Is Flexibility the Enemy of Reliability

Welcome to Sydney. Sweeping harbour views, shimmering skyline.

But it comes at a hefty price per square metre so you want to get the best return on investment from every space on that prized floor plate. Workplace technology delivers tangible benefits to businesses but design and implementation of this technology within the competing demands of available real estate are important factors. What you might need to consider are simple space strategies that can be employed to manage the compromise of flexibility and reliability

Dedicated Spaces. With clearly defined use cases a dedicated space can be designed to have a simple, intuitive user experience with little to no support required from the the business. In this scenario, a room delivers a predicable outcome each and every time. The furniture is not flexible, the room will have a single orientation, and depending on the required functionality the user interface will be simple, or in some case not required at all. Less is more and less is less. Less service overhead, less chance of damage to cables or being unplugged by “home HiFi heroes” as well as less down time.

Internal spaces should all fit within this realm. Staff should be able to confidently book a space, start their meeting on time, and trust in the technology to work. Guest Services need to be looking after your customers, not your team and these meeting rooms should take care of themselves.

These spaces can be delivered at a lower cost, (often higher quantities of smaller physical spaces) as the technology can be minimised and the user experience is repetitive. Often all that will vary is the size of the display

Flexible Spaces sit at the other end of the spectrum, these spaces are often situated in the premier position of the floor plate (glass, ambient light, and poor acoustics) and will often combine multiple rooms to achieve a large seminar style format. Each of these rooms needs to deliver independent functionality, separate to its role in the combined space. For example, while a room may operate as a stand alone presentation space in its own right, it may become part of a large scale conferencing space as it is joined to other rooms.

When POMT look at designing these spaces there are several items to factor in:

  1. Outcomes – Differing meeting styles require different technologies. For instance accommodating multiple layouts (Boardroom, Town Hall, Training Room) requires more flexible technology, like wireless technologies, multiple cameras, dedicated lectern points.
  2. Environment – Working with architects and builders to ensure room acoustics are considered, finishes are suitable for conferencing, and mechanical and electrical interfaces allow for the ability to moderate lights and blinds to accommodate multiple scenarios.
  3. Internal and External Support Mechanisms – Guest relations/IT Helpdesk/Dedicated On Site AV support capabilities and work-flows.

While flexible spaces can deliver value for money and allow businesses leverage a single space to deliver multiple scenarios, there is an inherent risk associated with multiple use cases and physical orientations for a single space. Cables will be disconnected, furniture may not be returned to its original locations and a more complex user interface will be required to facilitate the larger number of layouts.

These challenges can be met on two fronts:

  1. System design: by maintaining the user experience that is delivered by the dedicated spaces. Retain the same styles of inputs, the same User Interface, and the same look and feel
  2. Training: the POMT Learning and Development Team work hard to deliver a tiered training structure that suits
    1. Super users require deep dive training to ensure the “champions” of the workplace technology are able to support the business
    2. Support staff are required to operate the equipment every day. While they may not be traditionally tech savvy, the right training supported by the right collateral allows them to be confident in the system and their ability to support the meeting
    3. Everyday users are generally going to be supported by a super user or support staff when using a complex space, but should intuitively be able to navigate the system following their more regular use of the dedicated AV rooms

The moral of this tale? Don’t fear the Flexible Meeting Space.

But understand that there will be compromises to be made given its architectural layout and it will require a level of support within the business to ensure meetings are run effectively and efficiently. Oh and most often than not its going to treat you to a very nice view….

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