New Year, New Room: Why it’s a Perfect Time to Give Your Meeting Rooms a Health Check

With a new year comes a fresh start. After a good portion of the US spent much of their 2020 inside, adjusting to work-from-home for the first time, a fresh start might mean spending the next few months shedding the quarantine 15. It’s a great time to get into the doctor, get a check-up and get back in shape.

But employees aren’t alone in their reduced activity – your office is probably also out of shape. Some of the US’s biggest companies such as Google, Microsoft and Uber have all announced their return-to-work dates are pushed to summer 2021. While the employees are away, tech-heavy spaces such as meeting rooms are sitting unused. With the rapid advances in collaboration technology over the last year, those rooms may not be ready for our new style of work.

Meeting rooms don’t have to be an obstacle upon your return, however. Here are a few reasons why now is a great time to give your meeting room its own “health check” – and get it ready for reopening.

Safety concerns aren’t going away

The introduction of several Coronavirus vaccines is great news for the year ahead. Still, many employees are uncertain of what a return to work might look like. 73% of employees are worried about going back to the physical office. Getting people back in the meeting room, where they crowd around tables and touch the same remotes, laptops and switches, could be a problem.

What’s the solution? Re-evaluating the way employees launch and manage meetings, and reducing as many touches as possible. Make a note of how many remotes and panels each room holds. Are the blinds controlled by an iPad, the TV by a Crestron remote and the lights by a Cisco Touch10 panel? Consider integrating each of these into a single panel or remote.

If employees can enter the meeting room and control everything with a single touch, their chances of spreading or picking up germs is greatly reduced. Of course, the simplicity achieved by integrating remotes is a huge bonus. No more struggling with technology to launch a meeting!

Because offices will continue to practice social distancing even after employees return, it’s likely meeting rooms can’t be as crowded as they once were. As you’re reviewing your meeting rooms, make sure that they offer a consistent experience – the process of launching a meeting, turning up/down the volume or resetting everything after the meeting is over, for example, should be the same in any room your employees enter. This will allow you to spread meetings across several rooms while eliminating any confusion about how to start a virtual meeting.

Remote – and hybrid – work is the new normal

Attitudes toward work-from-home are changing quickly. Only 17% worked from home full-time prior to COVID, while 44% expect to remain fully remote. Another 23% will work a few days in the office and a few days at home. Companies such as Facebook have already said they’re allowing employees to work from home permanently.

Remote and office workers must live in harmony. The new hybrid meeting experience – with some employees in the office and others remote – presents a problem: it will need to feel as personal as the remote meetings we’ve all grown used to. The solution requires installing new technology, such as cameras that can easily find the face of whomever is speaking.

In addition, companies that adopted technology such as Zoom, Webex or Microsoft Teams for the first time while remote will need to ensure their meeting rooms can support those tools. A glitchy video call isn’t a great way to start your first meeting back in the office.

It’s time for an assessment

If you’re using the next few months to prepare your office for this new normal, the RoomReady team can work with you on a video room assessment.

We start by completing a thorough inventory of each meeting room, accounting for every chair, light and remote. We take note of the video endpoints you’re using, and how each element of the room is controlled. We sit down with your team to define the room’s “desired state” – how will the room be used, and what components does it absolutely need to have?

Finally, we work with you to develop a standard room menu, detailing what steps you need to take to upgrade each unique room while ensuring a consistent experience from meeting space to meeting space. We develop a migration plan for you to implement any new technology, and can even complete installation if you choose.

We’re seeing a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, but it’s likely going to be a few months before we can safely return all our employees to the office. In the meantime, you’ve got a great opportunity to ensure your workspaces are ready for their return – and RoomReady is here to help. Learn more about our video room assessment here.