Reshaping the workspace:
The future of AV in the office

AV white paper workplace

Audio Visual and Video Conferencing tools are changing our relationship with the office and remote working

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we work forever and businesses need to adapt to a new normal. For many, the office is no longer their primary daily location, where they arrive at 9am and leave at 5pm. Instead, it is now much more likely to be a flexible hub, where people can drop in if they have specific needs, but aren’t physically tied to a particular space.

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According to some studies, more than half of people in the UK expect their employer to have a rethink of issues like flexible working post-Covid.

Download our FREE WHITE PAPER to learn about the changes that are happening to the workplace and how to adjust your business to the new environment.

In the White Paper” The future of AV in the office” you will learn:

  • Is the office dead? What is the future of the workplace
  • How to successfully have face-to-face meetings
  • Reimagining the office layout
  • Why 76% of people avoid the office to get important work done.
  • How to enable employees to have a better work-life balance
Discover more by downloading our FREE White Paper below:
business office post covid-19

Reimagining the Office

The lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic will have an impact on the workplace itself. With many traditional offices not able to meet social distancing rules without significant changes, such as blocking off desks and restricting the number of people in the office at any one time, continued home working may be the only choice for many.

Upgrading Audio-Visual (AV) and Video Conferencing tools will be a must to ensure firms can make this more agile way of working a success. It also means a wider rethink of how companies use their workspaces and what changes will need to be made in order to facilitate a more remote workforce.

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Healthcare Solutions

Hospitals, doctor’s surgeries and other clinical practices have been increasingly using video consultation technologies in recent years, with this being used for multidisciplinary team meetings where specialists are connecting from several locations, as well as for doctor-to-patient communications.

To ensure healthcare providers can be certain that the tools they are accessing meet the stringent data protection requirements of their sector, it’s vital they choose a supplier with the right security experience and capabilities. This is especially true when embracing cloud services that will be at the foundation of services like Video Conferencing.

Our ClineCall Video Platform offers a range of cloud based video conferencing and consultation solutions to healthcare professionals. Whether looking for a simple way to hold a video consultation with a patient, consult with another clinician or manage unscheduled emergency video enquiries, the ClineCall Service can help. Arrow is a Crown Commercial Service Supplier, making it simple for public sector and healthcare organisations to use ClineCall.

healthcare video consultation

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The office post-lockdown

  1. An unexpected revolution

For a variety of reasons, agile working is here to stay, and the office will have to adapt to it. For instance, much has been made of the long-term effects of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic on how we work. According to some studies, more than half of people in the UK expect their employer to have a rethink of issues like flexible working post-Covid, with many gearing up for a much more agile long-term future.

However, while this may have sped up plans, demands for increased agility have not come out of nowhere. Indeed, there were already forecasts that up to half of Brits would work remotely in 2020[1], long before we’d ever heard of Covid-19.

Upgrading audio-visual (AV) and videoconferencing tools will be a must to ensure firms can make this more agile way of working a success. But this doesn’t just mean equipping employees with better communications technologies. It’s also likely to mean a wider rethink of how companies use their workspaces and what changes will need to be made in order to facilitate a more remote workforce.

  1. What’s happening to the workplace?

There are a few key trends that have been taking place over the past few years that have seen the role of the office change. Both technological and cultural shifts have required firms to rethink their attitudes to the office, and in turn, this will have a huge impact on how colleagues keep in touch with each other, as well as with suppliers and customers.

[The agile working revolution:

  • 22% of UK workers have changed roles or jobs for improved flexibility[2]
  • 36% of employees would prefer agile working over a pay rise[3]
  • 76% of people avoid the office when they need to get important work done[4]]
A sea-change in the way we work

Millions of workers up and down the UK have been able to benefit from a more agile way of working brought about by the latest technology, which enables them to have a better work-life balance. Even those traditionally thought of as needing to be in the office, such as contact centre agents who would require a direct connection to a business comms system, are now often able to work just as productively from home thanks to solutions such as cloud telephony systems and high-speed broadband connectivity.

At the same time, the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic will have an impact on the workplace itself. With many traditional offices not able to meet social distancing rules without significant changes, such as blocking off desks and restricting the number of people in the office at any one time, continued home working may not be a choice for many.

In the longer-term, as people become used to this, it could give rise to much smaller workplaces without the traditional open-plan, assigned desks. This will naturally affect how we keep in touch, with tools like videoconferencing playing a vital role in this.

The death of the office?

So does this mean the age of the office is over? Well, not exactly. The traditional workplace may not be completely dead yet, as there will remain a few good reasons for continuing to come into the office.

For instance, when it comes to hosting meetings – especially those with customers – having a central location with high-quality AV equipment will still be useful. Whether this is for giving a multimedia presentation or simply being able to have a face-to-face conversation, the need for a quality physical location will never go away entirely.

Elsewhere, offices will likely become hubs for more social activity. This could be working on group collaboration projects or just having somewhere to chat with co-workers. But either way, it will require a realignment of how they operate. This means fewer banks of desks and more social and collaboration areas, while meeting spaces will need to be upgraded so those in the room and those connecting remotely can take part on an equal footing.

  1. Creating the right environment for the new way of working

One of the first considerations for businesses when it comes to adapting to this new environment will be ensuring that their office spaces are equipped to make the use of advanced AV and videoconferencing tools a success.

Reimagining the workspace

A key question will be how you manage your workspace to ensure that everyone in the organisation feels connected and part of the same team, regardless of where they are working or how they are connecting with their colleagues. The typical office may end up being smaller and more communally-focused, but it should provide benefits that may not be possible remotely. Not just socialisation, but the ability to work face-to-face, workshop ideas and share information in a much more natural way than is possible via a screen.

At the same time, it is to be expected that not everyone will want or be physically able to be present at a meeting, so workplaces will have to ensure they can manage hybrid meetings, where some participants will be there in person, while others are connecting remotely. In these situations, it can become easy for those who are physically present together to dominate proceedings, so it will be vital for businesses to plan out what they can do to ensure everyone can contribute equally.

While some of this will come down to how meetings are conducted, the technology itself has a key role to play. If those appearing by video have trouble hearing others, or being heard themselves, this can harm productivity and undermine the efforts of those people who aren’t in the office.

A more multifunctional environment

In this new environment, physical meeting spaces will have to offer employees something different, which they may not be able to get while connecting remotely via a laptop screen. Instead of being seen simply as places where we go to have meetings, these spaces will need to be transformed into a more multifunctional environment that better supports collaboration and teamwork.

It will no longer be enough simply to offer a webcam and mic combination that can be used to connect with colleagues. To be effective in the new normal, meeting spaces will need the ability to present and share information seamlessly in order to allow for collaboration and larger displays to enhance the experience of those present. These steps will be vital in converting meeting rooms from simply spaces to have discussions to primary hubs for teamwork, socialisation and innovation.

  1. Equipping your business with the technology to master AV

When it comes to the meeting room itself, achieving this goal of a more immersive, multifunctional space will require a range of technologies, as well as a rethink of how the design of the space contributes to its overall effectiveness.

The technologies needed to transform meeting spaces

Businesses will also have to think about how hybrid meetings, where participants are taking part both in person and remotely, can be more productive. And having high-quality AV equipment, including high-definition cameras, effective mics that can filter out background noise, and large-screen display monitors is only the start.

For instance, it’s important to consider how a presentation may differ when it’s being conducted via videoconferencing. In these cases, it will probably not be effective to use standard, single-screen video software where a speaker is reduced to a small box in the corner of the display while running through a presentation. It’s well-documented that a large percentage of how we communicate comes from visual cues, so even when the focus is on visual aids, being able to clearly see the speaker will be hugely beneficial.

Therefore, new ways of thinking about AV displays may be required. For example, adding second screens that can allow a speaker to maintain eye contact while still presenting may be advantageous. Elsewhere, equipping rooms with virtual whiteboards that can be used both in the room and remotely can also aid collaboration.

Getting the design right

Another key factor will be how the design and layout of your office affects the performance of your AV equipment. As more meetings take place with remote workers via videoconference, it will be essential to take into account your surroundings – and this may mean a rethink.

For example, many meeting room designs over the past few years have leaned heavily on glass walls and doors. This can have a range of advantages for firms, as it can make rooms feel lighter and airier and offer a modern, aesthetically-pleasing environment for employees and guests. But from an AV perspective, this can cause many problems.

Hard materials like glass cause sound to reflect and reverberate throughout the room. While this may not be especially noticeable for participants who are physically present, it can make it very difficult for those listening in remotely, as mics will easily pick up these sounds and make it harder for people to make out the speaker’s words. Instead, materials like wood panelling that are better able to absorb unwanted sounds should be considered wherever meeting spaces are expected to be frequently used for video calls.

Other issues to consider include cable management, from being certain infrastructure is up to the task of delivering high-quality, low-latency performance to ensuring that as the amount of hardware used in meeting spaces grows, cables are not left exposed or cluttered where they could be a hazard.

Elsewhere, the placement of both mics and cameras will need to be considered. Too many meeting rooms remain stuck with poorly-angled cameras that fail to give remote participants an adequate view of their office-based colleagues, or have a single central mic that struggles to pick up speakers who are too far away or at the wrong angle. If the meeting room is to become a hub for a more agile way of working, these are issues that must be addressed as quickly as possible.

  1. A special case – how to make video work in clinical settings

While it’s likely to be the case that businesses across many sectors will need to adopt new AV and videoconferencing solutions to meet the demands of the changing world, one area that will need a special focus is healthcare.

Hospitals, doctor’s surgeries and other clinical practices have been increasingly using these technologies in recent years, with this being used for multidisciplinary team meetings where specialists are connecting from several locations, as well as for doctor-to-patient communications.

This is another area where long-term expectations may have been changed by the Covid pandemic. Indeed, in April 2020, the NHS reported that 38 per cent of people had increased their use of technology since the start of the outbreak[5]. This included the use of video tools such as Microsoft Teams, which recorded more than 76,000 private calls and 68,000 team calls in the first full week of the UK’s lockdown.

Ensuring accessibility

Having proven itself in real-world conditions in the coronavirus pandemic, the use of doctor-to-patient video conferencing tools is likely to remain a key part of the NHS’ technology toolkit in the long term. This makes it easier and faster to consult with patients and frees up medical professionals’ time for those who are in need of face-to-face care. For patients, it can also reduce the need for long trips and waits in health facilities, which may be especially important for those living in more rural and remote locations.

However, to be successful, such tools must be easy to use, especially for patients who may have little technical knowledge. Therefore, unlike many enterprise AV solutions, which are designed and built with B2B usage in mind, healthcare video tools must be able to provide a simple, bespoke B2C experience. This means it must be easy to connect and available on every device.

Maintaining security

However, while a good B2C user experience will be a must, such services must maintain B2B-level security features. As these calls will deal with people’s most sensitive personal health information, it’s vital that there is no ability for non-approved individuals to participate or eavesdrop on calls. Disabling common enterprise features such as call recording will be a must, for both doctors and patients, while strong end-to-end encryption is also vital.

To ensure healthcare providers can be certain that the tools they are accessing meet the stringent data protection requirements of their sector, it’s vital they choose a supplier with the right security experience and capabilities. This is especially true when embracing cloud services that will be at the foundation of services like videoconferencing.

Arrow’s ClineCall Video Platform offers a range of cloud based video conferencing and consultation solutions to healthcare professionals. Whether looking for a simple way to hold a video consultation with a patient, consult with another clinician or manage unscheduled emergency video enquiries, the ClineCall Service can help. Arrow is a Crown Commercial Service Supplier, making it simple for public sector and healthcare organisations to use ClineCall.

  1. Making your office fit for the future

With the role of the office set to change significantly in the coming years, taking the right steps now to reinvent these spaces to better support a more agile workforce – while still giving employees a reason to come into the physical location will be vital.

It must be remembered that this is not only about technology. While AV equipment and videoconferencing software will have a key role to play in this, it must be supported by effective office designs that take the differing demands of a hybrid workspace into account.

Preparing a workspace for the future will need to be a holistic process that takes into account the hardware and software that will be required, as well as any wider changes that will need to be made – from ensuring wired and wireless networks are able to cope, to adjusting the layout or design of meeting rooms. To do this, firms will need access to the right advice on every aspect of their investments, so selecting a partner that can offer guidance across the entire project will greatly increase the chances of success.

For those who have specialist requirements, such as the healthcare sector, proven partners with the right credentials and expertise will also be essential in balancing the competing needs of ease of use and security, while still ensuring an organisation has everything it needs to connect remotely and deliver services to users.

To learn more about what firms can do to prepare their workspaces for the needs of the future, please get in touch today with Arrow Business Communications on 0330 440 4444 or email enquiries@arrowcommunications.co.uk

[1] https://www.hso.co.uk/leased-lines/technology-news/homeworking-news/50-of-uk-workforce-to-work-remotely-by-2020

[2] https://www.aviva.com/newsroom/news-releases/2019/03/one-in-four-uk-workers-have-quit-roles-for-greater-flexibility/

[3] https://www.enei.org.uk/diversity-inclusion/excellence-in-diversity-inclusion/agile-working

[4] https://www.atlassian.com/teams/the-me-in-team

[5] https://digital.nhs.uk/news-and-events/news/increase-in-nhs-tech-usage