The conference room is an integral component of modern work and critical to seamless workplace operations and strong organizational culture. Even in today’s increasingly hybrid-work world, the modern-day conference room remains a focal point for employee activity. For onsite employees, it remains the fulcrum of the regular staff meeting, emergency meeting, training session, and holiday party. And for those with decentralized workforces, wired conference rooms remain the focal point of hybrid meetings. Even as many companies with hybrid workforces consider or pursue plans to downsize their office footprint, those plans typically preserve a central meeting space.
To maximize the use of the conference room, a company must have adequate space for probable common usage and an appropriate audiovisual (AV) setup. During the pandemic, most employers either retrofitted or replaced obsolete legacy AV systems or installed new ones to ensure they could communicate virtually with employees. However, despite this flurry of activity, knowledge gaps, speed, cost, and other factors, left many with AV setups that are only partially seamless. An in-house AV professional, IT generalist, or operations point person will likely share that their in-house system could be improved in one or more of the following ways.
AV Setup Could Be Quicker and More Efficient
In-house AV staff know that AV consists of far more than the video conference monitor used for hybrid meetings. There are wireless mics, speakers, lighting equipment, cables, and more to consider. Different events will require different combinations of these devices and equipment.
Depending on the event, in-house AV staff may have ample time to properly set up equipment and test it to ensure video and audio output will fit the requirements. Or they will have just a matter of minutes. In those cases, they must be able to quickly pull every necessary device out, connect the cables from devices to ports, and keep them out of the way. Many experienced AV staff have needed to dash to an electronics store for a last-minute cable or adaptor purchase because the correct one was lost or the newest piece of equipment purchased was incompatible with the ports in the room.
Setup Should Be Safer
Tripping hazards are no laughing matter. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) expressly prohibits employers from creating tripping hazards (1926.416(b)(2). Moreover, OSHA prohibits employers from making the risk of electric shocks through ungrounded or uninsulated wirings. Regarding connectivity, there are further prohibitions against cabling equipment in a haphazard fashion. A business cannot, for example, affix extension cords with staples, especially when raised flooring systems and other safety measures are available.
AV Capabilities Must Be More Versatile
The last thing anyone wants to hear after shelling out tens of thousands or more for AV equipment is that they need more equipment for an upcoming event. However, it happens frequently. Sometimes, it stems from a generalist needing to know what to buy to account for likely future organizational needs. Or it may arise from budgetary constraints, with a business purchasing substandard equipment cheaply.
With new technologies and applications like AV-as-a-Service (AVaaS) coming online, some businesses still need to build the appropriate infrastructure to take advantage of them. Others need to pay more attention to the continued requests from staffers to replace aging legacy systems that require extensive last-minute workarounds for minimal functionality. These scenarios may lead business leaders to falsely believe they are well-equipped for modern communication when they are not.
Cable Management Should Be Prioritized
Sometimes the shape and layout of the room are at odds with what AV professionals need to set up the equipment to get the desired output. For example, a CEO who insists on a circular table layout with mics at each table may find that perfect audio takes a bit more time to set up than they bargained for.
While aesthetics and guest engagement are essential, how AV devices are connected and powered safely must drive room layout conversations. Not only must OSHA guidelines be adhered to. However, AV professionals must cable the room per the National Electric Code (NEC). Also, following the standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA), and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) will maximize efficiency and minimize risk.
These guidelines are a good start, but each space and event differs. AV professionals must separate electric and telecommunications cables to minimize signal interference, keep cables clear of air ducts, and avoid creating tripping hazards. Raised flooring is a common and commonsense approach that can help AV professionals adhere to technical requirements and safety standards while maintaining the aesthetic appeal of a room.
Connections Must Be Easy
Stretching and using multiple extension cords to connect and power devices may appear visually cluttered and violate relevant codes and regulations. Moreover, it may create significant safety violations, which, in some cases, could result in regulatory actions and lawsuits. That is why more companies are using raised flooring solutions like Gridd® Adaptive Cabling Distribution® System. Gridd offers AV professionals cable space and organization, quick setups, and easy connection points. This solution can ensure a business has all the necessary connectivity and power without the hassle of disorganized layouts.
Capacity Planning Should Accommodate Potential Reconfigurations
Of course, IT and AV needs down the line can take time to predict regarding future capacity planning. Some AV professionals have had to reconfigure entire installations a month or two after completion because of changing IT and business needs. Because business needs change rapidly, AV professionals need considerable flexibility, which is why flexible space planning is increasingly popular. Raised flooring should be incorporated into any flexible space planning efforts to give IT and AV professionals the resources they need to equip each room properly.
Equipping Your Conference Room and Other Spaces Properly
Whether a business needs the right equipment to host a training session in a conference room or set up an impromptu karaoke session in the break room, it is vital to have the right AV equipment and devices and the right cable management solutions as well. The Gridd® low-profile raised floor is ideal to ensure businesses have the AV cabling resources they need that prioritize connectivity, safety, and aesthetics.