Are our meeting rooms ready for a new way of working?

Companies must meet new standards to support safety and productivity as workers return to the office

Ian Barnard
By Ian Barnard on 03 December 2020
Are our meeting rooms ready for a new way of working?

From the outset of Covid-19, there was a rapid adjustment to new methods of working. Video conferencing tools became a professional necessity, rapidly expanding the user base of technology like Microsoft Teams. Now, several months from the start of the nationwide lockdowns, we are slowly returning to work.

The offices we left behind were designed for the old way of working – close-proximity workstations, narrow walkways and meeting spaces designed for face-to-face interaction. Working in the ‘new normal’ brings a host of new demands, including safe, socially distanced workplaces and the need for properly integrated, seamless video conferencing. Research shows that today 90 per cent of meetings have remote attendees and yet only 15 per cent of our meeting rooms are equipped to handle video, even as video conferencing has become the new norm. 

Meeting rooms also now need to cater for social distancing measures that have been put in place to keep people protected. Facilities managers need to set up systems to quickly and easily monitor meeting room occupancy to ensure that meeting spaces are not becoming overcrowded and employees can maintain safe distances.

Air circulation and good ventilation are also potential interventions which can help reduce the spread of Covid-19, making a case for facilities managers to ensure that fresh air is readily available in offices and meeting spaces. In addition, Sharp research has found that improved ventilation can increase productivity by up to 11 per cent, demonstrating the value of improving air quality. 

As staff continue to slowly return to the office, the Windows collaboration display from Sharp will allow them to monitor these environmental factors through its advanced internet of things (IoT) sensors. For example, the sensors monitor carbon dioxide levels in a room, giving facilities managers insight into how much fresh oxygen-rich air is circulating in meeting spaces. In addition, the display can monitor conditions such as light levels and temperature, helping to create the perfect productive working environment and ensure that working conditions are always optimal.

This best-in-class IoT technology is coupled with an integrated high-quality camera with 4K sensor, far-field microphone and speakers to provide the seamless video conferencing experience needed when working with colleagues remotely.

Ultimately, business leaders and facilities managers need to ensure that the workplace is ready for employees to return, meeting the new expected standard for productivity, collaboration and safety. This means equipping meeting places with the right tools to monitor meeting spaces and ultimately empower people to collaborate. 

Ian Barnard is general manager of visual solutions at Sharp Europe

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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