When HB Communications decided to renovate its corporate headquarters, the audiovisual solution design firm’s executive team saw the opportunity to evolve its internal strategy for how they applied digital signage and collaboration technologies for their own organization.

“It was probably about four or five years ago that we started thinking about the project, because we’re an AV company bringing customers into our space, and we needed to be able to communicate our brand and market leadership,” says Dan Barron, director of brand strategy for HB. “We wanted customers to see how we apply technology in our own organization, that way they could get some inspiration for solutions inside their own organization.”

The result was a reimagined facility in North Haven, Connecticut filled with display and collaboration technologies designed to improve organizational communications and enhance the HB brand and customer experience.

A Truly Dynamic Video Wall

The centerpiece is The Hub, a large, multipurpose room that can be everything from a collaboration space and cafe/social area to the site for large internal and external events. The Hub has smaller displays and a pair of audio systems, but the focal point is a 32-screen (8 wide by 4 tall) narrow bezel Samsung LCD video wall.

HB’s internal creative services team designed a set of custom interfaces and supporting 4K content for the huge canvas, so that four different content modes can be seamlessly activated:

  • Event Mode for internal and external events, such as outside presentations from technology partners, talks by subject matter experts from the industry ecosystem or even community events
  • Presentation Mode for executive-driven staff assemblies and internal presentations
  • Environmental Ambient content such as 4K video sequences of waterfalls, snowfalls and motion artworks
  • Default Work Day Mode, a multizone dashboard that relays corporate communications, marketing messages, social media posts and subscription content such as weather and news

Barron says HB opted for Samsung’s video wall system to ensure the highest possible video quality. “We have a great creative team with strong design and cinema backgrounds. So when we go and we bring a bunch of 4K cameras out into the mountains or city to capture content, I’m highly concerned about making sure that it turns out the way we shot it.”

The Hub also has a Collaboration Nook, a soft seating area designed to enable casual, ad hoc meetings using a 65-in. Samsung display and a Vaddio Conference Shot. The setup enables Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) wireless content sharing, with participants able to push documents or videos to the screen without leaving their comfortable lounge seating.

Diverse Collaboration Options

A lengthy cross-departmental process that included developing visioning sessions, research, space analysis and technology mapping led to a network of environments and spaces around HB’s facility. These include:

The Wormhole: Featured in the hallway of their headquarters, the Wormhole is a live, 24/7 connection that enables casual conversations and ad hoc meetings between HB’s remote locations. The station uses a wall-mounted Samsung 46-in. curved display, paired with a Cisco Spark Room Kit that uses a tablet to power the connection.

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The Wormhole, says Barron, is a concept designed to connect colleagues detached by geography, with a live audiovisual connection tying three HB offices together. “I wanted something where, when people walk down the hallway, they can actually look inside the other HB or office and just either casually wave, or text somebody with something like ‘Hey, meet me at the Wormhole, quick.'”

The Universal Conference Room: The most conventional meeting space, Universal is designed to hold four to six people for meetings or working sessions. The focal point is a Samsung 65-in. display, supported by a Cisco Spark Room Kit and Cisco Touch tablet.

The Brainstorming Room: HB designed a work-intense space that enables heavy content sharing and remote collaboration, using Cisco Spark technology paired with dual 65-in. Samsung displays mounted on one wall. On a second wall, a Samsung 98-in. display uses T1V interactive, multi-touch software to enable brainstorming sessions that include multiple open documents, annotation and easy content sharing.

The Comfort Conference Room: A more private, closed-door version of the Collaboration Nook, the wood-accented Comfort Conference area has leather couches and feet-up lounge seating to make workers feel at home. The technology mix includes a Samsung 65-in. display and a tablet-controlled Cisco Spark Room Kit.

The Huddle Room: A casual booked or impromptu space that holds as many as four people, enabling quick conversations, content sharing and video collaboration with remote colleagues, business partners or customers.

“I get in sessions where we want to brainstorm, and that’s really all we want to do. So we built the room for brainstorming. And sometimes you want to casually chill and relax. We built a room just for that. Obviously, the main technology needs in each space are customized to the functionality of that room,” explains Barron.

A Future Work Environment

“We were just trying to create a feeling of an atmosphere that people want to be in, and that was a big part of the design plan,” says Barron. “Even though we are a technology company, the goals of the project went beyond that. It was really to create that future work environment.”

The renovated facility has had a strong impact on business activities and culture. “Customers come in and their eyes are opened up by the time they leave. They see the technologies and possibilities, and they say ‘I never thought about doing that,'” says Barron. “And that, really, was the goal. We wanted a big customer impact when people came in.”

Now, not only customers but employees, too, are excited by the revitalized space and signage. “It’s comfortable,” Barron affirms. “It’s a nice place to be.”

Learn more about the how huddle space solutions are transforming meeting culture across industries.

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Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes is a well-known veteran in the digital signage industry. He consults to some of the world’s largest brands on their digital signage strategy and technical needs, but also spends time mentoring start-ups. A former daily newspaper journalist, Haynes has for the past decade written a highly-respected blog about digital signage, Sixteen:Nine. Follow Dave on twitter @sixteennine

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