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Making optimum use of videoconferences at your office

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In a study conducted by Polycom, 94% of those surveyed stated that videoconferencing boosted their productivity, and 87% said it speeded up the decision-making process. This goes to show how important videoconferencing has become in corporate culture. 
Using it at the office is pretty easy and relatively cheap, given the wide range of suppliers and its growing technological development. Nevertheless, here are some useful pointers for making the most of this technology: 

Using the right equipment
Although this obviously depends on the size of the room, the following factors are worth bearing in mind: 
  • 30 to 60-inch screens The quality depends on the complexity of videoconferencing. 
  • High-quality audio. 
  • High-definition cameras. 
  • Microphones with voice-detection technology. 
  • Videoconferencing furniture that can support screens of up to 50 inches and 40kgs in weight, 600x400 according to VESA standards. Wheel-borne supports are important for easy mobility. 
  • Flat-screen wall supports, in case you need to install extra screens on the walls. 
  • An oval-shaped meeting-room table with adaptors to plug in laptops, USB devices and video connections for information sharing. The size of the table naturally depends on the number of people physically attending the meeting. 
  • Height-adjustable ergonomic chairs without high backs (since they can obstruct the participants’ view). 

Using such furniture will provide you with top-notch videoconferencing facilities. The videoconferencing room should be decorated in line with your company’s branding and style, as long as this doesn’t interfere with the camera’s viewing angle. 

Furniture location
It’s important to make sure the main screen is at table height to give the impression that participants are all in the same room. 
Cameras should either be placed on the screens, or in the middle when they are stacked on top of each other. 
We recommend using ceiling microphones, since table mikes tend to pick up more environmental noises. If you’re just using one, it’s best to place it at the centre of the table. 

Lighting 
We recommend natural light in most collaborative spaces, since it’s known to raise productivity and to be healthier. When cameras are being used, however, bright light can make images excessively light or dark. That’s why it’s important to bear some additional considerations in mind:
  • Soft lighting in the videoconferencing resting area.
  • Avoid backlighting. 
  • Use neutral or light colours for your office walls. If they’re too dark, they can have a negative effect on lighting. 
In rooms with many windows it’s important to use blinds to tone down natural lighting, and dimmers or regulators for electric lights.

Acoustics
External noises can hamper communication and even more importantly, people’s concentration. That’s why it’s a good idea to choose a videoconferencing space with few windows and doors, preferably away from surroundings with a lot of people. It’s also worth considering whether doors, windows and walls should be soundproofed.

Air conditioning
A closed meeting room and the heat generated by computers and audiovisual equipment can lead to heat stress. You can avoid this by installing low-noise, remotely controlled air conditioners.

Technology and technical setup in the videoconferencing room
A variety of high-quality videoconferencing software designed for different needs and budgets is available on the market. On choosing one, you should make sure it’s compatible with the browsers and operating systems you use at the office.
It’s worth seeking expert technical advice on installing network systems, routers, call control, a transversal firewall, streaming, and audio and video data transfer. This helps to ensure stable communications and secure information sharing.

Video Wall
Video Walls are harder to set up than a conventional videoconferencing room, and also require commercial monitors, which provide optimum brightness, contrast, clarity, and colour definition.
It’s also important to have a Wall Controller -- a device that manages image processing to show images on one or several screens using analogue, digital or LAN signals.
Video Walls are ideal for visualising a single source or several at the same time, scaling them or positioning them as required. They also provide the possibility of sharing large amounts of information for real-time sharing.

As we’ve seen, using videoconferencing tools at work calls for a perfect balance between technology, furniture and architecture. Once you’ve struck that balance, you’ll have no problems holding videoconferencing meetings and putting the benefits of collaborative teamwork to full use.

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