Three Goals for Workplace Innovation

Posted by / June 24, 2016


Why Bother Innovating?

Innovation matters more than ever in today’s global economy. It’s important for businesses who rely on communications technology to find new and better solutions that foster greater collaboration. And now is always the best time to do it.

Who doesn’t want to increase productivity, deepen job satisfaction, and make themselves stronger? Innovation is fueled by that drive towards greater excellence. Those that fail to innovate will watch from their spot in the status quo as competitors streamline, evolve, and pass them by.

The good and bad news is that every industry can supercharge their workflow with innovative communications technology. It’s good news for those who innovate, but bad news for those that fail to stay ahead of the curve. In the long run, they’ll lose out to those that forge ahead.

Collaboration, Communication, and Flexibility

Miscommunication, lack of collaboration, and rigidity—these are the agents of the status quo. They deal out costly errors, crippling stagnation, and missed opportunities. The solution? A paradigm shift toward excellence—powered by the right tools.

Every industry can use communication technologies to drive workplace innovation. With easier collaboration, enhanced communication, and increased flexibility, teams excel. In this post, we’ll look at each of these goals and the tools that will help you accomplish them. If you want to create an innovative environment that drives happiness, productivity, and excellence, read on!

Goal Number 1: Make collaboration easy.

Raise your hand if you’ve been in a meeting that seemed to take forever to get started. Okay, obviously I can’t see if you put your hands up , but I bet it’s true for a lot of you. Most of you, if not all of you, know exactly what I’m talking about.

There’s getting everyone to the right room on time—which is hard enough. Then there’s getting the presentation loaded up. But wait, where’s that cable we used at the last meeting to connect the PC? Okay, we found the cable… but no one’s booted up the projector yet. Now the projector’s working, but the other end of the video conference can’t see the screen. Janet (from sales) has some important data to share too, but there’s only one cable so she has to awkwardly make the switch from Dave’s computer mid-presentation. Then there’s a sound issue for the video conferencing, and then the realization that two key participants are missing—which kind of defeats the purpose of the whole meeting.

Sure, that might not all happen at once (usually), but you get the picture. When technology doesn’t work for you, it really doesn’t work for you.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! Today, there are powerful collaboration solutions that take all that headache away for a fraction of the cost of all that time, energy, and resources spent duking it out with an outdated, ineffective system. Let’s look at some solutions that make collaboration easier.

Huddle Spaces

Smaller huddle spaces are often superior to large conference rooms for impromptu collaboration. Because an array of huddle spaces allows for more intimate and flexible meetings than a couple larger conference spaces, they are ideal for team break-out sessions. Whether teams need to break out to brainstorm new ideas, work closely over projects, or video conference with remote attendees, huddle spaces are the perfect place to do so.

The ideal huddle space is equipped with display technology, a central workstation, and a small video conferencing system for maximum flexibility and productivity. Additionally, huddle spaces are usually cheaper to furnish and equip than larger conference rooms, making them ideal for companies that want to manage the cost of increased collaboration.

Open Offices

Research is mixed as to the effectiveness of open offices. If given the choice between a private office and an open office, people generally choose the former. But compared to the cubicles that dominate most corporate office spaces, people tend to prefer an open design. When done well, an open office plan can increase collaboration and employee happiness.

In order to keep distractions low in an open environment, it’s usually a good idea to invest in sound management solutions like acoustic treatments and sound masking. Additionally, the furniture selection and arrangement have a greater potential impact on job satisfaction and productivity in an open-plan office than in more closed environments.

Interactive Touch

Large interactive touch panels are a great way to drive collaboration. They allow for teams to easily share, visualize, and annotate data in real time with easy-to-use touch controls. It’s important to work with an AV integrator who has knowledge of the best models on the market to decide which touch panel is right for your collaboration goals.

Before you throw money at outdated smart board technology, you should know that there are more user-friendly, cost-effective, and powerful tools out there to choose from. A couple of our favorites are the TRUTOUCH from Newline and the T1V, a promising newcomer we saw at Infocomm 2016.

Control and Visualization Rooms

Control rooms (sometimes dubbed “war rooms”) and data visualization rooms depend on high-quality display technology with powerful and easy-to-use controls. Whether you need a visualization room to view mission-critical data in high definition or a control room to manage security operations, you want a technological workhorse.

There’s nothing worse than a system failing when you need it most. You will probably spend a little more on visualization and control AV than you would for your average conference room or huddle space, but it’s well worth the cost. A reliable AV system is essential when that technology is mission-critical.

Room Automation

Thanks to the internet of things, you can use room automation to increase comfort, run meetings more smoothly, and drive energy costs down. Today, a single control unit can manage lighting, blinds, and HVAC through real-time analytics. That means no more wasted energy in lighting, heating, or AC for rooms that aren’t in use—and increased comfort in rooms that are. Room automation can also be used to schedule and regulate room access for meetings. You can even customize the automated actions based on the meeting itself.

Scheduling a video conference in the huddle room? What if you could automatically regulate participant access and invites, adjust the lighting levels of the room, and boot up the entire conferencing system—all before you even walk through the door. But that’s just it—with technology today, you can do all of that, even automating the call connection, without having to lift a finger. Collaboration doesn’t get more user-friendly than that!

Goal Number 2: Enhance your communication.

It’s easy to forget that effective communication relies on sight as much as sound. If I ask you to think of the word “communication”, you probably imagine a verbal conversation—but only later consider the facial expressions, gestures, and body language that give so much meaning to a message. In truth, we rely more heavily on visual communication than any other form. For that reason, communication technology is as much dependent on visual design as it is on audio design, if not more so.

Never forget that communication is at the core of how humans work together. Enhanced communication isn’t a luxury; it’s a practical step towards improving your businesses outcomes. No honest integrator in our industry (at least, not one worth doing business with) would want to sell you AV technology that’s little more than eye-candy.

Whether talking about display technology or audio technology, the same rules apply: we offer effective solutions to real problems—solutions we would and do use ourselves. Below are some video and audio solutions that your organization can use to enhance communication.

Commercial Flat-Screen Displays

Some businesses opt for consumer-grade displays because of the lower price. But as with everything in life, you get what you pay for. Unlike consumer models, commercial screens are built for long-term use, versatility, and greater control. Consumer display should only run for of 4 to 6 hours a day at most. They also don’t cool down as effectively as commercial displays, which are built to run up to 24 hours a day.

Because commercial displays are more robust than consumer models, they have a wider range of use. There are commercial models for interior and exterior signage, way-finding, and video wall processing. Most if not all commercial displays come with long-term manufacturer warranties, better video quality, and a longer lifespan than the consumer-grade alternative. It won’t pay off if your business settles for less.

Video Walls

Video walls use a multi-display setup to create large, stand-out visuals that would be impossible with a single display. They rely on both an array of tandem displays and the software that brings them together. Video walls are perfect for command and control rooms, visualization rooms, stadiums, and venues, or anywhere else that requires an expansive visual experience.

Need to visualize large map data in high resolution? Monitor a grid of security video feeds? Wow the socks off everyone who goes through your lobby? Then a video wall might be your best choice. As always, an AV integrator can help you find a solution to meet your budget and goals.

Digital Signage

If you want powerful, attention-grabbing visual communication in your store, campus, business, or any other public space, digital signage is the way to go. Today’s technology allows you to tailor your message based on location, target audience, and product type, providing a customized visual experience on any scale. Digital signage is perfect for creating impactful lobby displays at your corporate office, intuitive way-finding systems for healthcare environments, or powerful visual marketing in retail locations.

Acoustic Design

No sound system can make up for poor acoustic design. It’s important to consult an AV integrator who understands sound reinforcement, echo cancellation, how to minimize unwanted reverberations, and even how to choose furniture for ideal acoustics. Experienced AV integrators can help you create an acoustic environment—one that lowers demotivating and stressful distractions in the workplace, increases overall job satisfaction, and bolsters employee morale.

Audio Systems

Professionally designed audio systems are essential in every collaboration environment. Whether that environment requires conferencing, paging, or presentation, properly designed audio is critical. Today, AV integrators can offer audio solutions with a variety of features, including central networked system control, crisp audio through digital signal processing, and zoned distribution. It’s never been easier to customize your audio system to work exactly as you need.

Sound Masking

Whether you work in an open-plan space or an isolated office, odds are you’ve experienced your share of noise distraction in the workplace. Sound masking is the perfect way to eliminate noise distractions and increase speech privacy. By sculpting the ambient sound of the room, sound masking covers unwanted noise without becoming distracting itself. In the process, sound masking lowers the radius of speech intelligibility—meaning more privacy, productivity, and comfort in any office.

Goal Number 3: Increase flexibility.

Not only is a flexible workplace attractive to the modern workforce, it is more effective and efficient than the alternative. As the world shrinks and organizations grow on a larger and larger scale, flexibility has become essential. Companies that fail to evolve and become more flexible will be surpassed by more agile competitors.

Effective leaders today focus less on monitoring employees from clock-in to clock-out. Instead, they focus on maximizing human potential. By increasing flexibility, leaders signal a level of respect and trust. Flexibility means providing employees with more freedom—such as the opportunity to work remotely. Leaders that do so in earnest will empower the individual while strengthening the team. The result? Increased morale, higher profits, and a better pool of talent to hire from.

Flexible workplaces only work thanks to powerful and cost-effective communications technology solutions. Not all businesses will become flexible—at least, not quickly enough. But if you want to make your company an enjoyable workplace with maximal productivity as soon as possible, you have to adopt technology that makes it possible. In the process, you’ll gain a greater ability to face the challenges—and grab the opportunities—that emerge in our increasingly diverse and interconnected world.

Video Conferencing

One of the best technologies for flexible collaboration, video conferencing brings teams together—anytime, anywhere. Thanks to video conferencing technology today, you can have face-to-face meetings from afar. With today’s solutions, it’s easier than ever for remote team members to join in and collaborate.

There’s no substitute for quality video conferencing solutions integrated by AV experts. An integrator should work with you to customize your video conferencing experience, and to find solutions that provide fast, clear, and secure connections. Video conferencing is a great way to empower team collaboration, increase agility, and work smarter.

Cloud-Based Solutions

Today’s cloud-based services provide powerful, secure, and scalable collaboration solutions. An example of a cloud-based service we love using is Starleaf Breeze. It allows participants to connect with high-quality audio and video over any device. Breeze is so intuitive and easy to use that users need little to no training to get started.

Cloud conferencing is just one example of how the cloud provides for more flexible and scalable collaboration. Wireless collaboration solutions like the Kramer VIA Connect Pro allow users to share and collaborate over cloud-hosted files. You can easily view, edit, and comment on cloud-hosted data in real time from any laptop or mobile device. The VIA is a powerful and flexible cloud-equipped collaboration solution with a simple and easy-to-use interface.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

One of the best and easiest ways to increase workplace flexibility is adopting BYOD technology. We’ve made the case for BYOD in the past, and for good reason. BYOD provides convenience, flexibility, job satisfaction, and increased productivity to any workplace.

Solutions like the Barco ClickShare, Christie Brio, and Kramer VIA are prime examples of powerful BYOD technology. Clickshare, perhaps the simplest of the three, is as powerful as it is easy to use. With one easy click, up to four simultaneous users can connect and share from any mobile or laptop device. The Brio and VIA are more powerful collaboration solutions, perfect for when you need a secure, customizable, and feature-rich BYOD solution. As always, a knowledgeable AV integrator can help you find the perfect solution for your collaboration goals.

Counting the Cost

No one solution is right for everyone. But every company that wishes to excel should consider the ways that innovation drives success. Don’t just look at the cost of innovating. Look at the cost of failing to collaborate smarter, communicate better, and become more flexible.

There will always be an excuse for why you shouldn’t adopt a new technology. It’s scary, investing in something new. But when you invest in workplace innovation at any level, you invest in empowering your team to excel beyond the status quo. In the long run, excellence is worth the cost.


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