7 Must-Have Conference Room Tech Tools for Hybrid Meetings

December 19, 2023
Hybrid Work
7 Must-Have Conference Room Tech Tools for Hybrid Meetings

TL;DR Article Summary

Hybrid meetings, combining in-person and online participation, are growing in popularity, with 49% of employees attending.

  • Essential technologies for these meetings include advanced video conferencing systems (e.g., Zoom, Google Meet, Webex), meeting room and conference room scheduling platforms, and display technology.
  • Layout and design of meeting rooms, with flexible setups and potentially virtual reality elements, are critical for effective collaboration.
  • Tools such as digital whiteboards and project management integrations (like Miro, Mural, Asana) are key for real-time teamwork and collaboration.
  • AI technology and connectivity solutions in meeting equipment are vital for enhancing productivity and ensuring smooth information flow.
  • Successful implementation involves considering user-friendly interfaces, engaging remote participants equally, and scalability for future technology advancements.

Download our Checklist with quick tips to keep your in-person and remote attendees engaged and productive.

The majority of meetings in many organizations are hybrid now. According to a Livecareer survey, 49% of employees stated they attend hybrid meetings, compared to a quarter who attend only in-person or only online meetings. 

To combat the set of unique challenges that hybrid meetings can present, organizations increasingly turn to conference room technology to ensure smooth communication, collaboration, and engagement—irrespective of physical location. 

The right hybrid meeting room technology and equipment ensures teams scattered across a distributed environment can maintain high levels of productivity and connection. From immersive video conferencing setups to intelligent scheduling tools, here’s how technology offers innovative solutions to transform the hybrid meeting landscape.

Top Conference Room Technology for Hybrid Meetings

Unlike traditional in-office meetings, hybrid meetings span physical spaces and the virtual realm. That means you have both in-person and remote participants, and connecting them all together regardless of location is crucial. These seven key technologies can help bridge that distance:

1. Conference Room Scheduler

Hybrid meetings require both virtual and physical spaces. That means hosts need to set up a virtual conference room and book a physical conference room, and then ensure that all the participants receive the information they need to attend the meeting. That means providing the virtual meeting link to remote participants and conference room location to onsite participants.

A conference room reservation system like Skedda can make it easier for your employees and teams to book meeting rooms in your workplace. Images and descriptions provided on the platform can inform employees of the room’s suitability. Additionally, two-way sync integration with calendars allows employees to easily manage conference rooms and attendees from platforms they already use in their workflow, leading to fewer disruptions and missed information. 

2. Video Conferencing Systems

A robust video conference system is essential to erasing the boundaries between physical and virtual participants. That includes leveraging video conferencing platforms, high-quality cameras, microphones, and speaker systems to create an immersive experience for all. For example, Meeting Owl is a video conferencing camera specifically designed to support hybrid teams.

Video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Google Meet support both in-person and virtual attendance by offering features like screen sharing, breakout rooms, and webinar capabilities. Additionally, all-encompassing systems (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Google Meet) that integrate well with productivity tools employees are already familiar with can make adoption of the tech go more smoothly as well.  

3. Display Technology

Large screens and monitors, interactive displays, and advanced projection systems can facilitate clear communication, making presentations and collaborative work seamless. Large LED video walls make it easier to see remote team members, pick up on their non-verbal cues, and make them feel more included in hybrid meetings. Interactive displays with project management tools make it easier to quickly jot down ideas and make changes on the spot. 

While many companies may continue to use laptop screens and other traditional displays in their meeting spaces, more advanced solutions are emerging. For example, the Meeting Owl Pro can show a panoramic video of the physical room, which helps remote employees experience the conference room in the same way as those in the physical space. Some new tech even offer touch-free accessibility via voice and gesture control, which makes it more inclusive for people with diverse needs. 

4. Room Layout and Design

In hybrid meetings, the virtual and physical rooms should be configured to meet the needs of both parties. That’s where flexible room configurations coupled with acoustically optimized designs become essential to creating an environment conducive to effective hybrid collaboration and maximizing productivity for both in-person and remote participants. 

For your in-person attendees, access to a comfortable and well-equipped physical meeting room is key. That means providing ergonomic chairs, good lighting, and large enough desk/space to do work and move around if needed. And while you may not have as much control over your virtual attendees’ physical space, you can provide a virtual room for them that helps to mimic organic in-person interactions. 

By using virtual reality headsets and extended reality software, remote employees can share content and interact with avatars representing colleagues for enhanced immersion during crucial collaborative sessions. A solution like Remo, which is designed to simulate an in-person office, allows participants to move around a virtual space and interact with each other. 

5. Collaboration Solutions

Virtual collaboration tools allow everyone to demonstrate their ideas in realtime to help support hybrid brainstorming sessions. Organizations can use digital whiteboards and tools to make it easier for teams to work collaboratively on spreadsheets, documents, and brainstorming sessions, through a variety of apps. 

For example, whiteboards like Miro and Mural allow employees both in the office and working remotely to comment on and annotate documents in real time. Integration with project management tools like Asana, Trello, or Jira can enhance collaboration by allowing teams to seamlessly transition from discussions in meetings to actionable tasks.

6. Connectivity Solutions

Connectivity solutions bridge the gap between devices and ensure a smooth flow of information. Wireless screen sharing and bluetooth technology make it possible for participants to demonstrate work without being tethered to a wire or having to locate the appropriate adaptors. In addition to wireless sharing solutions, reliable and high-speed internet connectivity for all is essential to supporting video conferencing, file sharing, and other online collaboration tools. 

7. Artificial Intelligence 

Intelligence built into meeting room equipment can have a significant impact on the productivity and efficiency of hybrid meetings. Cameras with AI software built-in can automatically track a speaker as they move around a space and frame employees more effectively in a meeting app to improve engagement. Speakers and microphones with AI technology can eliminate excess noise, improve audio quality, and enhance understanding. 

Additionally, AI can be integrated with platforms to support note-taking and help with meeting facilitation. AI-powered transcription services like Otter.ai can automatically transcribe spoken words into text during the meeting, which can be shared as notes to all attendees afterwards and help with productivity. 

Key Considerations for Hybrid Meeting Conference Room Technology

Organizations are turning to platforms like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Cisco Webex, and Zoom for their unified communication solutions that integrate video conferencing, messaging, and collaboration tools. Many are also leveraging space management platforms like Skedda to help with conference room bookings to provide a seamless experience for hybrid meetings.

Here are four key considerations to consider when implementing conference room technology that help employees be more engaged and productive: 

Integration with Collaboration Tools

The main purpose of hybrid meetings is to give your distributed teams a chance to collaborate in real time. Seamless integration with popular platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams ensures that participants can leverage familiar tools to do that, enhancing the overall collaboration experience. These platforms are equipped with tools like real-time file sharing, annotation, and digital whiteboards that allow participants to contribute and engage actively. They help foster a collaborative environment regardless of physical location and take brainstorming sessions to the next level.

“Slack, Teams, Miro, Mural, Figma… you name it. These tools end up being really important in how teams actually collaborate asynchronously and synchronously. Digital is actually what stitches together distributed organizations.” - Brian Elliot, Product Exec and Co-founder of Future Forum 

User Experience and Accessibility

Hybrid meetings call for heavier technology use, which can seem daunting for some. That’s why leveraging user-friendly tech tools that are easy to implement and have accessibility features for diverse participants can help support wider adoption and promote a positive user experience. Intuitive interfaces ensure that both tech-savvy and tech-shy users can navigate technology effortlessly.

Additionally, incorporate tech training and onboarding for your employees to ensure greater adoption and reduce the amount of tech assistance needed. Keep in mind that people have varying levels of tech knowledge and different attitudes toward it. Comprehensive training programs and user onboarding sessions empower participants to harness the full potential of the technology at their disposal, making for smoother hybrid meetings down the road.

“The Clorox Company was just starting to use video conferencing. Over time, as it became more mainstream, we had to teach teams how to use that technology to connect with each other, including how to use the video conferencing technology to create better hybrid and virtual meetings within the company.” - Sacha Connor, Founder/CEO of Virtual Work Insider

Remote Participant Engagement

Hybrid meetings can lead to unequal participation where often in-person participants inadvertently dominate the conversation or leave out remote participants with side conversations. Therefore, it’s important to balance in-person and virtual participation, and be inclusive across diverse locations. Engaging virtual participants through interactive features like live polls, chat, and reactions enhances overall participation and fosters a sense of connection. Real-time Q&A sessions, breakout rooms, and polling tools create an interactive atmosphere, encouraging active involvement from both physical and virtual attendees.

Additionally, all participants can benefit from more unstructured time to interact with each other organically. That’s where virtual networking opportunities shine. Virtual networking spaces like Remo provide avenues for informal interactions, recreating the watercooler moments crucial for team bonding. 

“We make sure everyone has the technology to do their work. That means thinking about employees’ needs. Do I need to send you headphones? Do I need to do something onsite to ensure that when we’re having a hybrid meeting, everyone can be heard?” - Bethany Nicole Smith, Workplace Experience Specialist 

Scalability and Future-Proofing

Conference room technology serves as a bridge connecting participants across distances and creating a collaborative space where innovation thrives. In the dynamic landscape of hybrid meetings, technologies that can adapt to different platforms, evolve with advancements, and prove to be wise long-term investments are the keystones to a future-proof hybrid meeting setup.

With more employees now working in a flexible, distributed environment, it’s becoming harder for businesses to ensure everyone uses the same assets and tools during a meeting. Because of this, organizations should look to tech toolkits that are scalable and compatible with future technologies to ensure the positive return on these investments. 

It’s time to embrace the tools, overcome the challenges, and usher in a new era of hybrid meetings where technology is not just a support but a catalyst for success. That means leveraging a global space management platform like Skedda to streamline your conference room bookings. Create your free Skedda account to start scheduling and booking desks and meeting rooms today.

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