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The Challenges of Flexible Working and Effective Collaboration

May 25, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 154

One of the biggest changes seen in business today is the physical office space in which we work. Even twenty years ago many of us were tied to a specific desk or workstation by the filing cabinets alongside it, in which our entire library of business data was stored. Developments in technology, including shared computer workspace and cloud solutions, give us access to that data across many platforms, effectively meaning we can work from any device anywhere, and thus rendering the traditional office space redundant. However, in these days of remote and mobile working and global collaboration, the bigger challenge for many businesses is devising meeting rooms that allow people to join the discussion wherever they are working, without having to make compromises.

Because of the structure of many businesses, these meeting rooms need to be designed to acknowledge that flexible working means not everyone at the meeting will actually be in the meeting room. Audio conferencing has been used for many years, but conversation without body language is often misunderstood. A better solution is video conferencing, but there's still the risk that communications are limited to one-way presentations with few opportunities for non-presenters to contribute.

Perhaps the best option is to install SMART Board interactive whiteboards or displays in meeting rooms. SMART Boards offer the ease of use of a whiteboard, combined with the functionality of a computer. They're ideal for allowing companies to visually collaborate on projects because they have intuitive software that makes it easy to share information, capture ideas and determine next steps. SMART Boards feature virtually unlimited digital whiteboard space, the ability to write notes over any application, options for saving and sharing work and integration with Microsoft Exchange. SMART Boards provide a focal point for participants in the meeting room, and also enable remote participants to join in via SMART Boards in a different office. Home, remote and mobile workers can also fully participate in the meeting too, either by using tablets and iPads to write on the same board at the same time, or through use of a SMART Podium interactive pen display that sit on the desktop. When you combine SMART Boards with audio and video conferencing, you develop a really powerful system that enables participants to hear and see each other, whilst collaborating on the same content together at the same time.

At a recent 'round table' discussion about flexible working, one participant from an energy company outlined exactly how data, audio and video conferencing has enhanced the way they work: "When designing a new IT system, we tried to create a team with an engineer from each site, but the project fell apart because we only communicated by phone, email and video conferencing. We could interact to a degree, but it was basically sending a PowerPoint presentation around and then discussing it. When we're trying to discuss something technical, somebody giving a PowerPoint presentation doesn't get the interaction we need from the remote site. We still need to have the whiteboard experience so that ideas can flow and be exchanged."

Jon Knight is the Managing Director of Smarter Interactive, a leading UK supplier and installer of interactive whiteboards, digital signage and video conferencing solutions. See:

Source: EzineArticles
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