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Transitioning to Hybrid Work? Start with a Technology Audit
As your business adopts a hybrid work model, special care needs to be paid to the in-office experience. One way to understand your needs in that regard: a technology audit. Here’s where to start.
June 28
Creating an excellent in-office experience for the hybrid workforce begins with these questions

As more and more businesses think about permanently adopting the model of the hybrid workforce, with its mix of in-person and remote collaborators, the process of that transition can seem overwhelming. As the pandemic triggered wave after wave of “work from home/return to office” cycles, many companies deployed “quick and dirty” communications solutions for their staff: Sticking up a single, inexpensive webcam in a conference room, for example.

Now that the global workforce is moving into a state of “hybrid permanence,” the technology needs of most businesses — and educational and government institutions, for that matter — are expanding rapidly. It’s become clear that in-person spaces need to be adapted to handle the needs of the emerging hybrid landscape. “Video conferencing is 50% of the hybrid experience, but when people are in the office, content presentation and sharing, scheduling, automation, and control all play a massive role in making a space work for the user,” says Crestron’s Senior Manager of Sales Enablement John Hesseltine.

Navigating this new reality requires expert advice — and planning at the very outset of the transition. “I think this process is so important because you can elevate the experience with very basic products,” says Hesseltine. “These types of questions, the customer’s answers, and the resulting solutions can really exceed the specifier’s expectations.” Simply put: Many of those who need these solutions “don’t know what they don’t know.” (Further reading on these solutions — and more — can be found at the bottom of the article.)

Consider this first step: A hybrid workplace technology audit. It’s a simple process, just a matter of asking a series of questions — but it’s important to know the right questions. The list below should serve as something of a “starter kit” to help your C-suite and IT departments understand just what needs must be addressed. In fact, these are likely some of the questions (but certainly not all) a technology integrator will likely ask as the new systems are being designed. That technology integrator is vital to any project’s success, by the way — they understand how to make every aspect of your hybrid solution work together for a seamless experience, free of glitches and frustrations.

From there, the technology for the hybrid workspace must be included in the earliest planning stages. It helps to think of technology — from AV and videoconferencing solutions to control and automation — as part of a room’s basic infrastructure, just as vital as planning for, say, standard high-voltage electrical outlets. Including the planning for tech at the earliest stages prevents later modifications — changes to a space that can be extremely costly.

Staff and Policies for Hybrid Work
  • Has your business instituted specific hybrid and remote-work policies?

  • Have you implemented equipment policies or practices as part of those protocols?

  • How much of your staff is remote, hybrid, or in-person?

  • How often do you hold hybrid meetings? How many might be occurring at a given time?

The Current Physical Space for In-Office Collaboration

How many of each of these spaces does your business currently have:

  • Single-occupant desks or offices

  • Small huddle rooms or niches

  • Medium-sized conference rooms

  • Large conference or training rooms

  • Large auditoriums or lecture halls

  • Break rooms, cafeterias, lounges, or other common social areas

The Right Equipment for Hybrid Work
  • Does each space/room have a display (or multiple displays)? Is it simple for users to connect to each display? How about multiple users connecting?

  • How many spaces in your business are currently connected for collaboration by virtual attendees?

  • Are you limited on rooms or collaboration spaces? Do you have a policy for booking rooms? Do those rooms get released back into the pool if meetings are canceled, or there are “no-show” meetings?

  • Do you have flexible, multi-purpose spaces? Do certain rooms have multiple functions? (For example: Could a cafeteria turn into a “town hall” space that might need to be outfitted to broadcast to remote employees — while also using microphones, speakers, and displays in that room for content?)

  • Do you have any needs for digital signage? Where? If it exists now, what’s the use case? Can or should that signage be adapted for multiple uses, if it isn’t already?

  • What’s your current room refresh cycle?

Creating the Best User Experience for a Hybrid Work Model
  • Do your users know how to use each room? Do they all function similarly? Do you have disparate remotes, keypads, and buttons to control the room?

  • Can you trigger a meeting with a single touch?

  • How long does it take meeting participants to share content? Can they accomplish this in under 10 seconds?

  • Are you standardized on a single collaboration software platform, such as Microsoft Teams® software or Zoom Rooms® software?

  • Is your equipment standardized across a single brand, platform, or ecosystem? If not, why not?

The In-Office Experience for Guests and IT
  • How often do guests join your meetings (such as outside salespeople, speakers, or consultants)?

  • Is your IT team on staff, or are they a subcontractor?

  • What’s your help desk procedure, and how are tickets resolved?

  • Are you using any kind of scheduling and/or monitoring solutions for the meeting rooms currently in use?

  • What are your current cybersecurity systems and protocols? Could/should they be strengthened?

Expanding Your Spaces for In-Office Collaboration
  • Do you expect your business to grow in a manner that will require more meeting spaces? Are they being added to an existing building? Will those meeting spaces be part of new construction or a repurposing (or retrofit) of current spaces?

  • If you are retrofitting a space, does the room’s building materials allow for in-wall cable runs?

  • Are you working with an architect or interior designer as you expand? Do you plan to?

  • What’s your current Wi-Fi® communications status? How many access points are there?

  • What have been your biggest pain points when it comes to the design, deployment, or upkeep of technology?

More Info on Hybrid Work Solutions and Their Benefits

Creating the right hybrid collaboration solutions for rooms of every size by focusing on use cases:

As planning begins for the transition to hybrid work, Crestron can give you the tools to create the right experience in every collaborative space, regardless of size. To find the perfect technology for a given space, however, start with the room’s intended function.

  • Meetings in personal workspaces These are generally single offices or pods with videoconferencing. Solutions here are straightforward: Crestron Flex with native Microsoft Teams® software, for example.

  • Collaboration with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) elements — While these solutions work for applications of any size, they’re very effective for small groups, often with some remote meeting attendees. These meetings are often held in huddle rooms or open areas where a few people congregate. AirMedia® wireless presentation and conferencing systems and the Jabra® PanaCast® 50 video bar work well in these situations.

  • One-touch meetings — These solutions can be applied to almost every space, from small niches to the largest conference rooms. As you’ll see here, there are broad possibilities for deploying Crestron Flex, and for larger rooms, the Crestron Sightline Experience is an excellent option (more on that in a moment).

  • Meetings in large (and custom) spaces — Solutions for meetings in auditoriums, town halls, council chambers, or expansive multi-purpose rooms include a wide variety of integrated devices. Successful integrations often require scalable control and management (such as the Crestron XiO Cloud® platform or Crestron Virtual Control [VC-4]), content distribution (Crestron DM NVX® AV-over-IP or DM Lite® transmitters, receivers, and switchers), videoconferencing with intelligent video (more info below), Crestron amps and speakers for audio, and workplace optimization solutions (including scheduling panels, occupancy sensors, digital signage, and more).

  • Training and educational applications — These rooms can include any combination of what’s mentioned above; most common solutions include Crestron Flex, Crestron DM NVX AV-over-IP, or Crestron AirMedia systems.

Intelligent video and beyond:

Crestron’s intelligent video solutions are industry leaders. These AI-driven technologies track who’s speaking in a meeting. They’re part of a broader concept for the best possible in-room collaboration installations, the Crestron Sightline Experience. These technologies both mimic visual languages we’re already accustomed to as human beings and provide greater accessibility for many users.

The benefits of hybrid work:

Research reveals that hybrid meeting modes are actually superior to other types. To reap all the benefits, however, there are other considerations at play — most notably, a shift in mindset.

Design and policies built for hybrid work:

As Crestron learned when the company itself transitioned to hybrid, there was a great deal of work to be on the front end of that transition — work that was helped along by an outside consultant. And now that hybrid work is here to stay, architects and designers are changing their approach to in-person workspaces, too.

Want to learn more about how your organization might handle the demands of the hybrid workplace? We've created a self-evaluation survey that provides any business with a Crestron Modern Work Readiness Score.

 

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