Research from The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) about the impact of the pandemic on the workplace found that in-person and virtual meetings increased by 12.9% per person post-pandemic and the length of the workday also increased by 8.2% (or about 49 minutes per workday).
Has the increased number of meetings post-pandemic boosted overall employee/team productivity? Zippia’s meeting statistics for 2023 reveal that 65% of employees say frequent meetings stop them from focusing on and completing their work tasks. Even worse, roughly 71% of senior managers deem meetings unproductive.
So Houston, we have a problem with meetings.
Despite their potential pitfalls, meetings are absolutely essential for supporting connection, communication, and collaboration (the 3 Cs), as well as for enabling innovation, team productivity, and employee engagement/retention. People want to connect and to meet – the vast majority of people, 73% in fact, want to come into the office when they know their colleagues are going to be there. But the problem is that meetings too often aren’t achieving their goals, for numerous reasons.
A Costly Failure to Connect
When most meetings are hybrid (as they are today), with some attendees sitting in the office and others connecting from home, a failure to connect digitally can diminish meeting productivity. Hybrid meetings cannot be effective unless the technology tools that enable connection are reliable and secure.
People’s productivity and work suffer, and ultimately the company's bottom line suffers when:
- The tech in the office doesn't support the everyday tasks of employees,
- People working (and calling in) from home can't connect via audio and video conferencing, and
- Teams in the office face challenges finding and booking a place to meet.
Research says that at least a couple of meetings per week will likely be disrupted by technology issues. Data won't appear on displays, teleconference connections will falter or fail, a projector is broken, and bad audio and video will make remote participants hard to see and hear. The average time spent fixing these problems: 31.5 minutes. For a company with 250 employees, the yearly cost of this tech-related inefficiency is roughly $250,000.
Meeting space equipment failures are as frustrating as they are costly. Eventually, conference space utilization plummets because people don't trust that the technology will work the way they need it to and they'll start meeting in other ways and in different places. In an open office where noise distraction is a top complaint, unreliable conference room technology can be detrimental to concentration. If everyone starts taking conference calls out in the open, you can just imagine how loud the office becomes. There are ways to minimize these types of conference room equipment snafus.
This conference room equipment list below is meant to keep your company on track to maintain meeting productivity with the right collaboration tools.
Checklist to avoid conference room equipment hassles
(✓) Be prepared and have backup plans.
No conference room equipment setup is foolproof. To make sure your meetings are productive, you’ll need to set up early with backup plans ready. There are some preventive steps you can take while setting up the tech in your office’s conference rooms.
(✓) Invest in the conference room technology your employees actually need.
Come up with a conference room equipment survey to distribute to the company to understand what technology employees need in order to get their work done and what workplace productivity issues they currently experience, using questions like:
- What type of technology are must-haves in your meetings?
- What type of tech are nice-to-haves in your meetings?
- How easy is it for you to book a conference room, either in advance or on the spot?
- Is there a need for meeting room displays to make wayfinding and check-in easier?
- How often do you run into double booked meetings?
- Do you run into issues with the audio and video conferencing technology?
- Do you think there are enough meeting rooms?
- Does the conference room technology and amenities match the meetings you’re trying to have?
(✓) Choose a standard for technology across every conference room.
Every conference room in your office should be accessible to every employee. Pick a standard across conference room scheduling software, conference room displays, audio and video conferencing equipment, and wiring. This also prevents constant change management and confusion across employees.
With the increased popularity of hybrid work, it's important to make sure each conference room is equipped to handle telecommunication. The Meeting Owl — a rotating video camera that moves based on whoever is speaking in a meeting — is a great option to invest in to make your conference rooms remote/hybrid-friendly.
(✓) Ensure the process to connect personal devices is simple and quick.
When employees need to connect using their own devices, the potential for problems multiplies. Time is lost when people spend the first several minutes of the meeting trying to find the right cables, adaptors, and WiFi network.
(✓) Invest in conference room scheduling software that provides insights into how meeting rooms are utilized.
In addition to enabling employees to easily schedule and check into meetings, room scheduling software has another massive benefit: it provides your leadership team with workplace analytics about how office space is actually being used, identifying blindspots and areas for improvement. With these actionable insights, your company can answer questions like:
- Does your office have enough meeting space?
- When is the office busiest with meetings?
- Are conference rooms and the events happening inside of them well matched?
- Which spaces in the office are most popular? Which are not being sufficiently utilized?
Using this information, companies get a better understanding of what conference room essentials (equipment and amenities) work well in the office and can provide them in more places.
(✓) Come up with a company conference room reservation policy.
Customize a conference room reservation policy that includes how to use the technology in each meeting room, along with how to schedule spaces using either the company calendar or a reliable scheduling software tool. Some tips below:
- Post your network name and password in the room on a conference room scheduling display where people can see it easily. Attendees can log in as soon as they enter the room. Remember to keep it updated.
- If you’re using Robin, you can add logins to room details and people can find the information anytime.
- You could also send an email with the login credentials shortly before the meeting
Troubleshooting remote connection problems
As much as we enjoy a bit of conference call humor, like this Tripp and Tyler video, having these problems while the meeting’s underway is another story.
Part way into your meeting, your video freezes. Your audio is faint, echoes, or drops off entirely. People in the meeting room talk over those who are remote, and vice versa. Screen sharing stops working when there’s a switch in presenters. The list goes on. Some tips to combat these issues below:
- Invest in a meeting room scheduling system that allows people to report issues to IT with technology directly on the meeting room display.
- Take a few minutes to do a test run with one or two meeting attendees ahead of time. If your company consists of remote workers, be sure to include one in your test. If possible, try connecting with a remote person outside of your organization as well.
- Have a backup video conferencing platform cued up and ready to go. Have people create logins on this platform prior to the meeting. That way, everyone is prepared to flip the switch if your primary platform fails.
- Does equipment change rooms in your office? If you’re using Google Apps, you can set up room resource calendars to keep tabs on your meeting room equipment locations. You can share those calendars with people outside your organization with these easy steps.
- Incorporate TVs on rolling carts in your office design so that employees who need to hop on a call last minute can do that even in a room without a TV setup.
What to do when devices won’t connect to the conference room TV
Your slides are ready to roll, but they don’t appear on the conference room TV. Or maybe your video is showing up, but there’s no sound. Some helpful tips:
- Before booking conference rooms, employees should check under amenities that the office’s WiFi is strong in that location. If the meeting room isn’t wireless, it’s important to begin the meeting with the right mix of cables and adapters.
- If a connectivity issue arises during an audio or video conference call, employees shouldn’t panic. Sometimes it’s a larger issue only IT can solve, other times it’s as simple as making sure the audio and video equipment options are actually on depending on which conferencing integrations your company uses (i.e. BlueJeans, Google Meet, Chorus).
- Invest in meeting room tables with outlets and connection boxes already installed, or provide pop-up ones for simple connections without stringing cables across the table or floor. Wire management boxes can be attached under a table, or run vertically alongside the table leg.
- If cords need to run underfoot, use a simple cable cover that sits on the floor. Whatever you choose, by all means, avoid someone tripping on a cord and spilling their coffee on another person’s laptop.
- Do employees know if the room they scheduled has a TV? A whiteboard? A Chromecast? It helps to know exactly what equipment is in a room before scheduling a meeting. You might create a shared document that lists room resources for each conference room. Your meeting room software can help, too. For example, Robin users can list what’s in a room in the details tab.
- If someone’s connecting to an Apple TV, Chromecast, or other mirroring device, the connecting device must be compatible. Make sure people confirm they have a match before the meeting starts.
Reliable conference room tech makes meetings run smoothly
Conference room equipment should never take center stage in meetings. In fact, they should run so smoothly that employees shouldn’t even realize how much work goes into setup.The most effective conference room equipment works simply, silently, and powerfully. With reliable conference room technology and the right video conferencing solution, meetings run much more smoothly, making peoples’ lives easier and preventing hiccups down the road.
List of Conference Room Essentials
This list below includes the all the necessary equipment, technology and amenities you’ll need for effective meetings:
1. Conference table and chairs: to accommodate the number of people who will be attending meetings.
2. Projector and screen: essential for displaying presentations and other visual aids to attendees.
3. Whiteboard or flipchart: for brainstorming and taking notes during meetings.
4. Conference phone: essential for remote attendees to participate in meetings.
5. Video conferencing equipment: A camera, microphone, and speaker system with high quality audio for video conferencing with remote participants.
6. Conference room scheduling display: so attendees know they’re in the right place and have relevant information about the meeting, bonus points if you have an interactive touch screen solution.
7. Wi-Fi connectivity: for accessing online resources during meetings.
8. Power outlets and charging stations: for laptops, phones, and other devices to keep everyone connected and charged.
9. Lighting: essential for clear visibility and maintaining a professional atmosphere.
10. Air conditioning and ventilation: to keep the room comfortable and focused during meetings.
11. Water dispenser, coffee machine, and/or snacks: to keep attendees comfortable and focused during long meetings.
12. Soundproofing: to minimize distractions from outside noise and ensure privacy during sensitive discussions.
Better Meeting Room Management Starts with Robin
Now that you have an idea of what equipment you need for your conference room, it's time to consider how to better manage your meeting room bookings. That's where Robin comes in. Our industry-leading room scheduling software helps eliminate friction and increase visibility around available resources in your office.
Ready to learn more? Let's chat!