Corporate leaders, managers, HR and IT need to keep teams of people working at headquarters, at customer locations, remotely or in home offices connected, productive and engaged. Doing this means ensuring each team member — regardless of location — has an opportunity to contribute to and participate in meetings.
The success of a meeting with participants in different locations — known as a hybrid meeting — depends on meeting equity.
According to Glen Ryan, business development manager at audio-visual solution distributor Jands, meeting equity is a holistic concept that ensures meeting participants inside and outside a conference room have an equal share of voice.
Too many out-of-office employees excluded from decision-making
Unfortunately, many businesses and government organisations do not commit to the changes to internal processes and practices, or deploy the technologies, to deliver on this vision.
This can compromise the effectiveness of a distributed workforce as employees outside the conference room may feel excluded from participation and decision-making.
Too many businesses do not prioritise delivering meeting room installations that are fit for purpose, due to reasons such as budget limitations, poor understanding of the importance of meeting equity to performance, productivity and engagement, and lack of knowledge of modern products, services and technologies.
Improving meeting quality by eliminating inefficiencies
Christopher Ling, Jands business development manager, told iTnews the quality of a meeting experience could be measured not only by what participants achieved, but what unnecessary activities they avoided. For example, did it take a long time for everyone to connect? Was it easy and intuitive to use the technology? Was the experience up to expectations to enable the meeting to flow without being conscious of the equipment being used?
Making best use of meeting and conference rooms
Keeping distributed workforces connected also means making more effective use of meeting and conference rooms at headquarters and offices in other locations.
“Not every collaboration space needs meeting room technology, but every meeting with technology should enable collaboration,” said Ling.
“Different spaces call for different approaches and different equipment.”
The difficulty of delivering effective hybrid meetings can be exacerbated by equipment that is non-intuitive and time-consuming. Businesses and government organisations — particularly small to medium businesses — do not have the time, resources or specialist skills to manage complex installations.
“We believe businesses need to be able to trust they can maintain and manage their meeting areas and devices just as easily as they manage the other devices used within their operations,” said Ling.
Small to medium businesses in particular need to ensure all meeting hardware costs they outlay are an investment, rather than just a cost.
“Systems they can use and understand will prove that value in the long term,” he said.
“There are ways to use affordable technology and uphold your brand through excellent experiences. It’s not just about being competitive, but ensuring the technology is trustworthy.”
Adopting a modular system
A modular system customisable to individual meeting or conference rooms, and adaptable to a range of budgets, can help IT managers keep distributed workforces connected and deliver meeting equity.
For example, the Shure Stem ecosystem enables businesses and organisations to select from a combination of products, including:
- Stem Wall–a wall mounted speaker with 15 beamforming microphones plus two full-range speakers and subwoofers
- Stem Table–a conference table array speakerphone with nine built-in microphones
- Stem Ceiling–a 100 microphone ceiling array with low-profile or chandelier mounting options
- Stem Speaker–an external speaker with three mounting options
- Stem Hub–a conference communication centre that enables multiple devices to connect to each other to function as an ecosystem
- Stem Control–a dedicated touch controller that allows users to access the Stem ecosystem platform to remotely manage the Stem devices within their organisation, or be used as an in-meeting controller with video conferencing platforms
According to Ryan, businesses and organisations can deploy a Stem ecosystem at a cost approximately 20 percent lower than some competing systems, and about 95 percent faster to design.
The system also fulfils the requirement for small to medium sized businesses in particular for ease of installation and setup.
Analysts Frost & Sullivan conducted a detailed evaluation of the Stem ecosystem and concluded that it enables “even moderately tech-savvy individuals to easily implement full systems with sophisticated capabilities that significantly enhance the conferencing user experience for meeting participants.”
Jands distributes Shure products in Australia
Jands is an independent Australian company founded in 1970 that distributes Shure products throughout Australia, including those under the Stem ecosystem banner.
The distributor has more than 100 employees spread across every Australian state, including a large support team of audio-visual professionals.
“Many audio-visual systems can be difficult to use and overly technical, requiring professional set-up and installation,” said Jands CEO & managing director, Phil Muffet.
“The Stem ecosystem simplifies much of this, enabling IT managers to rapidly build, customise and install these solutions.”
With the Stem ecosystem, businesses and organisations can keep the distributed workforce connected, helping team members remain engaged and productive, and deliver meeting equity — without costing businesses thousands in costs and hours in labour to deploy the audiovisual systems.