What You (and Your Employer) Need for Remote Working

This year, an estimated 25 to 30 million Americans will work remotely at least one day a week. And why not? With smartphones, laptops and the proliferation of cloud networks and services, workers can be as connected and communicating as efficiently as if they were just a few cubes away. But working remotely isn’t about bathrobes, slippers and sofas. An effective and productive remote work arrangement requires the setup of a professional work space. Recently, tip site CheatSheet gave us some good tips on how to get the most out of a home office, including proper lighting, posture and room aesthetics to maximize productivity.

While setting up a great work environment is important to good efficiency while working alone, sometimes working from home still requires meetings, which is where video collaboration comes in handy. In order for remote workers to be effective, you need to have good AV on both sides of the connection. After all, there aren’t many things more harmful to an effective online meeting than a video conference where you can’t clearly see and hear both the home office and corporate headquarters. The remote worker is often calling into a meeting with coworkers, bosses or clients, and poor-quality audio and video communication greatly impedes the effectiveness of the meeting. Misunderstandings, constantly asking for statements to be repeated or dealing with jerky, out of sync video is confusing and distracting.

Whether using web conferencing or a dedicated video codec, an effective online meeting begins with good microphones, speakers, and cameras—both in the home office and the company conference room. For the remote worker, you may be limited in the technology you have available. In many instances, you only have the webcam built into your laptop or tablet and use the built-in mic in the laptop. However, you can ensure you have a good video call by selecting a well-lit room with a clean, professional space (no one wants to see your dirty laundry hamper sitting behind you). The room should also be quiet, with no barking dogs or other interruptions to derail your call. Finally, always use headphones when making a video call from your laptop. Using your laptop speakers virtually guarantees the sound will be picked up by the laptop microphone, giving rise to the dreaded killer of any online meeting: audio feedback!

On the conference room side, you can add technology that ensures online meetings are effective, even without requiring a great deal of cost, but the technology required depends on the space. For a simple two-to-three person huddle space, a web camera with a high-quality, built-in microphone is usually sufficient. However, a larger conference room space may call for more microphones to ensure everyone in the room can be heard. In this case, you can add a web conferencing mixer, along with several boundary microphones that don’t detract from the table.

For key conference spaces, such as boardrooms, you want to ensure you have maximum clarity and room effectiveness, so executives are able to communicate clearly on important calls. These spaces benefit from advanced digital signal processing (DSP) and wireless microphones for improved control over the audio in the space. They also require advanced video switching and room control, as these spaces often have high-end Video TeleConferencing (VTC) systems with professional Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras. The amount of AV equipment in these spaces can create a complex environment, requiring a simple way to control and manage the technology and the environment.

Do you work remotely? What technology do you use in your home office and conference rooms (and how well does it work)? Share in the comments!

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