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Can video tech ensure safety when staff return to the office?

Nigel Dunn, Managing Director, Jabra EMEA North

Teams are collaborating more. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen video collaboration become the norm. While it certainly has its challenges, people now expect professional video conferencing solutions to make global collaboration as easy and seamless as possible. Video is here to stay. With a large number of staff set to return to the office in the coming weeks and months, having the right technology in place to deliver exceptional user experience for video conferencing has never been more important. 

When it comes to AV solutions for the traditional office meeting room, facilities managers are often forced to choose between outstanding audio and high-definition video. Of course, there is also a new consideration. The solutions chosen should help employees follow safety protocols laid out by the new policies that will be introduced when staff return. Ensuring people social distance, don’t overcrowd meeting rooms, and use spaces responsibly will be hard to guarantee. What many facilities managers are crying out for is technology that addresses all these challenges; something which offers a plug and play solution, delivering the most immersive and engaging video experience available on the market today that also helps manage staff safety.

Insight driven behaviour 

Of course, safety has always been a concern of responsible facilities managers, but never has it been in the spotlight more than now. Implementing the right technology might just be the most efficient way to help facilities managers keep the office safe. 

New AV conferencing solutions like Jabra’s PanaCast 50 delivers an independent always-180° data stream which provides anonymous people count meta-data as real-time numerical information. The PanaCast 50’s unique 180° field-of-view achieves 100% coverage of a meeting room and provides the best opportunity to count everybody within that room in real time. This information is anonymous as the device simply counts people; it doesn’t “recognise them”, ensuring privacy of your staff. 

A feature like this enables the system to compare its head-count with a defined room capacity limit number to determine if the room is over such capacity. If the number of people exceeds this limit, the technology will provide visual and audio cues to the individuals present, enabling them to make good decisions for their safety and wellbeing. This means that anyone present in the room gets instant, real-time notifications when local and office guidelines are exceeded. By using this feature you can even get anonymous room occupancy data via email alerts to ensure local safety guidelines are being followed. This is clearly a major win for facilities managers as they can rest assured that they do not have to constantly “police” meeting room capacity across the entire building. 

Additionally, through the network interface, longer-term analytics data is available for IT administrators and office managers, enabling them to make data-driven decisions about how they’re utilising their meeting spaces. In our new world, facilities managers must have an overview of how many rooms are being used, even when there is no active meeting, to help them inform decisions on office space and staff safety going forward. 

Improving the office experience 

Clearly, the role and challenges of facilities managers have changed since the start of the pandemic. As discussed, ensuring the safety of staff is now a key concern for facilities managers across the country ahead of the return of workers. But, some of the challenges remain the same, such as optimising the use of all office space, improving the office experience for workers and selecting, and maintaining the best technology possible for staff. People have managed at home. To get people wanting to return to the office, a strong case must be made. Technology is one such example where staff may get a better experience when in the office. 

New-normal-ready intelligent technology should be at the forefront of facilities managers’ minds. One of the big issues people have found with video conferencing at home is that the sound and video quality is often very poor. Even before the work from home revolution, poor audio and video in conference rooms affected the quality and productivity of meetings. Staff need a solution that combines the best of all worlds, with industry-leading professional audio and innovative 180° video, to solve all of their meeting communication issues. By implementing a solution that is superior to working from home, the office and covid-safe meeting rooms will become the location of choice for video conferencing. 

Additionally, technology should make facilities managers’ lives better. It is easy to assume that cutting edge tech might not be user friendly and will lead to multiple maintenance and IT issues. Cast your mind back to 2019… How much time did you spend on issues with meeting room hardware? New-normal-ready intelligent video bar solutions should be plug and play and once installed, it must be even easier to maintain.

Innovation in 2021

The new normal requires new technology. In a world where we’re more physically separated than ever, facilities managers play a huge role in helping businesses achieve great audio and great video for meetings in the office. But, perhaps more importantly, facilities managers need to find smart ways of making offices and collaboration spaces safer for everyone who uses them. By deploying new normal ready tech in covid-safe offices, facilities managers will help people safely collaborate both in person and remotely, sooner rather than later.

Jabra PanaCast 50: Available from 15th June 2021 in Black and Grey.

Find out more at https://www.jabra.com/panacast50

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