Shaping The Meeting Room Of The Future

Office Of The Future

The ability to bring your own device into the meeting room is swiftly becoming a standard requirement for the work place. In a recent survey conducted by Barco, InAVate and PFM magazine entitled “Meeting room of the future”, 82 per cent of the senior business managers polled indicated they use their own laptop, tablet or mobile phone when attending or chairing a meeting.

Another apparent trend is that an increasing number of employees are working remotely. These factors mean meeting spaces have to become more flexible and support a wider range of technologies for virtual conferencing.

In June this year the “Meeting room of the future” survey asked over 300 senior business managers in EMEA for their views on what their particular requirements are and how they’d like to see meeting rooms develop. This was a very interesting survey for us because our own meeting culture has undergone quite a (r)evolution recently and it’s clear that the needs of other organisations are changing equally rapidly. Companies now have to deal with a fast-changing work environment, and this includes supporting a growing number of employees working remotely or working flexible hours.

Nine out of ten (91 per cent) of the survey’s respondents said that they regularly work remotely, with 27 per cent working remotely on almost a daily basis. It is little wonder then that this trend is making organising meetings a job in itself! Fortunately, companies are now able to access a broader range of technology for flexible working, allowing colleagues to meet regardless of place or time.

BYOD

More than four out of five respondents (82 per cent) use of their own device within the meeting room. Although the bulk of these devices are still laptops, the use of smartphones and tablets is on the rise. The ‘Bring your own device’ (BYOD) trend means that meeting rooms need to support multiple device types and operating systems, unfortunately solving compatibility issues can often be time-consuming and a drain on resources.

It’s no wonder that most of the survey respondents say they are often frustrated by long set-up times and technical issues. Another Barco survey conducted in North America earlier in the year suggests these are problems that span regions.

Most US managers don’t have access to the correct adaptors to hook up their devices in the meeting room. However, despite existing technical issues, 59 per cent of the managers polled expect their meeting rooms to be fully digitally equipped by 2014 and this figure rises to 94 per cent by 2020.

Shifting Content

It’s not just the multiplicity of devices that is making meetings a challenge. The EMEA survey revealed that the types of content being used is also shifting. While meetings are still largely (PowerPoint) presentation-driven, 59 per cent of businesses are already referring to digital photos, video and other digital media within the meeting room.

This is a logical evolution, particularly when working with colleagues remotely, who may need a greater level of interactivity to remain engaged and feel part of the meeting. Also, users increasingly need to access content of different types which is spread across various devices: for example, a voice memo or photo from a mobile, an app on a tablet or video uploaded to the cloud.

The problem here is that it’s not always straightforward to swap between devices to bring the relevant content up on screen. The right connection cable or adapter may not be available in the meeting room, and even if it is, it can be extremely disruptive to have to reconnect everything.

Meeting Room Democracy

The changing needs of the meeting room have led to the development of a new market segment designed to address these challenges and simplify collaborative working. Wireless presentation systems help to improve meeting dynamics and reduce set-up times.

This leads to improved efficiencies and allows people to present and collaborate from a variety of fixed and mobile devices simultaneously, and without having to worry about compatibility issues. Everyone in the meeting room has the opportunity to be on-screen and contribute at any given time, making meetings much more interactive.

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Yoaf Nir

Yoav Nir is Business Development Manager at Barco. Barco, a global technology company, designs and develops visualisation products for a variety of selected professional markets.