Do you really need more meeting rooms, or would more-informed technology?
The statistical analysis of your screen-tapping patterns reveals much about your personal and professional priorities. This data, combined with additional input on how and when you use some of the more-neglected apps on your mobile device, provides an interesting picture of what motivates you, what makes you more efficient and what tools are required to ensure your productivity.
Now think about your office in the same way. Which of the meeting rooms are used most often, and which communication and control technologies are accessed consistently in each of those spaces?
Analysis of enterprise usage patterns can provide more than a philosophical treatise on how team members operate in the modern workplace. It could actually save you money and boost return on investment in technology.
Data Enhances Enterprise Design
A new trend in audio/visual design is helping companies optimize their real estate/technology mix in ways that boost team members as well as the bottom line. An array of analytics tools and methods are providing valuable insights on how people prefer to work and which tools enable the most effective use of collaborative spaces.
Now that everything is on the network, there is a centralized means to collect technical information on how equipment and applications are used. A mix of data, sourced from hardware and software, as well as environmental controls for lights, shades and thermostat, can be cross-referenced to create a picture of popular meeting styles. Even the number of participants can be included in the equation, based on the number of wireless network connections accessed at a given point.
The anonymized data is not meant to track specific behavior, but rather analyze general trends. This analysis can help determine how teams like to work, accounting for a number of subtle technology use indicators and creating a complete picture of how rooms are actually used.
Once these data points are processed, enterprise usage analysis car produce surprising recommendations. On occasion, in an office setting where team members are frustrated by a lack of meeting room availability, the solution might not always be the addition of more technology. Rather, data might indicate a need for more types and shapes of meeting spaces. The problem can be solved by reconfiguring underutilized real estate for smaller meeting areas and “huddle rooms” to serve the quick, regular meetings and calls among team members.
Sometimes it’s just that simple. Provide more rooms equipped with the most frequently used tools and productivity and team member happiness increases.
Additionally, usage analytics can also provide more-granular pieces of intelligence to guide future technology purchasing decisions. Is the in-room audio system being used? Or will laptop speakers or headphones be good enough? Are meeting rooms occupied more frequently than individual desks? Maybe a hot-desking setup would suffice. On a larger infrastructure scale, questions on data storage and management can also be answered with a look at where information is stored, how it’s accessed, where it’s transported and so on.
How Does Your Team Collaborate Best?
Office real estate was once a fairly simple design problem. Calculating the total number of employees, divided into departments, provided a fairly clear blueprint of how many desks and meeting rooms were needed. But in these days of remote workers, increasing collaboration among various intra-company teams and a general trend toward the open-plan office, the equation becomes more difficult.
The fact is, the ratio of desks to meeting rooms and other types of collaborative work spaces will vary by department. Factors such as who is meeting where, with whom, how often and for what purpose will vary greatly.
Here it’s important for an ongoing design collaboration to occur between IT, A/V and integrated enterprise technology solution providers. Together, these experts can provide a needs analysis that, when combined with the usage data, can produce an accurate picture of how “collaboration” is defined in your workspace today. Then, given the rapid pace of change, a look into the near future might be in order. What might your enterprise look like as more members of the younger generations move in and some of the foundational team members retire?
An audio/visual technology integrator can also provide ideas about how new collaborative technologies can change the office landscape. Maybe your team members would like to see a video display in the kitchen, with content pulled from social media, corporate communications and business information sources. Some offices have even added casual videoconferencing meeting setups to the kitchen, for quick video chats with remote team members on the fly.
Careful thought should be given to the specialized needs of certain teams, such as research and development and other engineering or production-focused tasks that require advanced tools such as 3D printers, visualization equipment and high-end computational and display equipment. Potentially this type of advanced space could be designed as a “collaboratory” for wider use within the organization.
Data and design can combine to create optimal working environments that are used often and by many. There’s an add-on benefit there, too. The more the technology is used, odds are there will be a decrease in questions, IT requests and downtime due to broken equipment. Make meeting and collaboration spaces fun and useful and you’ll boost your ROI on equipment.
Amplify Your Company Culture
As more enterprise spaces are creatively optimized for teamwork, there are also new opportunities to enhance office culture. For incoming generations of employees, as well as for anyone who enjoys more freedom and engagement in the workplace, technology can be a real boon to attracting and retaining talent.
It’s possible to be a “cool company” without breaking the bank. It’s only a matter of using real estate in creative ways. Once again, look at those usage analytics to figure out which office areas are neglected and have the potential to be optimized as a fun or productive spot to connect with other team members.
Observe how your team members like to meet and socialize. If they congregate in the kitchen, consider that as an opportunity to create more interaction and engagement. Use a video display for fantasy football or other company-created content. Maybe it could even be a scoreboard for the office ping-pong table.
If you have an especially creative workforce, consider creating a space that makes it easy for engaged employees to create video content for your brand. The whole company can benefit from these tools, and team members will have fun using them, too.
For those arriving in the workplace straight out of college, technology expectations are particularly high. In addition to interactive displays and communications technologies, they are used to unique offerings like large collaborative displays used for work and entertainment content. They’re looking for easy ways to connect with displays and share images, videos, apps and maybe even video games.
Gamification of the workplace continues to be a trend, and here, too, video technology offers some creative solutions. Leader boards provide great personal motivation in the workplace. Here too is an opportunity to reinforce how each team member’s piece of a project matters to the overall success of the company. Knowing the “why” of tasks adds meaning to work.
If your company decides to create a dynamic impression from the outset with an integrated video wall in the lobby, there are ways to optimize that piece for internal benefit as well. Find ways to use the video wall for town halls and team-building; maybe create skills competitions and invite people to share their work on the big screen.
As audio visual solutions play an increasingly vital role in workplace communications, take a look around the office to see what creative, new ways video and interactive technology can provide more engagement. Enhancing the experience of your team members definitely benefits the company on many levels, for fun and profit!
Ingolf de Jong is president and owner of Gencomm Inc. in Draper, Utah. He serves on the Salt Lake Chamber board of governors and is the chair of the Small Business Committee. He has been in the technology industry since 1979 and has served on a variety of audio/visual industry boards.
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