Nov 28 2023
Digital Workspace

Technology Is Turning Conference Rooms into Hubs for Seamless Collaboration

Augmented reality could eventually close the gap between virtual and in-person work experiences.

With the opening of its Workplace Innovation Lab, the General Services Administration seeks to better understand how hybrid work and the deployment of communication technologies will impact its employees.

Located in Washington, D.C., the WIL takes up 25,000 square feet inside GSA headquarters and is equipped with access control and onsite security personnel. Cisco’s conferencing room systems are integrated throughout the space and are fully interoperable with products from vendors such as Microsoft and Zoom, satisfying the need for vendor-agnostic solutions.

A new take on collaboration also considers how conference rooms of the future will be outfitted, including with technology that puts in-office workers and virtual participants on equal footing. The thinking is, for people who want to come to the office, it should be designed to meet today’s needs — becoming a magnet and true hub for seamless collaboration.

"Delivering great hybrid work experiences requires a holistic solution with technology capabilities that work seamlessly across networking, security and collaboration," says Javed Khan, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Collaboration.

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Technology Makes Meeting Spaces More Collaborative

At minimum, conference rooms must be video-enabled because at least one attendee will be remote in 9 of 10 meetings, Khan says.

"In addition to conference rooms, offering smaller spaces such as ideation areas, hot desks and jump rooms for quick meetings combines the in-person collaboration benefits with the privacy and quiet of being at home," he adds.

Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program authorization is required for any cloud service provider that has developed a cloud offering designed to work with an agency.

Whenever an agency shares sensitive data in the cloud, it must adhere to FedRAMP standards, which focus on confidentiality, integrity and availability of federal information and include 325 control requirements for Moderate Impact–level security.

Zoom for Government obtained FedRAMP and Department of Defense authorization because that’s the best way to help agencies support hybrid work, with total cost of ownership being an important consideration, says Matt Mandrgoc, head of public sector at  .

"We see visual collaboration on a canvas like Zoom Whiteboard as an emerging pillar of effective hybrid work, which is a must so everyone can see and contribute to the board — even if they’re remote," Mandrgoc says. "As spaces evolve to support these highly collaborative meetings, technology must adapt."

One advantage of digital whiteboarding is that it’s available on every device, even after the session ends, Khan says.

"The Webex Whiteboard app is unified across devices, mobile and laptops and stored directly to the users," he says. "That same whiteboard being ideated live in the conference room can also be accessed later and worked on asynchronously."

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Augmented Reality Is the Future of Hybrid Work

GSA uses surveys to collect feedback and adjust technology to meet users’ changing needs, the agency said in a statement.

"GSA offers a full suite of virtual meeting and videoconferencing solutions to connect employees regardless of location," the statement reads. "Through polls, breakout rooms, chat, video and digital whiteboard capabilities, employees can connect and collaborate from any location.”

The agency is also exploring the use of augmented reality to virtually walk through building spaces and plan layouts and changes.

To ensure that experience is mirrored in hybrid situations, Cisco is working on an innovative, next-generation meeting solution, the Webex Hologram, that goes beyond flat-screen videoconferencing to offer truly immersive experiences, Khan says.

"We believe AR is the next step toward closing the gap between the virtual work experience and in-person collaboration," he says.

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