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Must-have conferencing technology for the hybrid work model

Must-have conferencing technology for the hybrid work model

“Can you see me?”  “Can you hear me?”  “Is there a construction crew drilling nearby?”  “You’re frozen.”  “You should call IT.”  “I’m sorry, but we’ve run out of time.”

If these phrases sound familiar, there’s a good chance your company has joined the ranks of the new hybrid workplace reality.  

 What was once considered a temporary response to the ongoing pandemic, the hybrid work model looks like it’s here to stay. For most, this work-from-home and sometimes work-at-the-office lifestyle satisfies a yearning for balance and freedom. The question is, how can IT and facility managers ensure that remote workers and office workers feel like they’re all working under the same roof? 

If you are an IT professional, IT Manager, CEO, Procurement Manager, or Estate Manager, you don’t want to miss this boat. 

The highs of the hybrid work model 

73% of employees want remote work options to remain in place1

In our whitepaper entitled ‘Can you hear me now? Key conferencing technology to help IT and facility managers embrace hybrid work mode’, we outline the needs and benefits of a carefully conceived hybrid work plan. 

The magic begins when you provide all users with the same and most up-to-date conferencing technology. This contributes to increased employee engagement, overall productivity and consistent and predictable work experience. As a bonus, an investment in AV technology can ensure its efficiency and long-term lifespan. And last but not least, your IT department can shift their time and effort away from endless AV troubleshooting. 

If you lose your video, you can still carry a conversation. If you lose your audio, the meeting is over.

Idan Razon, Director, Collaboration Solutions and IT, Solotech
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Sound makes the world go-‘round

When it comes to videoconferencing technology, the Solotech advantage is certainly in the sound. Founded on audio expertise in live events, companies around the world now count on Solotech for impeccable sound, video and hardware/software technology solutions.

Sound is pivotal to the videoconferencing experience in the hybrid work model. The right audio processor and omnidirectional microphone can change everything. But this is only the beginning. 

Did you know that the right acoustic treatment can reduce distractions by 51%2?

A tech team that understands your reality

66% of business leaders are considering redesigning office space for hybrid work3.

Our whitepaper will walk you through the pain points of the hybrid workplace model and share solutions aimed at company leaders who want to future-proof their audiovisual systems. Discover the benefits of best-in-class videoconferencing technology for both your employees and your bottom line.

Find out how to optimize video feeds, choose the right software, and the importance of hardware and after-sales support. The insights and tips you’ll read are steps towards making sure you never hear the phrase again Can you hear me now?”

1-3 Eldeman Data x Intelligence Survey sponsored by Microsoft, (2021)www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/work-trend-index/hybrid-work 
2 David M. Sykes PhD., (2009) Productivity: How Acoustics Affect Workers’ Performance In Offices & Open Areas 

Download our white paper here!

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HOW TO KEEP PEOPLE CONNECTED BY IMPROVING HYBRID WORKING

We are all aware of the challenges that arise when colleagues are not in the same room together. With the hybrid workplace model in place for the foreseeable future, AV and IT departments want to provide their colleagues with a high-quality virtual meeting experience that lets them hear and see each other and share content as if they were in the same room.

Off-the-shelf consumer solutions will cover the basics, but staff pitching a client for new business or collaborating with remote colleagues deserve a better experience. There is an opportunity to convince teams to come back to the office to embrace the hybrid work environment. 

Make sure to provide high-quality unified communications and video collaboration systems that can be managed and monitored remotely and offer security features that safeguard your firm’s confidential information.

7 STEPS TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY ON VIDEO CONFERENCE CALLS

A range of uncontrollable external forces, from inadequate technology and inconsiderate room design, often make meetings frustrating and alienating, especially for those working from a home office. And while no one can stop the neighbour’s dog from barking, considering these points will help make hybrid remote work better for everyone. Follow these 7 steps to help your colleagues stay productive on video conference calls :

THE ROOM

1

Consider the room size and how many meeting participants will fit comfortably in the space. A meeting room near a noisy section of the office is not the best location. Choose spaces that do not have open ceilings or are located away from heavily trafficked areas.

2

ROOM ACOUSTICS

A good-sounding room is the first piece of the puzzle. Open ceilings, exposed brick and glass walls make the room aesthetically pleasing, but these hard surfaces create reverberant spaces that degrade the quality of the interactions between colleagues meeting virtually.

 There are subtle alterations to the room that can be made to reduce reverb and enhance the intelligibility of the talker’s voice being sent to the far end. Proper guidance on acoustic products will help you with these problems while keeping the aesthetic of the room.

3

CONSIDER REMOTE PARTICIPANTS

Will several people in the room need to be heard by people joining remotely? If so, consider supplying microphones for each participant or technology that will adequality pick up all the in-room participants so that remote workers will feel engaged in the discussion. 

In addition, cameras that use artificial intelligence can improve the viewing experience for remote callers.

IN-ROOM PARTICIPANTS

4

The meeting participants will all need a good line of sight to the screen, especially if documents are being shared. Proper room configuration and choosing a screen that is large enough to suit the space with resolution will enable meeting participants to see and listen to each other and collaborate on shared documents. 

Speaker selection and placement also need to be considered to ensure everyone in the room can hear the remote callers properly. You can achieve less table clutter by installing ceiling-mounted microphones.

STAY FLEXIBLE

5

Once it is determined what you want to do with the room, AV technologies that best serve the application can be chosen. Flexibility and leaving options for future upgrades are key to keeping ahead of the curve.

REMOTE MONITORING

6

Once the technology is installed, software like Service+ helps you be proactive and fix a problem before the CEO’s important presentation is delayed by technical difficulties.

SOLUTIONS THAT FIT THE BUDGET

7

From the executive board room to huddle spaces, the cost of an installation for each room is determined by the potential use case of that space. There are technologies available that can fit conservative budgets.

Solotech offers room design and acoustic consultation, installation, and support services for the hybrid work environment on a global scale.

We are also certified by Zoom and Cisco and a Microsoft Partner.

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Key elements to create productive collaboration spaces

Any potential clients looking to equip a space with an AV installation are usually asked the same question: how does the room sound right now?

Key elements to create productive collaboration spaces

Key elements to create productive collaboration spaces

It seems like such a simple, straightforward question, but actual room acoustics historically are still overlooked. And in terms of providing an AV solution, technology can only add so much to a space; if room acoustics are poor to begin with, they will continue to be a problem throughout the project.

Thankfully, office designers have realized the need for collaborative and meeting spaces that work on a functional and aesthetic level with specialist sound technicians brought in at the planning stages to ensure the best possible environment ahead of the application of any AV system. It’s a key part of the process, and one that we recognize at Solotech – we employ our own acoustic engineer to run reports and identify the best possible acoustic solutions ahead of any integration.

Once we’re pleased with a suitable space/environment, discussion is given to the needs and requirements of the system, working within any given budget. There are several ways in which this can be achieved, with the experience, knowledge and recommendations of the integrator playing a big part of the process.

Projects are normally communicated between us, the integrator, and the AV and/or IT department, which usually has a good idea of what they want in terms of room systems, working with existing codecs and VC.

There will always be some challenges with any given project; we can reference case studies from other projects to help develop an idea further. In fact, quite often a client has expressed gratitude that we understand the challenges they face and offer a solution to improve the final system.

Office spaces redesigned

Post-pandemic office space has changed. Working to the new hybrid model, many boardrooms and meeting rooms are being redesigned to be multifunctional, divisible environments that offer flexibility in terms of collaboration (whether remotely or in the room) and other uses, such as hosting conferences and live events.

Screens are leveraged more than ever, and not just for meetings. They’re used for sharing content and are an important part of corporate sustainability policies, keeping paper usage to a minimum.

Rooms are now equipped with many items and devices used to facilitate meetings. From an IT point of view, running AV devices across networks can bring its own challenges, not least concerns regarding secure connections. As AV specialists, we can use our expertise from the service side of the business along with knowledge of the latest products from market- leading AV brands to create systems that run seamlessly across all networks, efficiently and securely.

Once the installation is completed, it’s time to look at how the system will be monitored. It’s not necessary to employ a trained AV technician to check for issues 24 hours a day; in many cases the IT Department Head will manage the system. Monitoring platforms such as Solotech’s Service+ offer 24 hour, seven days a week, real-time monitoring of each system device, providing remote diagnostics as and when required. Any issues with devices on the system will automatically trigger an email to the Service department, which in turn will contact a project development manager to speak with the client and rectify the situation.

Having a proactive approach to service means that any issues with the system can be immediately identified and resolved or replaced ahead of any crucial meetings or events. This keeps disruption to a minimum and helps the client and integrator stay proactive to maintain systems up and running without interruptions.

Ben Tredwell, Project Development Manager, Corporate AV, is an AV integration specialist based out of Solotech UK’s London, Covent Garden office, with extensive experience in enterprise scale projects.

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