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The Enhanced Role of Displays in the Workplace and Higher Ed Campus

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

As the workforce returns to the office, AV/IT managers, technology decision-makers, and consultants are revamping the workplace and higher ed campus to enhance collaboration, communication, and engagement in the new era of hybrid. Simply adding more of anything is not a solution, but careful planning to understand the need and how people want to work and learn is critical to future success.

Wednesday, August 25 at 2:00 p.m. ET, AV Technology is hosting a webcast with six industry experts to discuss trends they are seeing and how the Enhanced Role of Displays will play an essential role in the new hybrid workforce and campus. Please join us—register here! (opens in new tab)

 Two of our panelists shared their insight ahead of the live event. 

People First

With the expectation that there will be a greater percentage of hybrid workers than in 2019 returning to the offices at financial technology company Square, senior AV systems engineer Laura Talon is designing spaces that work for the individual. "Our workforce includes folks who are thrilled to return to the office, others who prefer to continue working from home, and a significant percentage who want to split their time between the office and home," she said. "We're building to accommodate everyone on that spectrum as much as possible."

Laura Talon, senior AV systems engineer at Square

Laura Talon, senior AV systems engineer at Square (Image credit: Square)

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As workforce needs evolve, meeting and collaboration spaces will be redesigned. "Traditional conference room meeting spaces will start to dwindle," said Jonathan Owens, a senior consultant at Shen Milsom & Wilke LLC. "We will instead see smaller meeting rooms that are equipped with web conferencing capabilities, and we may move from having a single large conference room to a few smaller huddle rooms."

A Trend Toward Purpose-built

While some AV/IT managers are ordering more displays to enable videoconferencing in every room, others focus on multi-use displays. "We're not seeing more displays, but we definitely see different kinds of displays," Talon said. "We're testing several interactive models that will allow users to work with a number of different collaborative tools in the room while still having the freedom to use the displays for videoconferencing when necessary," added Talon.

Owens agrees, "We are not necessarily seeing the need for more displays, but a paradigm shift of what the technology is, and how it interfaces with remote learning systems. This can include shifting from projection to touch interactive displays, or better integrating video feeds into the lecture capture systems."

Jonathan Owens, a senior consultant at Shen Milsom & Wilke LLC

Jonathan Owens, a senior consultant at Shen Milsom & Wilke LLC (Image credit: Shen Milsom & Wilke LLC)

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Owens said that projection technologies hold firm in lecture halls and traditional classrooms on the higher education campus. "However, in labs, active learning, and other non-traditional spaces, we see a shift to LCD technology," he added. "Universities also are trending towards LED video walls for larger gathering spaces." On the corporate side, Owens is seeing a trend toward larger LCD technology used in meeting rooms, and LED walls being used in larger boardrooms and lobbies."

Enhancing the Experience 

Owens emphasizes that display solutions need to be more immersive and capture interactive content to engage in-office and remote participants.

Talon and her team have an idea of how workflows will change, "and new displays definitely play a significant role in these ideas," she said. "We'll continue to make improvements and enhancements to our AV systems over the next year as we get a chance to see how people are using the office in this new environment." Currently, Talon is testing several interactive displays to discover new ways to improve the conference room and digital whiteboarding experience. "There is a big focus on interactivity and creating a space where users can be productive and innovative with their teammates locally and remotely rather than just having meetings."

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Audio Matters

We've all learned during the past 18 months that if you can't hear participants on a videoconference call—it's a big failure. "With hybrid spaces we need to take into account audio coverage for participants and not just the primary speaker or teacher," Owens said. "It's important that remote participants be able to hear everyone in the room clearly. The type of microphones, placement, processing and room acoustics all play a vital role in making sure the experience for the remote participant is beneficial."

At Square, high-quality audio that allows users in different locations to communicate as clearly is a priority. Talon and her team have been testing various audio technologies. "We've tested in-wall speaker and low-profile beamforming speaker/mic solutions that not only perform beautifully but also allow us to design rooms that feel more like a living room than a conference room," she said. "We feel that when a collaboration space is less formal and more comfortable, a lot of users are able to create and focus in this more relaxed environment."

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Integrated IoT Delivers Actionable Results

Talon is exploring IoT features that will help automate certain features within the space. "For instance, we tested a Samsung Frame display with an IoT room sensor, so the act of closing the door of the room switched the display from art mode to conference mode," she said. "We're discussing different uses of these sensors, including room usage metrics, temperature control, and lighting and shade control. We're excited about the idea of automating the office experience in thoughtful ways that allow our employees to focus on what they do best rather than details that can be addressed with technology."

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Wednesday, August 25 at 2:00 p.m. ET, AV Technology is hosting a webcast with six industry experts to discuss trends they are seeing and how the Enhanced Role of Displays will play an essential role in the new hybrid workforce and campus. Please join us—register here! (opens in new tab)

Cindy Davis
Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis is the brand and content director of AV Technology. Davis enjoys exploring the ethos of experiential spaces as well as diving deep into the complex topics that shape the AV/IT industry. In 2012, the TechDecisions brand of content sites she developed for EH Publishing was named one of “10 Great Business Media Websites” by B2B Media Business magazine. For more than 20 years, Davis has developed and delivered multiplatform content for AV/IT B2B and consumer electronics B2C publications, associations, and companies. From 2000 to 2008, Davis was the publisher and editor-in-chief of Electronic House. From 2009 to present, as the principal of CustomMedia.Co, Davis developed content plans and delivered content for associations such as IEEE Standards Association and AVIXA, content marketing for Future Plc, and numerous AV/IT companies. Davis was a critical member of the AVT editorial team when the title won the “Best Media Brand” laurel in the 2018 SIIA Jesse H. Neal Awards. A lifelong New Englander, Davis makes time for coastal hikes with her husband, Gary, and their Vizsla rescue, Dixie, sailing on one of Gloucester’s great schooners, and sampling local IPAs.