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How Collaborative Workspaces And A/V Integration Are Working Together

The trend toward collaborative workspaces isn’t going anywhere, making A/V integration more important than ever. This isn’t a new statement, as the technological revolution has long been a central point of discussion among business and tech leaders. It’s happening much faster, though, than most forecasters could have predicted, and the time is now for businesses to consider their transition to rapidly improving A/V solutions. Ideally, such solutions can be pieced together with the cooperation and assistance of the building’s design team, including its architects and interior designers. If collaboration is the watchword among A/V experts, then it is best exemplified by a collaborative approach between A/V integrators and building design teams. It takes this level of collaboration to ensure all equipment is installed seamlessly into the space and that the technology remains accessible and functional.

The Office of the Future – and Present

There’s a lot that suggests the ongoing marriage between form and function, architecture and A/V is here to stay. For example:
  1. Millennials will soon dominate the workforce – Time marches on, as they say, so it is only a matter of time before millennials are calling the shots in corporate culture. Already, millennials represent the largest generation in the workforce and will make up 75 percent of it by 2025, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With millions of millennials settling into daily professional life, it’s no surprise that technology has followed in their wake.Millennials love, respect and are naturals with technology, and with A/V technology most of all. Millennials want collaborative options like video conferencing and whiteboarding solutions, and will even prioritize their job selection based on this preference, according to a Virgin study. Remaining competitive in any industry means attracting the brightest, and the brightest will all soon come from the most tech-capable generation in the history of the world. Make sure they can employ those capabilities to their fullest.
  2. For many workers, the office is just an idea – The realities of a global economy and the drive to hire the best, no matter where they live, has cultivated a bumper crop of remote employees all over the country. Although most professionals still congregate in traditional offices, the Society of Human Resource Management has tracked a massive change in this area over the last 20 years. In 1996, only 20 percent of the organizations it surveyed allowed for telecommuting. The same survey in 2016 found that the rate had tripled.There’s no guarantee that remote work will stick for good, but with improving collaboration and conferencing technology, there’s little reason to think that telecommuting is coming to an end anytime soon. As such, businesses must invest in collaboration and conferencing solutions to keep their remote professionals united with the rest of the team.
  3. Rapid A/V technology iteration – All the millennials and remote employees in the world would mean nothing without the modern technology to match, so it’s a good thing that conferencing and collaborative solutions are much more sophisticated than they were just five to 10 years ago. So much improvement in this area also means aesthetic and form upgrades too, which means equipment like digital displays are easier than ever to integrate into a space.
This push toward a technologically-kitted out space has disproportionately involved video conferencing and collaboration solutions, as these are essential to team and project unity. This is where A/V integrators should start with building design teams, as conferencing and collaboration solutions will receive the heaviest use from professionals.

Designers and Integrators

Every build out comes with challenges, but some of them can be averted if there’s communication beforehand. This is important, because what works for an architect or designer may not work for an integrator. Usually, if there is sufficient planning before significant construction has begun, then design teams and integrators can come up with some usable compromises. Also, prior planning can help owners sidestep some frustrating issues down the road. For example:
  1. Marrying A/V connectivity with space aesthetics – This is probably the big one. Integrators are constantly faced with overcoming connectivity limitations produced by challenging room layouts and aesthetic choices. Building owners will likely be frustrated to hear that their luxurious, sophisticated spaces have to be marred by the obvious presence of A/V hardware and wiring. It’s a situation everyone wants to avoid, integrators included. Fortunately, it is something that can be avoided if the integrator and design team account for A/V connectivity beforehand. Hidden cabinet spaces and fully integrated technology are two approaches to this problem, and they yield excellent results. Microphones can be installed inside a conference table, for example, with wiring run down the table legs and into the floor. Not only does this preserve the look of the room, it will impress clients and customers.
  2. Preserving the architect’s vision – Once the A/V equipment is accounted for, architects and interior designers know where they can make flourishes and how they can organize each room for maximum functionality. Architects have to think about building security and infrastructure, both of which have a major impact on layout and design. Settling on placement locations for A/V technology reduces one piece of the guesswork that architects have to work around.
  3. Keep costs down – If no one talks before the build out, there is a risk that further construction or alterations will be required once an integrator is brought in to place equipment. This has an obvious effect on how everything looks, and it has an obvious effect on the building owner’s budget. Every hour spent altering the building’s structure is an hour of time and money.
Businesses are mining collaborative workspaces aggressively for better employee productivity, engagement and morale. It only makes sense, then, that this collaborative approach also be used during the building design process. Only by bringing together integrators and designers can building owners get the most out of their investment.