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Just as the invention of the printing press eliminated the need to copy out entire books by hand, just as the invention of the airplane shortened the trip from New York to LA by 35 hours, and just as the invention of e-mail made it unnecessary to send pieces of paper across the Atlantic and then wait two months for a response, so too can conference room technology help your company reduce the preposterous amount of time you waste in unproductive meetings each year (about 372 hours, according to one study) .
Here are 5 conference room technology investments you should make in order to enhance the business meeting experience:

Wireless Presentation Solution

It used to be the case that if you wanted to accompany your business presentation with a visual aid, you’d have to print it off on a sheet of paper, get the paper made into a transparency, and then book an overhead projector to show it.
Now all you have to do is connect your laptop to a screen or projector.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. In conference rooms that rely on wires, finding the right cable or adapter can be just as time-consuming as making a transparency. Laptops come with so many different video outputs (HDMI, VGA, DVI, mini DisplayPort, etc) that accommodating them all is an exercise in futility.
This is why a wireless presentation solution can come in handy. By taking wires out of the equation, end users just have to press a button to connect their laptops. Needless to say, the amount of time it takes to press a button isn’t quite the same as the amount of time it takes to call up the IT department and ask them to rush over to the conference room with a VGA-to-HDMI adapter.

Visual Display and AV Equipment

Presentation software and hardware can only work to their full potential with the right visual equipment in place. Projectors, 4K TVs, electronic whiteboards, interactive displays, etc. can bring thoughts and ideas to life. For team activities, the display is the stage for real-time, in-depth discussion. People can connect, see each other, and heighten the meeting experience without time and location barriers.

Productivity Tools

One of the biggest culprits of meeting room time-wastage is the non-delivery of deliverables. If a team member hasn’t adequately prepared for the meeting, everyone loses. A great way to keep everyone on track is to invest in productivity tools such as Trello, Azendoo, or Redbooth.

Unified Communications

The number of communication tools — both hardware and software — currently available is staggering. By investing in a unified communications system, you can create a centralized location for tools on your network to be accessible from anywhere. This makes communication easier, both inside and outside the conference room.

Meeting Room Scheduling Software

It can be hard to have a productive meeting when all of the meetings rooms in your building are booked. By implementing meeting room scheduling software such as Teem, you can make sure that double bookings are a thing of the past.
Meeting room software can also help you optimize your meeting rooms. If a large room with a projector is constantly getting booked by a small group that never uses the projector or a small room with no projector is always being used by a large group that needs a projector, your company would greatly benefit from Teem.

Conclusion

Any investment you make in your company’s conference room technology comes down to the people who will be using it. It is important to consider them in your decision-making process. We all want to have the best technology available to our teams. Make the right decisions to make sure technology is working with—and not against—you and your colleagues.
ADDITIONAL READING
AV System Integrators: Are They Really Necessary?
Conference Room Design: A Guide For the Perplexed
7 Must-Have Video Inputs For Your Conference Table Connectivity Box
 

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Technology is all around us. From tablets to smartphones to interactive displays to wireless projection, we seem to be constantly plugged in. But wearable devices are taking our relationship with technology even further. Wearable tech includes a broad range of electronics such as smartwatches, fitness trackers, smart clothing, glasses, accessories, and even implanted chips. Each of these “smart’ electronic devices is worn on the body of users for convenience, data accuracy, and aesthetics.
There are few who haven’t heard of or seen someone wearing one of these devices. In fact, over 33 million devices have been sold worldwide this year, according to a recent Business Insider report. In the U.S., 1 in 5 people own a wearable and 1 in 10 use it on a daily basis. The market for wearables is only expected to grow, with forecasts predicting that 148 million units will be sold in 2019.
The market for wearable tech has been slowly building up for years. Until recently, it wasn’t likely that the devices would enter the mainstream. Before, many of these devices were considered solely for personal and fitness use. However, their capabilities are much more sophisticated now than they were a few years ago. Now, they can do everything a smartphone can do and more. They can monitor sleep patterns, measure worker productivity, make phone calls, pay for purchases, track fitness, etc. With the release of Apple’s smartwatch, more consumers are interested in joining the tech-wearing culture.

Wearable Tech in the Workplace

Organizations are also realizing the potential role that they could play in the workplace, and many have or are considering wearable device programs. Studies suggest that a significant portion of the workforce is open to using them, if it helps them complete their job duties or improves work processes.
In one PricewaterhouseCoopers study, 70 percent of employees said, as part of a wellness program, they would use employer-provided wearable devices in exchange for insurance premium discounts. Another study by Cornerstone OnDemand reported that 80 percent of employees would use wearables for health and wellness programs. An even larger percentage would if they earned perks and discounts for using them.
So far, several businesses have reported promising results when using these technologies, especially for engagement and employee wellness programs. A growing number of companies are implementing wellness programs with the help of wearables. For instance, the oil company BP gave around 25,000 employees FitBits to monitor their health and fitness. Employees that reached a certain number of steps, received benefits on insurance premiums and other perks. Wearables can increase the effectiveness of these wellness programs, which could save organizations up to $264 per year, per employee.
When employees are happy, they are 12 percent more productive. According to a study from Goldsmith University, organizations that use wearables can increase employee productivity by 8.5 percent and job happiness by 3.5 percent. Grocery chain, Tesco, has started giving employees in their warehouses smart armbands that monitor worker productivity. The bands check shipments and send data like task completion time to managers. They can also detect worker fatigue to prevent work-related accidents.
There are dozens of possible benefits for using wearables in the workplace and it’s likely more companies will implement them. However, before rushing to order some wearables for the office, companies should address some key considerations.

Employee Privacy

One of the top reasons why individuals are hesitant to embrace a wearable world is data privacy. According to a PwC survey, 82 percent of people worry wearables would invade their privacy. Some countries are even considering regulations for how organizations use them in the workplace. For instance, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) agency proposed limitations that if passed would restrict what types of data that companies can collect from employees using wearables and how they can use that information.
Companies need to set a distinguished line between ethical and unethical data usage. They should communicate with employees regarding the types of data that will be collected, and explain how that information will be used to help improve their work processes and satisfaction. Especially for health metrics, companies should have a data usage policy that they send to workers to review and approve before moving forward.
Many companies that have implemented wearable technology in the workplace have done so on an opt-in basis, making using the device optional. Some, like Tesco, may choose only to use the device while at work. To ensure that they balance employee privacy with improving working conditions, companies and their employees should establish guidelines for how and when the devices are to be used.

Data Security

Security is another primary reason individuals and organizations may be hesitant to adopt a wearable-friendly workplace. According to the PwC survey, 86 percent believe wearable devices could make them more vulnerable to data breaches.
Wearables were not originally designed for the workplace. The early versions were intended mainly for personal fitness and health monitoring. Now that many organizations are envisioning how wearables in the workplace could assist with initiatives like increased worker productivity and engagement, IT leaders are faced with how to secure these devices.
Wearables, like mobile devices, are more likely to be stolen or lost than a company desktop. Unlike other mobile devices though, it may be unclear if critical company data can be remotely wiped from them. Before introducing them to the office, organizations should develop a wearable device management policy that enables them to protect data from falling into the wrong hands.

User Engagement

Many businesses struggle with employee engagement. In fact, an estimated 87 percent of employees are disengaged. Disengaged employees often cause organizations to lose revenue, increase turnover rates, and negatively affect the work environment.
Technology is often used to assist in employee engagement initiatives. Wearables are one of the latest tech tools that are being introduced into the workplace as part of those programs. Oftentimes, companies see huge success when combining engagement with technology. However, where companies make a fatal error is thinking that the technology is the simple solution.
A wearable is just another tool. If companies don’t give users a value for using it, then they most likely won’t. Without sufficient reasons, they will eventually lose interest and stop using it. A study from Endeavour Partners reported that one-third of those that bought a wearable stopped using it after six months.
The study concluded that users found the devices valuable when they used them. The trick was getting them to continue usage. How do organizations keep users interested even after the honeymoon period?
There are some common themes that can be found in companies that use wearables effectively. For one, they give employees incentives like rewards and insurance discounts for interacting with the technology. Secondly, they don’t just present data to users, they incite actions. Lastly, they have specific goals.
Goals are perhaps the most important item a company should address in order for a wearable technology program to be optimally effective. For example, Tesco initiated its program with a clear, defined set of goals in mind. One of those was to increase the productivity of warehouse workers. By making the device part of the process and tracking completion time, it improved overall efficiency.
When wearable devices are used ethically and with proper security measures, they have the potential to empower employees, improve procedures, and enhance the work environment. However, organizations need to first assess how these devices will improve their business processes before jumping headfirst into the wearable tech bandwagon. Are you implementing wearable technology in your workplace yet? If so, how are you implementing it?
Additional Reading
Conference Room Technology: 5 Investments You Should Make
Conference Room Cable Management Checklist
Conference Room Design: 10 Examples Worth Studying

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The way we conduct meetings has changed over the years, thanks to technology. From the telephone to video to the interactive display, meeting rooms and huddle spaces are no longer bound to location and time zones. The tools we use have certainly evolved to help us be more productive, efficient, and collaborative.
Let’s look at how conference room technology has grown:
Telephone conferencing. Alexander Graham-Bell’s telephone in 1877 changed how we communicate from remote locations. Business meetings didn’t need to be in the same room. No need to wait for messages to arrive via telegraph or post. He brought real-time communication!
Since then, we’ve seen the telephone’s purpose change thanks to innovations, such as:

  • The speakerphone allowed groups to speak through a single 1:1 communication flow.
  • Conference functionality allowed a user to connect more than one phone line to another or transfer to another.
  • Conference call systems opened communication to allow multiple phones to connect into a single line.

WATCH:The Birth of Telecommunications” (History)
Video conferencing added a visual element to work communication. People could see and speak to one another. Video initially was an enhancement to audio. Since then, it flipped with the rise of the Internet and cloud connectivity.
Video communication has changed how we see, hear, and speak with one another. Tools like Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts and WebEx gives us options to record or live stream our conversations. All the while, we make our business portable and social.
VIEW:The History of Videoconferencing” (Telemerge, Inc./SlideShare)
Where are we today? The wireless presentation has bridged the gap between teleconferencing and videoconferencing. It has promoted unified communication to allow teams to connect across different platforms, devices, and audio visual setups. It’s changing company cultures by bringing people together through a central access point.
We’re able to contribute and bring value to our meetings no matter our location.
WATCH: Get Started with Ubiq
Where do we go next? Take a look at what Lightpath put together in a great timeline infographic on “The Evolution of the Business Meeting.”
Tell us where you see conference room technology and conference room AV equipment are heading!

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Advanced technologies like cloud adoption, collaboration tools, wireless projection, and mobile devices are changing how organizations reach their bottom line. In working environments around the world, collaboration is becoming the norm. Instead of working alone in cubicles, more offices are adopting open floor plans or sharing coworking spaces.
According to Queens University of Charlotte, 3 out 4 employers view teamwork as very important to business success. Many companies are implementing technologies to make it easier for employees to work together on projects and increase overall efficiency. However, the question many face is how to get them to use it effectively.
Whether you’re deploying a new wireless presentation software, internal employee site, or interactive displays, simplicity is key. How can simplicity help foster collaboration in your organization?

Anyone can use it

The success of collaboration ultimately relies on end user usage. Tools should never get in the way of tasks. Most collaboration tools are designed to improve processes. They are meant to increase productivity and flexibility by allowing users to work together in real-time from anywhere, not just workstations and huddle spaces. If a new software or program is too complicated or has too many features, it could have the opposite effect. A product that is meant to make a process easier and more efficient can actually end up slowing individuals down.
Furthermore, a complex system often requires users to go through hours or days of training in order to use it effectively. Simplicity allows users to bypass any learning curve and jump straight into projects.

It encourages users

Having a high-tech device or expensive software available doesn’t guarantee that people will take advantage of it. The ultimate goal is for it to be a valuable resource that they consistently want to use. Part of successful adoption of any service is in realizing the value it provides, but another crucial part some organization forget is making it easy to use.
Simplicity helps make users more open to trying a new tool. For instance, collaboration tools should be able to integrate with other systems that they commonly use. This streamlines the workflow, saves time, and increases productivity.

There’s less room for confusion

In a study by Salesforce.com, 97 percent of employees and executives agreed that the outcome of a task is directly impacted if there is a lack of alignment or understanding within a team. As a project grows in complexity, the likelihood of all the team members understanding it often decreases.
When simplicity is at the core of any job function, it leaves little room for confusion. In other words, it helps to ensure that all members involved in a project or business know the objectives and goals and how to reach them.
Businesses that adopt a collaborative work environment can increase productivity and even improve the quality of end products. However, many organizations realize the value of collaboration to their success, but still aren’t sure how to implement it. This is where simplicity is crucial. In order to foster beneficial collaboration in your organization, simplicity needs to be the driving force behind it.

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The average rate of productivity in the workplace is said to have improved slightly in the past year, according to the Department of Labor (DoL). However, many organizations are still challenged in this area. For instance, another survey by Salary.com found that 89 percent of employees waste time each day, with some losing at least 30 minutes by doing non-related work tasks.
When it comes to increasing worker efficiency, several factors from health and sleep patterns to office design and desk plants have been said to influence it. Year over year though, a few hacks have continued to prove effective in boosting office productivity.
1. Take Control of Technology
Several studies have shown that technology can boost worker productivity, but only when used effectively. One example of effective technology usage is to save time. For example, implementing wireless presentation software can open up time that was once wasted on setting up meetings, implementing digital signage that sends your conference room calendar to all of your interactive displays can help increase meeting room attendance, and using video conferencing can save you from traveling across the globe.
The key is to guide and control how certain technologies are used to create engagement and avoid distraction. For example, online collaboration tools allow workers to share, proofread, and edit projects in real-time from anywhere, accelerating the entire process. However, relying on them too much or using them unnecessarily can decrease efficiency. Organizations need to find the balance that works best for them.
Blog 2
2. Set Performance Goals and Track them  
One basic factor that can hurt productivity is that employees simply don’t know what is expected from them. When organizations give their employees specific, clear and realistic goals, it can help boost motivation and competition. This is especially true when individuals are rewarded or recognized publicly for meeting and exceeding goals. In fact, not recognizing achievement is the number one reason that people leave their jobs. Companies can even increase engagement by tracking and gamifying performance milestones. Several online applications and programs like GamEffective can help track productivity and transform it into a game or employee engagement tools like OfficeVibe, that can engage your employees in less than 5 minutes a month.
3. Measure Productivity Consistently
Every business is unique, which means that not every productivity tool or policy will produce substantial results. This is one reason why establishing a consistent method of measurement is essential.
Another, perhaps more important reason, is that it creates the opportunity for company leaders to give employees meaningful feedback and to receive feedback from them. Measuring efficiency in your office should be designed in a way that helps employees grow personally and professionally.
4. Let them Work from Home, Occasionally
The Harvard Business Review published results from a study on Chinese travel company, Ctrip’s remote workers. The company compared the efficiency of employees allowed to work from home to in-office employees for a nine month period. It found that the at-home workers made 13.5 percent more calls per week on average than their in-office counterparts.
The study claimed that giving employees a break from the daily monotony of their workstations, meeting rooms, and huddle spaces can actually boost happiness and productivity. It wasn’t that the at-home group worked harder than the on-site one. It was all about having flexibility. Maintaining a healthy balance between on-site and remote options can increase overall performance.
Employees are the driving force behind every organization’s success. With so many devices and gadgets, they can easily lose focus and fall behind. Organizations that take control of their office environment and engage workers are the ones that will maintain increased productivity and growth year after year.

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Stepping inside a meeting room can feel a lot like stepping inside a black hole: Once you’ve moved beyond the event horizon (i.e. the conference room door), the possibility of escaping within a human lifetime can seem extremely remote. Even huddle spaces — the meeting room’s younger, less time-draining sibling — have a well-documented tendency to hold whoever steps inside them captive for extremely long durations against their will.
But contrary to popular opinion, it is at least theoretically possible for groups of people to set foot inside meeting rooms or huddle spaces and re-emerge within just 30 minutes. Here are 4 ways to help accomplish this: 

  1. Create a To-Do List. A to-do list will help you keep track of the meeting. Being able to check off tasks can help to build motivation and to maintain your focus. Our recommendation would be to create your to-do list for all meetings so you know actually what needs to be done for each person of the team. It’ll give you the opportunity to evaluate your performance and make adjustments in your meeting approach. It will also prepare you for what’s to come.
  2. Time Your Agenda. Your to-do list can help promote time management – which you will know what to speed up and what to slow down. Use your calendar, like Google or Outlook, to send out the agenda prior to the meeting. With Ubiq, you can send your calendar to your conference room TV or interactive displays prior to the meeting to make such that all of the attendees are on the same page. Reserve time to dedicate to projects and tasks, while setting your own expectations for timely completion.
  1. Set Yourself as “Do Not Disturb.” Many of us still get emails, and instant messages during meeting time. The reason for this is because we feel that we can do multiple things at once including replying back to emails or instant messages, and feel the need to reply back. The truth is that many emails can wait, and setting yourself as do not disturb can be a lot more efficient during meetings. Recently, I was in making a wireless presentation during a meeting. However, while I was making a wireless presentation, there were notifications that popped up from my email and instant messaging. One of the emails that I received was from my sister asking me what to eat for dinner. If I set myself as do not disturb, those wouldn’t pop up. Additionally, I would avoid the embarrassment of people reading my emails or messages.
  2. Delegate, When Necessary. It doesn’t hurt to ask for support of others when you need it. That’s the whole point of meetings. Discuss all the problems and best practices with your team. That way, everyone can benefit and sharing stories make meetings go a bit more bearable. When you want to achieve all your goals in meetings, delegate tasks to your peers or have shared tasks. Discussing key problems and delegation can help achieve goals in meetings and create more wins to the team.
  3. Implement a Wireless Presentation System. Every meeting in which users are forced to connect their laptops to the TV or projector with wires or adapters inevitably goes 15 minutes over schedule due to connectivity problems. By investing in a wireless presentation system that allows users to connect their laptop to any audio visual setup regardless of its video outputs, all of this wasted time can easily be avoided.

With fewer distractions and proper delegation of work, you can give proper attention in meetings, which leads to an increase in teamwork and productivity. The challenge comes in how you manage our time and efforts independently and collaboratively. These tips should set you on the right path to getting the most out of your meeting rooms and huddle spaces.
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