Effective meeting rooms are essential in the modern workplace
In this article we’re addressing the question as to whether it’s better to stick with a single “native” meeting solution like Microsoft Teams Rooms or to adopt a BYOD meeting (Bring your own device) strategy which allows you to host calls in any Video Conference (VC) platform. But first let’s set the context of why this is really important.
The days of commuting to a fixed office 5 days a week are gone. Most organisations operate a hybrid working policy where employees typically split their time between home offices and their main office. As a result, many organisations have redesigned their office space to be more focused around meetings and group collaboration, mixing formal meeting rooms with more informal collaboration or huddle spaces to suit different meeting types. And meetings with customers and partners that were once face to face may frequently be conducted by video conference meeting.
No matter how your organisation works, there will invariably be meetings with remote participants and that means your meeting spaces need to be fit for purpose and equipped with appropriate video conferencing capabilities. And every organisation is different so your choice of video conferencing equipment requires careful thought or you risk your meeting rooms becoming a barrier to successful work, rather than an enabler.
The good news is that meeting room solutions are getting better and better and there is plenty of choice. More good news is that there are expert AV Integrators, like MVS Audio Visual, to help you match the right solutions to your individual needs.
Why native meeting room solutions?
If your organisation uses a standard Unified Communications (UC) app like Microsoft Teams or Zoom and your customers and partners do likewise, then a “native” meeting room solution is almost certainly the way to go.
A “native” meeting room solution differs from BYOD in that it comprises dedicated room hardware with built-in, native VC software, typically controlled by a single tabletop touchscreen. Users can pre-book the room and simply walk in and tap once to start a meeting, then invite additional participants and share content. The room camera, mics and speakers are already connected and so there is no need to fiddle with settings. Users can just get on with their meeting, assured of a high-quality video meeting experience.
- Easy to use, standard experience in every meeting space
- Top quality video and audio
- Uses native app and standard interface users are familiar with
- Feature rich
- Out of meeting features
- Meeting room booking
- Wireless content sharing
- Digital whiteboarding
- Controlling the room peripherals with a mobile device
- Voice commands and proximity join
- Enterprise grade systems management tools
- Lack flexibility – you can’t have a fully featured call with other platforms and often an additional and expensive interoperability service is required for any connection at all
Why BYOD meeting room solutions?
If your organisation does not have a standard UC application, or if your customers and partners use a multitude of different VC platforms, then BYOD may well be a better alternative to native.
Instead of having a touchscreen controller in the room, your laptop becomes the brains of the meeting room. You connect your laptop to the meeting room peripherals (camera, microphones and speakers) either via a cable or wirelessly and use the software running on your laptop to open your meeting in whichever VC platform the meeting is using. N.B. If you use browser-based meeting software your meeting experience will be limited.
That flexibility in hosting multiple different meeting software types sounds appealing, but it does come with some downsides.
- You can use your meeting room equipment to connect with multiple meeting types
- You can often use existing hardware to build a BYOD meeting solution
- It places the burden of running the meeting on the user and a single laptop
- You can’t leave early without closing the meeting for others
- You can’t share content and take notes at the same time
- It requires a degree of technical ability to change the speaker and mic settings
- Getting this wrong can result in delays and a severely diminished experience
- It may involve cables (that can be broken), dongles (that can disappear) or software (that needs IT support)
- You lose many of the features available with a native room system e.g.
- Split content sharing across dual screens
- Intelligent speakers to identify speakers for meeting transcripts
A bit of both
From a meeting experience perspective there is no doubt that a “native” room system is better and more reliable. But when your customers are using different VC platforms the flexibility of a BYOD meeting set up is compelling. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other, so let’s look at some options available:
Direct Guest Join within “Native” room systems
Direct Guest Join (DGJ) is where a room system implements a browser-based connection to alternative platforms which support it. Your room controller provides an option to join a non-native meeting with browser-based controls and limited functionality, designed to optimise the room system for such an occasion. So, for example if you are in a Microsoft Teams Room you can simply use the touchscreen controller to click on the Zoom button to connect a Zoom meeting.
There is a slight loss of video / audio quality, and you don’t get all the features available from the natively installed apps, but it is the recommended approach by Microsoft and Zoom for occasional non-native calls.
Currently, Microsoft Teams supports Zoom and Cisco Webex, with GoToMeeting and Blue Jeans coming. At the moment Zoom only supports DGJ to Teams but offers an alternative method to join other meeting types – see below:
Zoom – Join other third-party meetings from a Zoom Room
In addition to Direct Guest Join to Microsoft Teams it is possible to join many other meeting types from a Zoom Room. Click here for more information
Wired BYOD add-ons
Wireless BYOD solutions
These wireless solutions allow the use of personal devices to connect to any meeting platform and meeting room peripherals, without the downside of having to use cables. The Mersive solution requires software to be loaded to your laptop. Barco has a similar option, but more typically customers use USB dongles as shown below.
Android BYOD solutions
More than one native room system
Lee & Thompson is a legal firm that specialises in the media industry. Whilst it uses Microsoft Teams as its collaboration tool internally, many of its customers are Zoom users, which made it worthwhile to invest in both. The solution we designed for them is pretty smart. They have a divisible boardroom which when divided is split into a Zoom Room and a Microsoft Teams Room. When it is opened up it can be used as either. Read case study
MVS Custom Solution
Some spaces have requirements beyond those discussed in this document.
As an example: The room requires 1 native room system, 1 native teams system, wireless BYOM, and wired BYOM, includes multiple displays, static and mobile microphones, and different use scenarios (e.g. divisible room, typical meeting, presenter/audience scenarios, etc)
Special consideration and dedicated hardware would be provided to make this scenario possible, and would require video, audio, and USB switching, signal distribution and management, and automation systems to ensure that they remain easy to use.
There’s a lot to consider once requirements become more complex, and a custom designed solution would be necessary to ensure the space meets the user’s needs.
Every organisation is different, so there is no single answer to what works best, but as a rule of thumb if you tend to use a single VC platform most of the time we would err towards a standardised, native room solution with some BYOD meeting capability.
But, to ensure that you get the right solution we always recommend speaking to an expert AV Integrator, who will take time to really understand your requirements and come up with the right solution.
Speak with an expert
If you would like to have a chat with one of our AV experts about your AV needs, please get in touch