As COVID-19 restrictions are lifting across the country, business leaders are facing the questions of how to reopen safely, what is considered a clean, safe and healthful work environment, and how do we manage our technology systems?

These questions may warrant some unique considerations when it comes to meeting spaces such as board rooms, conference rooms, huddle spaces and similar. Certainly, social distancing can present some unique challenges in these environments – especially when the room’s audiovisual and tele/videoconferencing systems are taken into consideration.

In fact, your tele/videoconferencing setup is particularly vulnerable to unintended consequences.

As an example, many companies have been happily getting along with an omni-directional teleconference microphone and speaker sitting in the middle of their conference room table. You know the scene. Like sitting around a campfire, everyone is facing the center and occasionally leaning in toward the microphone to speak.

Is that a good idea going forward? Is it even possible with distancing? And what about that single camera at the front of the room? Is it going to pick up everyone in the new arrangement?

What about connectivity? To minimize the touch of common-use equipment, you may encourage participants to bring their own equipment (laptops, smartphones, etc.) for sharing presentations, documents and other types of digital information. This influx of devices will create a greater need for simultaneous, multi-device, multi-OS, wireless connectivity to a room’s presentation equipment. All of a sudden, those USB, USB-C, HDMI, DisplayPort cables and adapters are no longer just inconvenient – they’re a problem.

But there is good news. These COVID-induced issues can be resolved – some by simply upgrading equipment. But there are a few issues, like microphone placement(s), that would benefit from the expertise of a sound engineer. Who knows, the silver lining in all of this could be tele/videoconferences where people on the other end can actually (clearly) hear what each individual in the room is saying.

And that part about simultaneous, multi-device, multi-OS, wireless connectivity? This could also benefit from the experience and expertise of engineers who implement this type of capability on a daily basis. This too offers a potential silver lining. Just imagine eliminating the wasted time often spent trying to get different presenters’ information onto a monitor.

Equipment utilization should also be taken into consideration. With COVID-19’s negative impact on travel and videoconferencing becoming the communication tool of choice, your meeting rooms and tele/videoconferencing equipment will likely get a bigger workout than ever before.

With this in mind, is your equipment up to the task? Consider having an AV service team evaluate the condition of your technology before the rush. Maybe this is the time to consider a service contract to maximize system uptimes…or even system monitoring to spot weak components before they go dark.

Additionally, with increased use comes increased touch. Common-use tablets, touchscreen controls and monitors, keyboards, etc. all need to be on someone’s checklist for regular cleaning. Safely.

Safely means using accepted methods for disinfecting for COVID-related risks while not damaging screens and equipment. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides guidance on making office surfaces safe to touch. And now, leading manufacturers are providing guidance to ensure their equipment remains safe too.

It’s important to remember that many common cleaning products can destroy the special coatings on many monitors and touch screens. We highly recommend visits to your vendors’ websites for tips on cleaning their respective technologies, including:

Apple

Crestron

Microsoft Surface

We wish you the best as we all go about adapting our businesses to whatever the “new normal” turns out to be. Let us know if we can help bring some technology silver linings into your reconfigured meeting spaces. Or even help you in the reconfiguration process itself. And, of course, we can cover all of your system service needs as well.

As for the regular cleaning of your equipment, well, that’s all you. Sorry.