On any given day, an estimated 11 million business meetings take place. These meetings eat up 37 percent of the average employee's working hours. So, odds are, you're reading this right before your next meeting or right after your last one. According to Doodle's 2019 State of meetings report , the cost of poorly organized meetings in 2019 will reach $399 billion in the U.S. and $58 billion in the U.K. As a result, people don't have enough time to finish their work.
In the modern workforce, with companies now supporting remote employees along with essential in-office staff, conference room equipment needs to be reliable and secure. If the tech on campus doesn't support the everyday tasks of employees, folks in different places can't connect via audio and video conferencing, or people within the office have no physical place to meet, their productivity and work is impacted, ultimately affecting the company's bottom line.This conference room equipment checklist is meant to keep your company on track to maintain a healthy and productive workplace environment.
When conference room equipment and resources get in the way
Research suggests at least two meetings in an average mid-level manager's 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 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 issues, though. Here's what we recommend.
Checklist to avoid conference room equipment hassles
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, not just what search results say or Office Snapshots shows.
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 run into 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?
- 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 , room displays, audio and video conferencing, and wiring. This also prevents constant change management and confusion across employees.
With the increased popularity of remote working, 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-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.
Allowing employees to schedule and check into meetings using scheduling software surfaces up meeting room analytics and insights about how office space is actually being used, along with blindspots and areas of improvement. With these 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 lack utilization?
Using this information, companies get a better understanding of what conference room equipment and amenities work well in the office and provide those 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:
- Here’s a great solution from PC Magazine: post your network name and password in the room 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
What to do when remote connections are dicey
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 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 below:
- 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 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 folks 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, meeting run much more smoothly, making peoples’ lives easier and prevent hiccups down the road.