Blog Post

Using Dedicated “Media Rooms” for Improved Collaboration

In recent months, I’ve increased my usage of video and multi-media presentations and conferencing, both for collaboration with external business contacts and for internal product development.

Not long after starting to use these technologies on a regular basis, I decided I needed a better and more-permanent setup in order to remain productive and comfortable, while also being able to shift quickly and seamlessly from one activity to another. Otherwise, I was constantly rearranging my work space to fit the task at hand and spending as much time setting up for a given activity as I was actually completing it.

The Case for a Dedicated Media Room

Many companies today with distributed workforces are making dedicated “media rooms” an important aspect of communication, one that allows workers separated geographically to engage in dynamic conversations, as if they were in the same room and without having to spend time setting up equipment.

Lew Epstein is a general manager at Steelcase, one company providing such working environments. Steelcase’s “media:scape rooms” are dedicated meeting areas that use furniture and technology to create collaborative work spaces for distributed teams. Epstein says that “teams need to share complex ideas [and] solutions that enable them to connect quickly and globally. They want to share content on their laptop or get up and write or draw on a whiteboard, and they need all the subtleties of face-to-face communication, too. For true collaboration, groups need spaces that nurture the process of collaboration. Work is not defined by what you do at a desk, and organizations are no longer confined within office towers. Teams need comfortable, versatile collaborative spaces to work in.”

Tandberg, now part of Cisco (s csco), is another company that provides such solutions for face-to-face communication or, as the company refers to them, “telepresence environments.” While these spaces require considerable investment, they can provide companies with cost savings and create greener organizations by cutting travel.

Creating a Media Room

The options for setting up a media space are as varied as the companies that use them. Overall, you’ll want to make sure your solution provides a seamless way to share information, audio, and video so that your team can easily connect and engage with one another remotely, but here are a few other considerations to make when planning your media room or space:

  • Think about how your team currently collaborates and how you might improve remote meetings and presentations.
  • Decide if you need a dedicated room is required,  or if whether you can integrate your media space within your current office or meeting area.
  • Decide if you’ll be conducting calls with multiple parties at either end or with just one person.
  • Think about whether your solution needs to be portable or if it will be set up as a permanent point within your office (some HD telepresence units are now reasonably portable).
  • Consider the types of content you will share within your presentations and meetings.

In the end, a dedicated media space allows a distributed workforce to collaborate and share information from anywhere in the world quickly and easily, saving time and money, while increasing the effectiveness of global communication.

Image courtesy Steelcase