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Digital transformation is affecting all forms of workspaces and environments. Even the very notion of an office is being reexamined as businesses prepare for life after the COVID-19 pandemic by adopting the hybrid work model. Cubicles are giving way to open spaces, and private offices seem to be going against the grain.
Meeting spaces are going through a similar shift as hybrid work takes hold. In pre-digital times, traditional meeting rooms were built to serve those in the room, with layouts and equipment -- like whiteboards -- meant to foster in-person collaboration. Most everyone who needed to attend a meeting was in the office, and the few who were remote could call in and participate over the speakerphone.
These rooms have evolved considerably with technological change, and with that, audiovisual (AV) teams can now provide a richer experience for in-person and virtual attendees.
Today's distributed model of working means that AV teams must deliver a meeting experience that feels like an in-person meeting. Not only must remote workers feel like they are part of the team, but the activities inside the hybrid meeting room must be accessible to remote participants.
Hybrid meeting challenges based on room size
For larger meeting spaces, this means AV must provide capabilities that support participants, whether far away or close to the front, where the leader is speaking. Remote participants won't have a good experience if some people loom larger on camera than those seated further away or if they cannot hear people at the back of the room. Having a fixed video camera that cannot zoom or pan no longer suffices, and the same applies to using analog-era audio technology.
Smaller, tighter meeting spaces on the other end of the room spectrum pose different AV challenges. First is providing intelligible audio when several people in close proximity are speaking at the same time. This is a good example of how AI-based speech recognition technology makes small-scale meetings better. Speech recognition not only accurately identifies each speaker, but provides real-time transcription so remote participants can track who is saying what.
Video is the second challenge, namely capturing all the in-room speakers in one image. Earlier-generation video cameras lack capabilities like wide angle or panorama view that can compensate for tight spaces, making it difficult for remote participants to follow along and feel engaged.
Regardless of the hybrid meeting room size, AV teams must consider a broader audience to properly support collaboration. With hybrid work, participants are more likely to not be in the meeting room. For this new work model to be effective, they need a better remote experience than what they've had in the past.
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