Collaboration Is the Goal
Decision-making has changed. The days of top-down decisions is giving way to an acknowledgement that, in a fast-changing and diverse world, collaboration is the key to innovation. Businesses and government organizations, large and small, are seeking ways to group source their ideas. They are turning to technology as the way to develop a collaborative and connected workforce.
In addition, there is recognition that the physical workspace must reflect this desire for inclusiveness in the creation process. Office design and audio-visual solutions are two, connected arms of this new approach to decision-making.
Make Room(s) for Meetings
Many organizations are cutting back on their physical office space for a variety of reasons, beginning with constricting budgets. At the same time, they are also acknowledging that more employees are working off-site, and using flexible hours. The technology now exists to engage those employees in group decisions, and include far-flung operations in the collaborative process as well.
However, in order to bring in employees via audio-visual technology, it is necessary to have an actual meeting space. The first step is to effectively use existing office space and that means converting "I” space to "we” space. The old design of work cubicles, often ringed by small, self-contained offices, inhibits collaboration. Studies have shown that workers are frustrated by a lack of meeting space, both formal and informal. Office design must address that in order to promote innovation through collaboration.
There are other ways to effectively maximize the use of meeting rooms. Some seem painfully simple but, as anyone who works in an office knows, meeting rooms often seem to be empty – or double booked. A few solutions:
- Room scheduling systems
- Enabling faster meeting start times
- Faster meeting wrap up
- Better use of technology and, in particular, audio-visual meeting technology
Video Conferencing Aids Collaboration
AV technology has undergone explosion in growth in recent years, paralleling the growing desire for collaborative decision-making. It also reflects a growing awareness of the expense of travel to physically attend meetings, and its cost in carbon emissions. Technology enables faster decision-making – there simply aren't the brakes of setting up a physical meeting and travelling.
Advances in AV technology enable decision-making to range from both point-to-point meetings (two people) to one involving groups. Those can be clustered in a central meeting area in Toronto (for example) with others linking in from home, the road, in meeting rooms offsite – across Canada and around the world.
The base element in the mix is good audio – a meeting cannot take place if you can't hear your colleagues. The visual element enables the addition of non-verbal information that can inform the conversation. This can include an Interactive Whiteboard (IWB).
There are challenges to integrating an audio-visual approach to enable collaborative decision-making. It is not uncommon to hear people say that they have the equipment – but do not often use it. There is always a fear of choosing the right technology – and implementing it requires the assistance of experts. Look for solution-based thinking by those experts, not just sales people eager to stock your newly-created meeting areas with hot new "products”.