As stay-at-home orders are lifted across the New York area, including New York City and Staten Island, many office spaces face new requirements for social distancing. The 15-seat conference room may no longer be appropriate to hold Monday morning meetings. Some business owners may have to put employees on split shifts – or increase flexibility for remote working – to meet social distancing requirements in their existing space.
But today’s audio visual technology, from unified communications to smart office buildings, can help make the transition to the “new normal” New York area businesses face nearly seamless.
Consider these technologies that could help make your NYC office safer and healthier as we reopen New York.
Unified Communications (UC) Connects In-office and Remote Workers Seamlessly
Now that New York business owners have seen remote work in action, they know it can be done.
An April 3 Forbes article cited a Gartner survey finding that 75% of CFOs plan to move at least 5% of their workforce to a full-time, remote work schedule even after coronavirus restrictions are lifted in their state. Fewer – 4% of those polled – said they plan to leave 50% of their workers remote.
Remote work represents significant cost savings for businesses that may be struggling. An investment in UC technology that can help workers become more productive, whether they are on-site or in their home office, can yield significant dividends.
UC systems provide a platform for employees to transition from their mobile device to their home office or their in-office workstation. The flexibility inherent in these systems enable co-workers to communicate in the ways they are most comfortable, including
- video conferencing
Seamless collaboration comes through file- and document-sharing in real-time, so you don’t have to be in the same room with your colleagues to enjoy the benefits of creative brainstorming.
If you haven’t already embraced unified communications (UC) in your New York office, you’re missing out on a seamless, collaborative experience between your remote workers and your in-office team.
Revamped Conference Rooms Can Allow Better Visibility Even with Social Distancing
As much as UC will encourage and enable remote work to continue, there are times employees will need to gather in the office or even greet outside guests in the conference room.
Gatherings will need to be limited based on state regulations at the time, and the CDC still recommends six feet of space between individuals.
To get the whole team together, you may need to allow employees to join the meeting remotely via video conferencing – whether they are joining from home or from another location in your building.
Consider your conference room in this new reality. With chairs spaced apart, does everyone still have a clear view of the screen? If you have multiple people dialing into a video conference, can you see every face clearly?
If you try to display the faces of 20 conference participants on a 50-inch screen hanging on the wall, which people are viewing from 20 feet away, you’re not providing an immersive video conference experience.
Consider larger screens, and more screens, to meet line-of-sight challenges that may be created by social distancing and to display more remote participants in a way can keep everyone engaged.
For better visibility, work with an audiovisual integrator to choose the right projector for the job. If the projector doesn’t have enough power, the screen will look washed out – no matter where you’re sitting.
For bigger screens or rooms with high ambient light, you’ll need a higher power projector. You don’t necessarily want to darken a room to see a screen during a conference – people want to be able to read papers and see the faces of their colleagues as well as what’s on the screen.
As high-quality laser projectors drop in price, these projectors become a viable option for today’s businesses. Best of all, they are maintenance-free, with no bulbs to change, providing a touchless solution for today’s workplace.
Update Your Conference Room Audio System for More Engaging Remote Meetings
Of course, the screen and projector are often your first consideration when you’re updating your conference room video systems. After all, we call them “video conferences” for a reason.
But audio plays a crucial role in collaboration. If your current system doesn’t have enough power or the right audio processing, you may not have intelligible audio for your meetings. Placing a mic in the room and connecting it to a computer and a TV with integrated speakers or a soundbar intended for use in the home isn’t going to work as well as you might think.
You need a system with echo cancellation for a large conference room. Could you imagine creating a picture perfect presentation, but then your customer can’t hear a word you’re saying? Depending on the industry you work in, you could waste time, frustrate employees, and even lose a sale.
Voice-controlled Smart Building Systems for Window Shades, Thermostat, and AV Systems Help Prevent the Spread of Germs
On / off buttons, handheld remote controls, control system touchscreens and even thermostats and blinds represent “hot spots” for germs to collect. Studies as far back as 2010 – long before COVID-19 fears reared their heads – showed that countless germs live on surfaces like touch screens and can cause a variety of illnesses, including the novel coronavirus.
If you’ve been considering an investment in technology upgrades, think about a building-wide control system that allows voice of control of everything from your AV systems to your building’s shades and thermostat.
You can pair Amazon Alexa for Business with a Crestron control system to issue voice commands ranging from, “Alexa, tell Crestron to start my meeting,” to “Alexa, tell Crestron to turn on the AC.”
As a certified Crestron programmer, Dara AV can install and configure your systems to meet your company’s needs. And if Crestron isn’t the best system for your business, we can specify and customize a system that will work for you within your budget.
Wireless Connectivity in Common Spaces Can Create a Healthier, “Touchless” Environment
Even as people gather in safe, socially distant ways in your corporate boardroom, they still need to touch various cables and buttons to run the meeting. HDMI and USB cables to connect laptops to local AV outputs can become a haven for germs – and it may not always be practical for employees to remember to bring their own cables.
Wireless connectivity for every device through the network, coupled with voice command, means fewer hands touching fewer surfaces.
That can help reduce professional sanitization costs for disinfecting that may be required, and reduce stress for employees concerned about touching common surfaces.
Robust Networking Systems to Tie It All Together
These changes and upgrades share three things in common. They:
• Can help improve productivity
• Can help create a safer, healthier workspace
• Require increased bandwidth from your networking systems
Dara AV won’t leave you on your own to figure out the networking requirements for your new AV and control systems. We can help make sure your company’s systems can accommodate everything from increased video conferencing to building-wide Crestron control.
We will work with your in-house IT staff to ensure you have the bandwidth you need to create a workspace that works today and is worthy of the future.
Adopt a BYOD Policy for a Touch-free Environment
In addition to wireless networking systems, consider allowing employees to bring their own devices, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. A BYOD policy is a cost-effective way to ensure employees don’t have to touch devices that have been handled by others.
Call Dara AV to Help You Create a Safer, Healthier Workspace in New York
The Dara AV team has been working with New York, New Jersey, and Staten Island businesses for more than 15 years to meet your ever-evolving needs.
We’re here and ready to help you transition to a socially distant workplace while bringing you closer than ever to your remote workforce