluate whether you’ll require a wireless connection and which devices your team will be working with before making a purchase.
Take touchscreens like the Samsung DM82E-BR for example. Displays like this allow up to five tablets to connect wirelessly and support a range of operating systems including iOS, Android and Windows. You can also allow desktop sharing for up to four Windows devices.
Although your own team’s working style is the best place to start when considering which touchscreen to buy, don’t forget that ultimately, the more interactive the screen, the more potential it has to drive up your levels of productivity and creativity. Investing in the most flexible solution in terms of device compatibility will also mean you and your team are in the best position when it comes to working with external contributors should you outsource certain work or host regular meetings with third parties and clients who might be working from different devices.
Interactive touchscreens come in a range of sizes to suit a variety of meeting room styles. For a larger meeting room or boardroom, displays like the Samsung DM82E-BR are a good option. With an impressive 75-inch diagonal screen size, this would be well suited to a larger boardroom, or for an even bigger impact, a screen size of around 84 inches, like the BenQ RP840G would be great option.
Touchscreens of this size are a major investment, but they’re an excellent way to engage and collaborate, especially when working through one document or project as a group. Projects and group tasks like mind-mapping are also very well catered to with devices like this, thanks to the simple and effective inbuilt interactive software that enables team members to easily highlight and annotate as they go.
By design, the huddle room is the optimum environment for collaboration and interactive working. Unlike a traditional boardroom layout, which lends itself more to presentations and formal discussion, a huddle room is designed for a small group to get their heads together for spontaneous brainstorming, problem solving and creativity.
When speccing out a huddle room - whether from scratch or as part of a refurb - take the time to discuss with your team how they’re going to use the space and indeed, how you want them to use the space. Technology can work wonders for improving the collaboration and productivity of your teams through interactive working practices, but at the end of the day, it’s an investment on the part of the company and you need to be sure that you’re allocating your budget to the right investment for your team.
Consider the size of your space and the number of people that will be working on a project at once. If the nature of your huddle room is for several people to use the screen simultaneously, you should be exploring displays that enable multiple touchpoints so that more than one person can operate the screen at the same time. Creative and design teams are often keen to have this level of functionality to allow collaborators to input simultaneously while the ideas are fresh in their mind, but you might find that teams across the company benefit from being able to annotate their work and documents at the same time.
If this level of functionality is important to you then have a look at products like the SMART Board 4055 for example, which offers eight touchpoints; or, the InFocus J Touch DigiEasel INF4030 which allows up to ten contributors at any one time. These choices can seem like overkill for small teams, but think about the way in which your teams work and the way in which they might work in future; will consultants and outside contributors be partaking in meetings? How about clients? Ultimately, having more touchpoints on the screen opens up the potential for future collaboration, pulling new contributors into the meeting for a fresh perspective on the task.
Finally, before you get carried away with the potential of interactive technology in your meeting rooms, remember that you have to be able to connect any new devices to your existing hardware. Touchscreens come in many shapes and forms but not all of them will allow simple and direct connections between every device and the display.
You can adapt most touchscreens to allow them to communicate with pretty much any device through the use of adaptors and connectors. Read more about how these work in our article here. But some touchscreens are designed to work with certain operating systems so if you buy the right device for your team’s requirements, you will be making things a lot easier for yourself, your teams and your IT support. Look at the Clevertouch range for example, these offer excellent functionality, but they only have easy to access front-facing ports for Windows and Android devices - a bit of a problem if your team are die-hard Apple fans.
If you’re concerned that a touchscreen won’t offer all the functionality you want, or perhaps you want to work with what you’ve got and avoid buying an entirely new display screen, then content sharing and meeting presentation devices might hold the key to improving interactivity for your team.
Tools like Montage by DisplayNote for instance is a content sharing solution that can connect the central display screen of a meeting room with several devices in real-time – in this case, up to 12. Montage works with iOS, Android and Windows, so is a smart choice for an office that has embraced a BYOD (bring your own device) culture. However, while this kind of technology is a good option for those who don’t want to go down the touchscreen route, it offers a rather different approach that doesn’t quite reach the same levels of interactivity that you’ll get from a touchscreen, such as full support for annotation and multiple touchpoints, so keep this in mind when exploring your options.
That said, content sharing solutions are still a fantastic step in the right direction when it comes to embracing interactive meeting rooms. With multiple devices connected to the main display, team members can jump in to share and discuss their files, links and online content with the rest of the group simultaneously; there’s no doubt that it helps create a more dynamic atmosphere in the meeting, perfect for problem solving and creativity in business.
There is no one route to implementing interactivity in the meeting room but more and more businesses are considering their options and choosing a solution that’s right for their requirements. In return, they’re not only seeing an increase in engagement within their teams, but also a boost to morale thanks to the more level platform from which everyone can share their input.
By swapping the flipchart for a vibrant new touchscreen, or syncing a static display with content sharing solutions, your meetings can extend beyond a mind-map scribbled onto A1 and instead bring in multimedia content, thoughts, ideas and plans from the whole team.
Trust us, that mid-morning meeting or group brainstorming session will never be the same after you inject an interactive element into the proceedings.