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Managing the Impact of Coronavirus in the Workplace

Managing the Impact of Coronavirus in the Workplace

Coronavirus is big news. But for most people, it’s more likely to be affecting your working life than your health. We look at managing the impact of coronavirus in the workplace.

Coronavirus in the UK is so far affecting our working lives more than it’s affecting our health. With, so far, only a small number of reported cases in proportion to our population of 67 million people, the chances that you know someone who has been infected is low. But by comparison, a huge number of people have experienced disruption to their working lives because of it.

From cancelled business travel, through to self-isolation of people who have been in high-risk areas, and now to quarantine of people who simply show standard cold and flu symptoms, the impact to working life is far reaching.

As a secondary impact, the closure of schools and other childcare providers, means increasing numbers of working parents are struggling to make it into work.And this could be just the start. The Government anticipate that due to the highly contagious nature of this virus, we could have as many as 20% of the workforce off work at its peak.  It now falls to businesses to minimise this disruption. And it’s interesting to note that while Coronavirus has wiped millions of pounds from the UK stock market, one business has experienced a boost: Zoom video conferencing.

Yes video conferencing is racing into this battle with a shiny coat of armour and a promise to maintain as much ‘business as normal’ as possible for the thousands of people who will be working from home while we ride out this storm. These are our tips for making it work for you:

Keep People Working

As a business, your priority is to keep people working. Whilst ensuring the health and safety of your workers. So enabling working from home is the first priority. Once you’ve enabled access, login and file access, the next big thing is communication. And there is no better way to communicate than being face-to-face. Or in this case, video communication.

We like the FREE StarLeaf app which provides video calling, chat and screen sharing across any device, wherever you are, to one or many people. It’s simple to use. And it’s free. So people can just download and start using, without letting the threat of coronavirus hold anyone back. Just download it here.

Managing the Impact of Coronavirus in the Workplace
Microsoft Teams

If you subscribe to Office 365 you already have a brilliant tool for remote (or office) collaboration: Microsoft Teams. Use this platform to collaborate via instant messaging, share files and to make video calls. It’s really simple, and makes great use of the tools you already have. Don’t forget you can combine Teams with additional hardware like cameras, speakers and displays to improve the quality of your video communication. Consider a full room system from Logitech or a meeting room solution from StarLeaf.

Managing the Impact of Coronavirus in the Workplace
Try Tools You Know

If you don’t have Office 365, there are other free video calling platforms you can use. Some people might feel more comfortable starting with platforms that they are already familiar with, like Skype or Facetime. But bear in mind, these tools have limited functionality for business use. They may provide you with that first stepping stone to get people into the ‘video-mindset’ in the workplace though. Just being able to see each other will help to improve communication through the ability to read body language, facial expressions and ensuring people are paying attention on a call (and not writing emails or doodling in the background!)

Managing the Impact of Coronavirus in the Workplace

Alternatively, if you’re happy to try something new like the StarLeaf app, you can help people to feel more confident on a video call with these tips!

Be prepared

Your first priority when managing the impact of coronavirus in the workplace is to keep people working. But in the medium to longer term you may want to consider how you can get the most from the video conferencing tools you’ve been using. Both during the outbreak and afterwards.  It might be about providing better webcams for home workers or setting up meeting rooms that can fully accommodate video meetings. Choose either flexible or permanent solutions for audio and visual to enable more professional meetings where everyone can be seen and heard.

Managing the Impact of Coronavirus in the Workplace
Workplace Changes After Coronavirus

In a study last year, Gartner suggests that by 2024 60% of meetings will take place via video – as opposed to just 25% now. It is likely the impact of coronavirus on the workplace will encourage this growth to accelerate. As people are pushed into using video for communication and meetings, the benefits will become more widely appreciated. And the concerns that have held people back will become irrelevant. Importantly, those workers who may have been told previously that they cannot work from home before, will be able to demonstrate that it is possible. And demand increased opportunities for remote working than has previously been possible.

Managing the Impact of Coronavirus in the Workplace

Like everyone, we hope that Coronavirus disappears as quickly as it appeared. But the legacy of its impact will remain with businesses for decades. Just like the SARS outbreak of 2003/4, it will make businesses reconsider their continuity planning. And if remote working and utilising video communication are not yet part of that strategy, they soon will be.

So get ahead of the curve. Assess your tools. And your people. And work out what action you need to take to ensure it’s ‘business as usual’, whatever the coronavirus or future challenges throw at you.

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The PaperLess Office: Cost-cutting reality or paper-dreams?

paperless office

Looking to go PaperLess? Technical Director and digital fan, Richard Vine looks at what’s holding people back:

People have been talking about the paperless office for decades. It reduces waste, saves money and boosts security. As we enter a new decade, with environmental concerns, an eye (always) on the bottom line and cloud-based technology more accessible than ever before, we ask is this the decade that going paper-free becomes a reality, or are we stuck to paper like glue?

Being PaperLess

It’s fair to say I’m technology evangelist. I’ve been ‘paper-free’ since 2007, relying on technology to create, save, share and deliver whatever information others use paper for. But before my bias clouds your judgement of this blog, I should also say that as Technical Director of TecInteractive, I work with businesses across the country who aren’t paper-free.  From Government bodies to SME’s to international corporations. And whilst there are often instances where I question their use of paper, I also understand why in many instances it’s just not possible to have a paperless office. Yet.

The PaperLess Office: Cost-cutting reality or paper-dreams?
The Reality of a PaperLess Office

The reality is that the technology is there. But it’s not always as simple and easy-to-use as picking up a paper and pen. People will naturally gravitate to the simplest solution. And paper is such an ingrained commodity in our lives. The change process from paper to digital on a company wide-scale is often too daunting to undertake. Even our youngest employees didn’t grow up with a tablet in their hands – paper is still the primary medium that we are used to dealing with – and often the easiest.

But that doesn’t mean that people don’t LIKE the idea of going paper-free.

The PaperLess Office: Cost-cutting reality or paper-dreams?
Statistics on Paper Use in Offices

Did you know that:

  • the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year – and this is growing
  • 45% of printed sheets are in the bin by the end of the day
  • Much of this does NOT get recycled and ends up in landfill
  • 40% of a worker’s time can be spent looking for paper files
  • 20% of print jobs are never retrieved from the printer, posing a security risk for sensitive data
  • 10% of IT staff time is spent managing printers
  • 80% of businesses WANT to reduce paper
  • Commitment to environmental management can help to win new business (90% of organisations seek ISO 14001 in order to win new business)
  • Adherence to ISO 14001 can help organisations to mitigate and adapt to climate change
A Balance of PaperLess and Digital in the Workplace

So it’s all about finding a compromise: Finding the paper-free solutions that will save you time, help you work more efficiently WHILST saving money and reducing the impact on the environment. But for that to happen, the solutions MUST be easy to use. We can’t deck out our offices with hi-tec gadgets that are unreliable, or that people don’t understand or can’t use.

The PaperLess Office: Cost-cutting reality or paper-dreams?
Intuitive Solutions

A good example of this is interactive digital displays. They’re so easy to use that children as young as 3 can use them.  These touch-screen, giant tablets provide you with a digital flipchart to write notes in a brainstorm meeting. You can access files and programs like you would from your desktop. And then save them. And then access them again when you’re back at your desk. There’s no typing up notes or taking dozens of photocopies of your brainstorm notes to share amongst colleagues. And notes can be saved and shared securely without the risk of sensitive data being seen by others or being left on the photocopier. Here, the paper-free solution doesn’t just replace a paper process. It makes it better and more efficient.

The PaperLess Office: Cost-cutting reality or paper-dreams?

Using a digital interactive display, people could also dial into the same brainstorm meeting and view the ‘digital flipchart’ from their device remotely, making their own notes on the digital screen. It’s a great example of how going paper-less can boost collaboration and save time (rather than missing a meeting or travelling back for a meeting when you’re not in the office). But with dozens of interactive displays on the market, it’s choosing the ones that are most user friendly and easy to use that will really encourage people to abandon their flipcharts and go digital.

Simple, Paper-free Solutions

There are hundreds of examples that we could look at. But the message is always the same. Choosing simple, paper-free solutions should make your lives easier. Not necessarily create a war of change that no-one is ready for. With this outlook, perhaps your goal for 2020 is to be a less-paper office rather than paperless office? Whatever your ambitions for reducing paper in your business, it’s the technology solutions that will make them a reality. So, whilst I’m optimistic that the paper-free office is a future reality, for anyone who isn’t quite ready, we’re here to help you find the solutions that will set you on the right path.

The PaperLess Office: Cost-cutting reality or paper-dreams?

Contact us to arrange a chat with one of our solution consultants today:

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The Right Technology For Agile Working

technology for agile working

Technology enables agile working – but getting it wrong can slow people down. We look at choosing the right technology for agile working environments:

Agile working is the means of being able to work anywhere. At home, in a café, on a bean bag in the office, or indeed at an office desk. Anywhere. And it’s technology that allows us to do that. It’s all about having the freedom and flexibility to choose where you work. But getting technology right in an agile working environment isn’t simply about giving people a wi-fi password and a laptop. Too often businesses choose to adopt agile working without giving enough consideration to what they really need.  So what technology is the right technology for agile working?

The first thing to be clear on, is what does ‘agile’ truly mean? ‘Agility’ is the ability to move quickly and easily. So, an agile working environment should allow workers to move from one place of work to another, quickly and easily. Whether it’s a meeting room, a breakout area or your home living room. But this is often where technology for agile working falls short. People are held back by fiddly wires, unreliable connections and frustrating ‘computer says no’ scenarios.

Getting technology right in an agile working environment is about choosing the right solutions that give people the flexibility to work anywhere. Not giving them a tech-headache because things don’t work as efficiently as they should. As with most technology decisions, simplicity is the key.  Here are a few ideas:

Technology for Agile Working

The Right Technology For Agile Working

From Agile Space to Personal Desk

Often businesses that promote agile working use hot-desking or hoteling as a cost-effective way to make the most of their space. But trying to hunt down a vacant space can really slow you down. Try using a simple, easy to use booking system like GoBright. A simple colour coding system makes it easy to see and book available desks either online or in person. It will hold your seat if you have to go away or release desks where someone hasn’t shown up. And once you’re logged in via your smartphone or personal NFC-card, the sit or stand desk can automatically adjust to your personal preferences.

The Right Technology For Agile Working

Plug and Play

Agile working often leads to activity based workplaces – offices that are designed to accommodate different activities – from quiet working spaces to collaboration zones and huddle spaces. To collaborate, workers need areas where they can connect their laptop to a big screen to share their ideas with others – not have everyone crammed around someone’s laptop. But fiddly wires to connect can really take the spontaneity out of a huddle meeting.  Wireless presentation systems like Clickshare provide an easy plug-and-play solution to connect your screen to the big screen. Whether you are working from a laptop, tablet or mobile. It’s quick and easy – everything agile working should be!

The Right Technology For Agile Working

From Desk to Meeting Room to Living Room

Cloud-based technology is the secret to agile working. There is nothing more frustrating than not having access to files and materials because you are not sat within the company network. Make sure your servers are accessible (and secure) for everyone, anywhere. And then choose technology that allows you to maximise this feature. For example, an interactive display  which is connected to the cloud, gives you the option to access files from your desktop, annotate and enhance in a meeting, and then save and access again the next day when you’re working from home. For creatives, the Nureva Span provides a digital canvas that teams can use for collaboration and then save to the cloud to revert back to wherever they may be working next. So working is seamless, and, well, agile!

The Right Technology For Agile Working

Instant Recognition

We’re getting so used to intuitive, simple tech in our personal lives – with fingerprint, voice or iris recognition, shouldn’t we have the same simplicity in our agile working environments? Increasingly intelligent solutions are being adopted with our workplace technology – where all you need is a personal security card, thumb print or your smartphone for technology to assume your own personal settings. Take for example the new StarLeaf Touch 2045; the video conferencing main control unit will instantly recognise registered users when their smartphone comes into close proximity. So that scheduled meetings are synced with the systems and ready to take place at the touch of a button. Now that sounds like the sort of recognition that we all deserve!

Home, Sweet Office

If you’re a fan of working from home do you ever worry about the impact on collaboration when people aren’t all in the same office? Often, there’s a sacrifice: meetings get postponed or decision making is delayed as key stake-holders are missing. But if you have a reliable video communication channel this doesn’t have to be the case. We like StarLeaf for video communication – not only are their simple meeting room systems really easy to use, their secure network allows you to speak to anyone from anywhere. Call quality is great (subject to internet connection) and you can see when someone is available to chat – so you can still ‘drop-in’ on a colleague working from home. From quick catch ups, to decision making meetings, to screen-sharing,  a great video communication system will ensure agile working  does not compromise on collaboration.

The Right Technology For Agile Working

Agile working has many benefits for an organisation. But the technology that enables it must also be right, so that it doesn’t ultimately slow you down. We work with many businesses to help them identify what technology is going to help them work quickly and easily. We also have a partnership with office design experts Blueprint Interiors, so if you want to design your office to support agile working or create an activity based working environment, we know exactly where to start. Contact us to find out more…

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Does Video Conferencing Put You at Risk of Hacking?

video conferencing hacking

If you’re worried that cloud-based video conferencing is at risk of hacking, you’re right. But not if you choose the right system.

Cyber security is a consideration for everyone nowadays. And for none more so than businesses and IT departments. As technology develops, and the cloud-based apps and tools we use to communicate with each other only multiplies, it sometimes seems easier to simply put a blanket ban on using those tools that pose a risk.

Only last year, Google’s Project Zero exposed critical vulnerabilities in the WebRTC open source that enables video calling for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Facebook Messenger, Signal and many others. Just by accepting a call, a memory heap overflow could be triggered that would allow the hacker to take over the victim’s account. Whilst this identification allowed the problem to be addressed, how long until another flaw in the system is identified?

More recently, with increasing numbers of people using Zoom for video calling during the Covid-19 lockdown, security breaches are being highlighted. Despite people using passwords and security features.

But this doesn’t mean that all cloud-based video conferencing solutions are at risk of hacking. Here are our tips for secure video conferencing:

How to prevent hacking through your video conferencing system:

Place Endpoints Inside Firewalls

One way to mitigate risk of hacking of your video conferencing system is to place endpoints inside firewalls. It sounds simple, but the reality is that having endpoints outside of firewalls has become common practice, as it’s a quick fix to enable video calling with other organisations and external bridging services. The trouble is that users don’t always change default logins. And vulnerabilities in the software are not protected by the firewalls either.  Both of which allows hackers easy access. Another problem is being targeted for ‘denial of service attacks’ or H.323 nuisance spam callers.

By taking these endpoints out of the public internet and placing them inside the firewalls of the users private network, these risks are removed. StarLeaf is the leading provider for secure cloud-based video calling. It allows you to make cross-provider calls to anyone with or without an existing video calling system, but maintains the endpoints inside the user’s private network. It’s all thanks to the StarLeaf NAT/ firewall traversal solution which requires only a single port to connect securely to the StarLeaf cloud. This connection is secured further by Transport Layer Security (TLS) which encrypts media and signalling so that all communications and software updates are secure.

Does Video Conferencing Put You at Risk of Hacking?

Run a Closed Network with Existing Security

Operating video calling through a closed network is a great way to keep your network secure. But it will reduce the usability of the system and therefore decrease the value of the investment. For users to be able to connect with external users, the IP addresses need to be pre-approved, providing a considerable admin task for IT. Particularly when home broadband connections often change their IP address on a regular basis. Or a VPN connection would provide a solution, but that does rely on end users having the skills to do this relatively tricky task. And how many execs or home workers have the time to fiddle around with that?

Does Video Conferencing Put You at Risk of Hacking?

We think that video conferencing – and any technology for the matter – should be simple, and easy to use. To make life easier, tasks simpler and save time and therefore money. Which is why, again StarLeaf comes out on top for us. Because the StarLeaf cloud allows you to open your network to external video calls from anywhere without compromising on security. It’s simple, easy and secure.

Avoid Man-in-the-Middle Attack with Authentication

People think that you don’t need separate authentication on a video call because you can see the other person. But a hacker can intercept a call and sit unobserved, watching,, listening and even recording what is being said without you knowing. StarLeaf endpoints and cloud-based servers all have a signed certificate burned into them which are mutually required to enable the connection. Which means all people on the call have been authenticated and no man-in-the-middle can access the connection.

You can also avoid hackers by taking away the default ‘automatic answer’ function in your video conferencing system. Auto-answer of incoming calls poses a real security risk, especially when simply answering an unknown call can be all it takes to permit hackers. Choosing a system like StarLeaf where auto answer isn’t possible, eliminates the risk of this being the default setting or someone setting it up without realising the security implications.

Does Video Conferencing Put You at Risk of Hacking?

Video Communication with ISO/IEC 27001

Because of their commitment to secure, video conferencing, StarLeaf have developed a product that has considered all challenges. Their systems are monitored 24/7 and all data is, in turn, backed up securely. All of its security features have earned it international security recognition with ISO/IEC 27001 certification. The rigourous standards demanded from the certification place StarLeaf at the forefront of global video communication security.

Does Video Conferencing Put You at Risk of Hacking?

Rebekah Allendevaux, senior partner at Allendevaux & Company, the ISO/IEC 27001 implementation firm, said, “StarLeaf has attained the most respected and internationally recognized information security and compliance standard. As a global organization entrusted with real-time conference media, presence, chat messages, recorded meetings and content sharing, the safeguards translate into customer trust and confidence.”

Encryption for Media & Signalling

Video conferencing systems use the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to encrypt media which prevents unauthorized persons from hearing or seeing your calls. But most of them do not provide encryption on signalling as well. This makes it possible for hackers to access the conference ID and PIN numbers which will then allow them to access meetings that take place on the bridge/ MCU. We like the StarLeaf system because it encrypts both media AND signalling giving you piece of mind that your call is secure.

Does Video Conferencing Put You at Risk of Hacking?

Test Test and Test Again

The best way to ensure your security isn’t compromised is to take the view of a hacker and try to find the weaknesses. We are able to reassure our customers that StarLeaf undertake regular penetration testing from expert third parties. The latest of which found no major or critical issues and the non-priority issues were taken care of. They also have an active bug bounty programme which challenges freelance security researchers to continually test their security. And so far so good!So for secure video conferencing that does not put your business at risk of hacking, StarLeaf is the answer you are looking for. To see how simple to use the StarLeaf system is, contact us for a free trial… or if you want to see it in action, take a look at this video…

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Image credits: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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Is THIS The Ultimate Award-Winning Interactive Display?

Neutral decor

If the array of Interactive Displays on the market has left you feeling spoilt for choice, maybe its time to let the experts decide….

In the world of interactive displays there are so many options to choose from. How do you even know where to start – let alone which one to pick?! We look at why the award winning interactive display range from CleverTouch might be the answer to your problems…In the world of interactive displays there are so many options to choose from. Different types of touch screens including IR on glass, EMR (electromagnetic resonance) or infrared. Different features available including video calling, simultaneous annotation and software and app availability. Various connection outputs as well as choosing inbuilt or external PC… The list goes on and on. Every feature requires careful consideration to make sure you get it right, because every organisation and its needs are different. But if you’re looking for a quick place to start, looking for an award-winning interactive display might save you some valuable research time.

For me, I have been recommending interactive display solutions to our customers for many years across a range of manufacturers, depending on their budget and needs. But recently one of our favourite interactive display manufacturers has been reaching high critical acclaim, and we know why. CleverTouch have been continually evolving their interactive displays for many years. The current CleverTouch range offers multi-award winning interactive displays which offer solutions for a range of customers. Keen to find out more..?

What Makes an Award Winning Interactive Display?

Is THIS The Ultimate Award-Winning Interactive Display?

The CleverTouch Pro Series

First of all, let’s start with the basics: the CleverTouch Pro Series offer two models of interactive display designed for business: the CleverTouch Pro Series E-CAP and the CleverTouch Pro Series High Precision. The first features dual touch-screen technologies designed to recognise both stylus and hand gestures simultaneously. The latter offers an ultra-precise writing experience. The CleverTouch range has received many awards and was most recently awarded Best Display Technology for Collaborating and Conferencing at the inAVation Awards.

Is THIS The Ultimate Award-Winning Interactive Display?

Simplicity + Quality

Whichever model you go for, each screen features 4K Ultra HD resolution, 20 point touch, integrated speakers and 8ms response time. But the real draw with these award-winning interactive displays is the simplicity of them. They are easy to install, easy to update, and super-intuitive so whatever your background, you’ll feel comfortable using them. With Clevershare, you can just walk into the room and tap in your 6 digit code to instantly share your laptop with the main screen. Its as simple as that. And you can switch between laptops just as easily, either by using the app or one of the included Clevershare USB dongles – so even guests can share with ease.

Is THIS The Ultimate Award-Winning Interactive Display?

For Collaboration Spaces

The 4K screen and intuitive touch makes it really easy to see information in meetings. They’re designed to be used in meeting rooms, auditoriums, reception areas and break out spaces – in fact anywhere where people need to collaborate or get creative. With an inbuilt 4K PC, the display makes for a very neat solution which can be either wall mounted or on a mobile trolley so it can be moved between spaces – ideal for agile working or breakout spaces.

Is THIS The Ultimate Award-Winning Interactive Display?

App Access

The CleverTouch Pro Series offers a complete package of apps and software, as well as access to the full Microsoft software suite, to enable seamless collaboration. These include apps for screen sharing, remote annotation on shared documents and an infinity whiteboard designed for business. It also includes Sedao digital signage software so the screens can be managed centrally to communicate messages to users. This might include alerts when a new meeting is due to start or company communications when the screens are not in use.

Is THIS The Ultimate Award-Winning Interactive Display?

Partners

You can easily combine with a video conferencing app like Skype for Business or StarLeaf to provide a high quality, complete collaboration solution. Connecting people, wherever they are, and helping them to work more efficiently and more collaboratively.  Best of all, the apps and software are available free, for life, with no subscriptions or additional charges from CleverTouch for updates. Now that sounds pretty seamless to us!

By partnering with some of the big names in workplace technology, including Intel, Microsoft, Zoom and Skype for Business you can guarantee your CleverTouch interactive display will work easily with programmes from these brands and give you the same reliable experience.

Is THIS The Ultimate Award-Winning Interactive Display?

Updates & Upgrades

If you’re in charge of managing technology in your corporation, you’ll be pleased to know that updates, upgrades and user support are covered with remote management for 5 years, saving time and resources that can be spent elsewhere in the business. These screens are easily integrated with existing systems and processes, so installation is really simple. And security is paramount, so CleverTouch includes features like being able to work completely off network when required and automatically wipe the screen after use or via a centralised control. All this with a 5 year warranty as standard.

Is THIS The Ultimate Award-Winning Interactive Display?

Touch Technology

The two models of the CleverTouch Pro Series for business, the Pro Series E-CAP and Pro Series High Precision, offer different touch technologies depending on your needs. The E-CAP uses a combination of IR on glass plus EMR (electromagnetic resonance) which provides a highly accurate and responsive screen for dual pen writing functionality. But it also recognises finger and touch gestures so you can write and gesture simultaneously. It is also a slimmer and more lightweight model.

Is THIS The Ultimate Award-Winning Interactive Display?

Intuitive Writing

The CleverTouch Pro Series High Precision also offers dual pen / dual colour stylus functionality but using infra-red technology for an enhanced standard of precision for writing.

This basically makes the E-CAP somewhat more intuitive, as you can write with a pen, swipe with your hand, highlight things with your finger, all at the same time which really comes into its own when collaborating.

As with any interactive display, I could write for hours about the intricate details of these solutions, but ultimately the proof is in the testing. So if you want to try out the award winning interactive display from CleverTouch for yourself, why not get in touch, and we’ll be more than happy to arrange a demonstration.

Is THIS The Ultimate Award-Winning Interactive Display?

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The Benefits of Video Conferencing (and Why You Haven’t Adopted it Yet…).

benefits of video conferencing

Video conferencing has so many benefits so what’s holding people back?

Video conferencing can save time and money on business travel, whilst offering a benefit that can help to attract and retain talent. It could even help to address gender balance in the workplace…. So why aren’t more companies adopting it?

The benefits of video conferencing are being enjoyed by businesses, large and small across the globe. With instant cost savings on travel to meetings, the return on investment can be quickly calculated. Time saved on business travel is perhaps even more valuable for some. People spend less time on trains, planes and in cars so they can be more productive in the workplace, but also have a greater work-life balance without the pressures of excessive business travel or commuting.

Video conferencing can therefore help businesses to attract and retain the best people. In particular, groups such as working parents and millennials often prefer businesses that can offer them flexibility with when and where they work. Video conferencing provides a valuable medium to enable working from home, supporting those who want or need to work from home including working parents or people with disabilities.

So, if the benefits of video conferencing are so valuable, what is holding organisations back?

The Benefits of Video Conferencing (and Why You Haven’t Adopted it Yet…).

It’s too expensive…

Historically, video conferencing was a medium reserved for large corporates who could afford the large and expensive servers that were required. But now cloud-based video conferencing designed for business, means that you can get secure video conferencing plus desktop video calling at a very modest cost. For example, installing a single StarLeaf meeting room system for video conferencing can provide desktop video calling across an entire organisation, with the ability to video call anyone who has an internet connection and a camera.

The Benefits of Video Conferencing (and Why You Haven’t Adopted it Yet…).

It’s too big a change …

Of course, a major hesitation is cultural; leaders are nervous to take on a major change which will ultimately impact the working culture in their organisation. People often feel nervous or self-conscious seeing themselves on camera which can create a resistance to adopting video communication in an organisation.  Talking to your people and explaining to them why the company is moving to a video culture and explaining what’s in it for them, will help to address their concerns. Training and practice will also help people as they start to get used to a new way of communication. And once people get used to it, they will realise that the experience is so much richer than a phone call that they wont want to go back!

The Benefits of Video Conferencing (and Why You Haven’t Adopted it Yet…).

We’ll be open to hackers…

Security is also a concern. Businesses are often concerned that a more affordable cloud-based system cannot be relied upon for security of networks and puts them at risk of hackers. But choosing a provider with its own fully-owned network and known Points of Presence means you only need to open your firewalls to a single IP or DNS name. Endpoints outside the firewalls are at risk of spammers but choosing a network which can place endpoints inside your own private network will maintain security.

The Benefits of Video Conferencing (and Why You Haven’t Adopted it Yet…).

It’s just not reliable…

People are also put off by those awkward, stilted video conversations where sound cuts out, connection is lost and the conversation is a series of repetitions and confusions. If you’ve ever experienced this, it’s likely that you’re either on an old system, or a system that has been piecemealed together and is not fit for purpose. Choosing a complete, properly managed solution from a provider that is able to offer guaranteed uptime and responsive tech support will ensure your video meetings are as polished and professional as you are. It’s just about getting it right.

We have an organisation full of technophobes!

Most organisations will have a certain number of techno-phobes, and these people will provide a considerable resistance to change. But choosing a video conferencing solution that is intuitive and easy to use will help to appease anyone who is hesitant to adopt new technology.

Ultimately, as with any change, you need a considered strategy for implementation that looks at not just the technology, but also what changes need to be made to people, tasks and organisational structure too. Change is hard, but a necessary part of business success in the modern world. The key is to keep talking to your people, explaining the reasons and the benefits of video conferencing and supporting them as they adapt.

The Benefits of Video Conferencing (and Why You Haven’t Adopted it Yet…).

At TecInteractive, our philosophy is that technology should make life easier not harder. So we find solutions that are simple to use and that just work. If you’re ready to take the video conferencing challenge, we’ve got lots of ideas to make it a success – why not arrange a free trial so you can ‘try before you buy’? Just contact us to find out more.

The Benefits of Video Conferencing (and Why You Haven’t Adopted it Yet…).

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Can Video Conferencing Help to Address Gender Balance in The Workplace?

video conferencing gender balance in the workplace

With the gender pay gap and equality in the workplace a pressing priority for organisations, we look at how the introduction of video conferencing can help to address gender balance

Video conferencing is accelerating in popularity in the workplace. Simple video applications like Skype or Google Hangouts can bring people together effortlessly. And it allows them to enjoy the benefits of speaking to someone face to face, even if they are working miles away. Using an inbuilt laptop camera, a plug-in camera or a full-on conferencing suite, video conferencing saves time and money on business travel. It also provides a greater opportunity for relationship building and collaboration than with telephone calls and email alone.  So what role can video conferencing play in addressing gender balance in the workplace?

Video conferencing is particularly useful for anyone who wants or needs to work from home. And working mums certainly come into that category. As a working mum myself, I would simply not be able to work without video communication, and I’m lucky that I eventually found an organisation that allowed me to do just that.

Before children, I commuted for three hours a day, leaving my home town at 7:15am and returning twelve hours later. When I had kids, it just wasn’t sustainable to continue this. So I left my London job (where I had recently had a promotion) and became a full time mum.

Can Video Conferencing Help to Address Gender Balance in The Workplace?

And it’s a familiar story. The result is of course is under-representation of women in the workforce, and in particular, senior positions, as women either step out of work or miss out on promotion due to the seemingly impossible task to ‘have it all’.

Having an opportunity to work from home can certainly help to address this. It eliminates the commute, giving you more time at home with your family, and allows parents to be on hand for school meetings or doctors appointments where needed. But working from home has long been frowned upon by businesses and managers who favour presenteeism over output. And even progressive organisations like Yahoo and IBM have curtailed home working as collaboration and innovation can be impeded when people aren’t working together in the same office. But video communication can help to overcome that.

Can Video Conferencing Help to Address Gender Balance in The Workplace?

Video conferencing allows people to join meetings from a remote location. So you don’t have to travel to take part. But desktop video calling takes collaboration to a deeper level. Company-wide cloud solutions like Skype for Business or StarLeaf allow colleagues to interact with each other, face to face, from their desktops at the touch of a button. It’s like making a phone call – but you just use video. So you can have the same sense of popping round to someone’s desk, but you can be in different places.

For organisations who have made the culture-shift from telephone to video calling the results are impressive: improved relationships, better communication, more regular opportunities for collaboration – both with other colleagues and people outside the business. Video calls can be made to anyone with an internet connection and a web cam (yes inbuilt laptop cameras work fine!) so it can be used universally.

Can Video Conferencing Help to Address Gender Balance in The Workplace?

And it’s not just about women and working mums. A recent study by Deloitte and flexible working experts Timewise, suggests that only by providing a flexible working culture for everyone can we truly address gender balance in the workplace. The challenge is that people who work more flexibly and from home often feel they have less status and importance because of this, with many claiming to have missed out on promotion because of their flexible working. But if we can normalise non-traditional working across the workforce, for everyone, it stops the stigma of working from home and flexible working patterns.

Can Video Conferencing Help to Address Gender Balance in The Workplace?

Chief Executive of Timewise, Karen Mattison said, “The traditional workplace was designed for a family structure in which one person stayed at home and another went out to work. This is no longer the case for the majority of UK households. Employers need to catch up with the needs and aspirations of the modern workforce, or risk getting left behind.”

Video conferencing offers a practical way to give working mothers and indeed workers generally, an increased sense of work-life balance. This ultimately helps with staff retention and can be a great incentive to recruit the best talent – both women and men – who either need or simply want a job that allows them to work away from the office.

So if you are looking to provide a working environment that supports women returning to work, that addresses gender balance, whilst boosting staff retention and talent acquisition, video conferencing should definitely be a consideration. At TecInteractive, we support organisations that are either looking to introduce video conferencing or improve their existing video conferencing system. Whether you are looking for additional hardware or a complete cloud-based solution, we work across a range of brands and manufacturers so that we can help you find the solution that is right for you. Contact us to find out more. 

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Best AV Tech for Meeting Rooms 2020

benefits of video conferencing meeting rooms 2019

For the best AV tech for meeting rooms 2020, these audio visual solutions will get your business ready for the year ahead

The leading workplaces of today value collaboration, flexibility, wellbeing. And technology is a great enabler of these things. Workers want tech that makes their lives easier – that promotes work-life balance, that eliminates (rather than causes) workplace stress and that helps them to streamline their work and be more productive. Businesses are also thinking about Brexit, and growing doubt over HS2 which would change the future of business travel in the UK.

Our choices for the best AV tech for meeting rooms for 2020 have been influenced by all these factors. Take a look at our list, and see what AV you already have in your meeting rooms. And which ones you want to tackle in the year ahead…

Best AV Tech for Meeting Rooms 2020

1. Plug and Play AV:

The best AV tech in meeting rooms will enhance user experience – not bring it down. There’s nothing more frustrating and time consuming than fiddling with cables and wires at the start of a meeting. Plug and play has gone from being a buzz word, to being an essential feature for workplace technology and meeting room AV.

To wirelessly connect to a big screen, products like Clickshare are priceless. Or if you need to quickly connect to a camera and audio for video calling, plug and play technology like Logitech Rally, definitely fits the bill.

Best AV Tech for Meeting Rooms 2020

2. Video-Ready Meeting Rooms:

The growing accessibility and quality of video calling means that businesses everywhere are making their meeting rooms video-ready. 70% of SMEs would rather have a video conference than travel to meetings. It saves time and money and is likely to grow in importance if businesses move outside of the UK post-Brexit or HS2 is shelved.

Whilst SME’s maybe adopting video because it’s more affordable and efficient, larger organisations with legacy video systems like Cisco or Polycom are also overhauling their systems.  Businesses large and small are reaping the benefits of cloud-based systems like StarLeaf that offer secure and interoperable video calling that allow you to call anyone with an internet connection and a laptop camera. Or if you just need to upgrade your camera and audio, take a look at the new Logitech Rally. It offers a great quality camera and audio combo in one.  As technology develops, who knows, we may have hologram-calling in meeting rooms in the not too distant future!

Best AV Tech for Meeting Rooms 2020

3. Sound Systems That Talk the Talk:

Crystal clear audio in a meeting room is essential. Whether you’re having a conference call or showing a video presentation. But you no longer need a fancy integrated sound system. There’s a growing trend for simple plug and play speakers and microphones that offer great sound quality, without messing around with the office infrastructure. Products like the ground-breaking Nureva HDL-300, provides crystal clear sound and microphone coverage from its wall-mounted position. It offers quality and simplicity, connecting easily to personal devices for both network calls or the UC application of your choice.

Best AV Tech for Meeting Rooms 2020

4. Remote Collaboration:

As the trend for remote working continues, the need for remote collaboration only increases. We realise we need other people to work at our best, but video and conference calling can only get us so far. We’re therefore seeing more people using interactive displays to enhance AV tech in meeting rooms in 2020. These popular, touch screens are great for collaborating together in a room, but many models allow you to collaborate on the screen from different locations. You just connect to the main screen via a tablet or a laptop. This allows different users to collaborate on the same document, wherever they may be in the world. Combine this feature with great video and sound quality VC to get a truly collaborative experience. Cloud-based storage allows anyone to access the project afterwards to review or make changes from their personal device.

Best AV Tech for Meeting Rooms 2020

5. Standardisation of AV:

A key trend in meeting room AV is standardisation of meeting rooms. As technology develops it makes more sense for your AV deployments to be managed centrally through a remote source. This means every meeting room needs to have the same technology, rather than taking a piecemeal approach. Meeting room booking systems are a great example of this. They let anyone book and see room availability and they provide central analytics and management functions.

Video communication networks like StarLeaf allow all room deployments to be managed and maintained through a centralised system. It means you don’t have to visit every system in the business for maintenance or repairs. Not only are these solutions great for meeting room management, they also provide a simple and consistent experience for users. This reduces stress and downtime for users as well as calls to IT helpdesks with people just trying to figure out how things work.

Best AV Tech for Meeting Rooms 2020

6. Seamless AV Experience:

When people get into a meeting room, they need to have the same user experience as they do when they’re at their desk. Whether that’s accessing files or wifi, screen-sharing like you’re showing a person next to you or using your usual UC portal. We’re seeing an increase in technology that moves people towards a more seamless AV experience from desk to meeting room. For example, Teamline by StarLeaf provides Skype for Business video conferencing in a meeting room. Without Teamline, S4B users find it difficult to collaborate with others in a meeting room setting, the same way they do at their desktop. Teamline bridges this gap, increasing usability but keeping things simple for a seamless AV experience.

At TecInteractive we live and breathe AV for meeting rooms and the workplace. If you want some advice about choosing the best AV tech for meeting rooms you should adopt in 2020, why not contact us for a free consultation. Or download our free Guide to Meeting Room Tech.

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7 Steps for Designing a Video Conferencing Room

Neutral decor

If you’re designing a video conferencing room these tips will help you get it right

Designing a video conferencing room requires a very specific brief. It’s not just like any other meeting room. Get it wrong, and you’ll find your meetings are less productive, as you struggle to connect with, see, hear and collaborate with your associates. But that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to get it right. Follow these steps for designing a video conferencing room and we’ll make sure your video conferences are picture (and sound) perfect!

7 Steps for Designing a Video Conferencing Room

1. Neutral Room Décor

Don’t get us wrong. We LOVE funky room décor: bold wallpapers, bright colours. But it just doesn’t work when you’re designing a video conferencing room.

Ideally you want a neutral or pastel coloured wall behind you that doesn’t detract from the subject (you!).

But you also need to avoid white walls (and tables!) that reflect the light and make you harder to see. Keep it simple and save any statement design pieces for walls that are out of shot!

7 Steps for Designing a Video Conferencing Room

2. Acoustically Challenged

Large rooms in particular can prove a real challenge for acoustics. The empty spaces can make your voice take on a somewhat echoey tone which is off putting for both you and your associates.

An acoustic ceiling is a good way to address this or you could use acoustic absorption panels on the walls.

For optimum acoustic absorption, we recommend having suitable materials on about half of the wall space – ideally on two adjacent walls rather than on opposite walls.

7 Steps for Designing a Video Conferencing Room

3. Sounds Good 

There are so many great products available now that offer high quality audio – both in terms of picking up sound and in delivering it. For large spaces the Nureva HDL300 is a wall mounted sound bar that sends out thousands of virtual microphones in to the room picking up sound perfectly wherever people are sitting. Mounting it on the same wall as the video screen provides a more authentic, look-at-me experience as the sounds comes from the same place as the person speaking.

For smaller spaces and flexible sound, the Evoko Minto is easy to use, move and connect to via Bluetooth or cable. If you go for a separate microphone and speaker combination, make sure your microphones are well distributed and that the speakers are pointed away from them.

7 Steps for Designing a Video Conferencing Room

4. TV, Camera, Action

Getting the layout of your TV screen and camera right is really important.

Ideally the camera should be at eye level for a natural experience. But depending on the size of your room and the camera you have this may not always be possible.

A camera set above the screen will cover the room well but can throw faces into shadow and won’t be too flattering on bald spots! But below the screen can be too low and give less coverage. See how it looks given your specific room, technology and light.

And maybe consider getting a special wide-angled camera if designing smaller video conferencing rooms.

7 Steps for Designing a Video Conferencing Room

5. Have it All

You might find it makes more sense to invest in an all-in-one camera and audio system. We really like the new Logitech Rally which delivers studio quality video with impeccable voice clarity and clever science to make sure all voices are heard equally.

The modular audio systems can be used in medium to large meeting spaces, where additional microphones and speakers can be added with no added complexity. Its simple to use with a separate display hub and table hub to hide away all those messy wires.

It also integrates with any video conferencing application that is accessed via a computer or USB including Skype for Business, Google Hangouts and Zoom.

7 Steps for Designing a Video Conferencing Room

6. Content Sharing 

The best video calls give you a true face-to-face experience – as if you were really in the same room as each other.

A big part of that is to be able to show your associate what you are looking at or working on.

Having an additional screen for presentations and screen sharing may be appropriate in some larger video conferencing rooms. But for smaller spaces make sure you have a screen sharing function as part of your video conferencing deployment.

A solution like StarLeaf Breeze allows you to switch seamlessly between seeing the person you are speaking to and screen sharing, for a more authentic meeting experience.

7. Connectivity

If you have technology that people are going to connect to then it needs to be easy to use. Consider if you will have wired or wireless connections. If wired, will you offer an array of connections depending on the device?

For connecting to a screen, a simple solution like Clickshare can save a lot of time and hassle. If people will be video conferencing using their personal laptop or mobile phone, choose speakers and cameras that are easy to connect to, to help enhance the experience.

7 Steps for Designing a Video Conferencing Room

At Tecinteractive, we know a lot about video conferencing. But we are also partnered with office design experts Blueprint Interiors.

So if you are looking at designing a video conferencing room, we have the know-how and the contacts to make it happen.

Why not give us a call and we’ll be happy to have a chat – or a video call to see how we can help.

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Image credits: Blueprint Interiors

Tips & Technology for Easier Meeting Room Management

easier meeting room management

If you’re managing multiple meeting rooms, our tips can save you and your users time and headaches:

In any business or organisation with multiple meeting rooms, there is a considerable workload involved in maintaining and managing those meeting rooms. In many businesses these rooms are in use from 9 to 5 (and beyond!) which means they need to be fully functioning all the time. The technology within them needs to be simple to use, and it needs to ‘just work’ – without the need to call IT or facilities every time a meeting is due to start. There needs to be a simple process for rectifying problems and a means to address them quickly and efficiently. Standardising meeting rooms is a great solution for easier meeting room management. Not only does it provide a predictable and consistent experience for your users, it makes management more efficient too. So here are our top tips for making your meeting room management easier and more efficient:

1. Meeting Room Fit Out

You know that shoe-cupboard-sized meeting room with the peeling wallpaper that no-one ever wants to use? Exactly! Standardising meeting rooms starts with getting the basics right. You’ll have less people clamouring for the best spaces whilst other rooms lay idle, if all rooms are well-decorated and furnished appropriately.

Tips & Technology for Easier Meeting Room Management

You don’t necessarily want to furnish every room the same, as rooms will come in different shapes and sizes. But choosing a reputable company to fit out and furnish all your meeting spaces, means you have one point of contact if anything breaks or needs replacing. There’s no tracking down where that table came from or who fitted this workbench. They can also ensure that every room has the same quality and desirability, whilst meeting different needs.

2. Room Booking Systems

One of the simplest ways to make meeting room management easier is with a meeting room booking system. Whilst one office may go through a secretary, another office may have a shared spreadsheet or use their company calendar. It can be really confusing – and time consuming.

Tips & Technology for Easier Meeting Room Management

Increasingly, meeting room booking systems are seen as an affordable way to standardise room bookings across organisations. Systems like Evoko allow people to view and make room bookings from either their outlook calendar or directly at the room, via an intuitive touch-screen interface. Colleagues can see real-time, what rooms are available, if there is a no-show or stop room-thieves! Evoko gives you knowledge and analytics on how the rooms are being used and can be managed centrally. It also saves down-time for the next users as faults or problems with a room to be reported directly, .

3. Screen Connection

How long do you give yourself before a presentation to get set-up? Quite often, we have to allow extra time to connect our device to the main screen if we don’t know what cables or ports we are going to be faced with. Or else delay the start whilst we get our tech working.  You could standardise your meeting rooms, by ensuring every space has the same, vast array of ports and cables to accommodate every device – including that of visitors. But this is confusing in itself for the non-tech savvy!

Tips & Technology for Easier Meeting Room Management

A better solution for easier meeting room management is to provide a wireless presentation system like ClickShare which allows anyone to connect to the main screen wirelessly via either a USB plug-in button or a downloaded ‘button’.  Clickshare is so simple to use, it takes away the frustration and time-wasting of fiddling with wires. Both small meeting rooms and large conference spaces can be accommodated with the range of different sized solutions. This means that whichever room you are in, you get the same standardised experience.

4. Video Conferencing

Gone are the days when video conferencing (VC) was reserved for the executive board rooms or meetings with overseas associates. In our geographically dispersed working world, where collaboration is vital and technology is accessible, video (including use of Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams) is proving to be a great tool for people who want to collaborate but don’t have the time to travel. So it’s becoming more of a necessity for meeting rooms to be equipped with suitable VC equipment.

Tips & Technology for Easier Meeting Room Management

Affordable cloud-based solutions like StarLeaf offer businesses a simple way to make video accessible to everyone. With solutions designed for both smaller huddle spaces and large conference rooms, staff can have the same easy-to-use, intuitive system whichever room they are in, without having to plug their laptop in. With meeting room solutions that also integrate perfectly with Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams, StarLeaf offers a centralised meeting room management solution which allows you to seamlessly manage all your meeting room technology deployments via one centralised system.  Now that’s the kind of ‘standard’ I expect!For more information or to arrange a free consultation on how you can standardise your meeting rooms for easier meeting room management, contact us today.

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