Many of us have adapted to working remotely because of the Covid-19 pandemic. And some of us are “co-working” with our spouses, partners or roommates. Then there are those who are doing all of the above while home schooling our kids. It’s not what most of us expected to be doing right now, but here we are! Meeting with our other remote coworkers via video conference has become our new normal.
Isn’t it about time to up your video conferencing game? Here are a few tips to consider that can make it a better experience for you and for your fellow conferees.
First, what’s your internet speed? Speed is important for the best quality sound and video, which makes meetings more effective (and less frustrating). You can test your internet speed by going to www.speedtest.net. For one to two devices with minimal video streaming and lower quality video conferencing you need at least 25Mbps download. If your partner or spouse are also using the internet for video conferences and your kids are simultaneously doing schoolwork or playing video games online, you might need to upgrade your internet speed. Speeds of 50 to 100Mbps are more common these days and very affordable. Contact your provider to see what options are available for you. It may be less expensive than you think, and the increased speed will dramatically improve the quality of your video conferences.
Lighting, lighting, lighting! Consider the lighting in the room where you “meet” via web camera. The best scenario is to face a window (natural light is the best!) or position a lamp or other light source in front of your face. The worst thing to do is to sit with strong light behind you, and no strong source lighting your face. The people you’re meeting with will see your dark, undistinguished form, surrounded by glowing light. That may be best if you’ve just gotten out of bed and are still in pajamas. But that’s for you to decide… Another tip–it’s also nice to have ambient light on in the room so that walls and objects behind you are visible. You can check out how you look to others in almost all video conference applications.
And what about sound and sound quality? There are many options available both for how you hear, and for how they hear you. Earbuds—either wired or Bluetooth—work well and the microphones on earbuds are generally excellent. The batteries in wireless earbuds don’t stay charged for long, but should make it through a short meeting. Otherwise, Bluetooth headphones from Bose or others work well and keep a charge for much longer. You may be happy using the speakers on your laptop or desktop, but it’s a good idea to purchase a USB microphone (by Jabra, or others) so that others can more clearly hear you. These microphones can be positioned near you and away from your computer speakers for better sound clarity. You might also think about ways to reduce any echo that others may hear. Hard surfaces like walls, ceilings and floors can be bad for acoustics during video conferences. Placing a rug on the floor in the room where you “meet” is a quick helper.
Last, if your webcam or laptop with built-in camera is more than a few years old, a newer, better camera may be in order. Webcams by Logitech and others are great and simply plug in to a USB port. Check out the reviews of cameras on Amazon or elsewhere before you buy. Regardless of whether you’re using a built-in camera, the camera on your tablet or phone, or a webcam, be sure to position the camera so that it’s at your eye-level or a bit higher. You’ve watched others who place their camera on the desk providing a great view up their nostrils. Don’t let that be you.
From-home video conferences don’t have to be amateur hour. Impress your friends, co-workers and maybe even your boss with these simple tips.
Today’s workforce is diverse and represents people from all backgrounds and abilities. Companies that create accessible workplaces demonstrate values of respect, inclusion, and equity for all of their employees and customers, as well as public visitors. In addition, government regulations set forth by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the 2010 Standards for Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities: Title III require compliance from many companies.
When it comes to achieving certain critical items for accessibility, Connectrac provides safe, cost-effective solutions that have a positive impact on workplace safety and the range of occupants.
In the Clear
Open-office environments remove many common barriers such as doors, partitions and walls that can be an issue for those with mobility devices. Doors and hallways must maintain certain width clearances for wheelchairs, especially in areas where anyone from the public may enter. Unobstructed hallways are particularly important for people with visual impairments. Carpeting helps to dampen sounds in open offices, but it can also pose an obstacle to accessibility unless it follows ADA guidelines.
Getting power and data to the center of open office spaces can be a challenge, however. Extension cords through the space are trip hazards and they hinder wheelchair movement. Fortunately, Connectrac solutions were carefully conceived and fabricated to bring electricity and data cables to deep interior locations while maintaining an inclusive environment.
Connectrac’s ADA-compliant solutions include:
Regardless of legal requirements, measures that welcome employees and customers of every ability in your space show you respect their dignity and basic rights. Properly arranged open offices make it easier for all employees to embrace their highest level of independence and participate fully, whether they have a disability or a temporary physical setback. Connectrac is ideally designed to help you offer employees a comfortable, safe, and fully functioning environment to support your culture of equal and fair access for all.
Aspen Group developed a unique niche in the professional services industry with its ministry-focused planning, design and construction for new church facilities, additions and renovations. Its goal is to create facilities that radically enhance ministry effectiveness. As a result, Aspen Group’s clients are the most innovative and effective churches and faith-based organizations in the United States.
“These organizations function very differently from traditional, sacred space church designs,” notes Joseph LaPaglia Jr., Aspen Group’s Director of Cost Modeling & Strategic Partnerships. “Accordingly, Aspen Group is building spaces for people to gather and connect, and all of these spaces require electrical power to furnishings in order to make them function.”
Aspen Group sees Connectrac as an effective solution for their clients’ non-traditional space needs in the digital age. The high demand for power is similar to that of commercial interiors and providing easy access to power is a constant discussion topic when Aspen Group works with clients.
To create a living example of Connectrac’s seamless integration, Aspen Group incorporated Connectrac solutions in the recent renovation to its corporate headquarters. The renovation area consisted of all new furniture systems, seating and collaboration groups, open ceilings, and conferencing areas, along with a new interior design library.
Aspen Group considered floor boxes, raised floor solutions, core drilling the slabs and running conduit through the ceiling space of the tenant below before it selected Connectrac as the preferred solution.
“Our traditional solution has been to cut the floor open and bring power to the needed locations,” LaPaglia says. “However, with our partnership with Connectrac, we now have a way to get power to floating furniture groups and collaboration areas in the middle of very large gathering spaces at the modern church.”
Aspen Group utilizes AutoDesk Revit and Enscape when designing and laying out all of its renovation projects. For the office renovation design solution, the team utilized 4 of the 10 furniture lines it carries. The Connectrac shop drawings made from the team’s furniture layout served as the design and construction guideline.
“The design solution was to place Connectrac on the floor with the decorator cover strip showing and the carpet butting up to the Connectrac system,” LaPaglia explains. “We also used a vertical application of Connectrac to go down the wall and bring power and low voltage to all the areas.”
Connectrac’s Under-Carpet solutions are being considered for phase two as more communication products are being added to the corporate office. “The Connectrac solution will provide great design flexibility for us and an innovative solution,” adds LaPaglia.
Authentic passion for their clients’ mission, a trustworthy team, and a proven process helps Aspen Group offer its clients a better-way-to-build approach. Connectrac’s quality and exceptional customer service dovetail beautifully with this approach.
“The solution was excellent and product support was first rate,” LaPaglia says. “The product we wanted was readily available and installation was easy.”
Much like the changing landscapes of commercial interiors, facilities for churches and faith-based organizations need solutions that transcend yesterday’s limited systems. Connectrac’s easy access to power and data furnish needed practical applications, and its ability to maintain clean design lines helps promote a sense of welcoming and communal rapport.
“The final product looks great!” LaPaglia asserts. “It was the most flexible, cost effective solution for providing low voltage and power distribution while maintaining the architectural look we required.”
Keeping people healthy in the workplace is important for employee retention, productivity, and minimizing your company’s healthcare costs. More than a decade of research shows that companies reap benefits when they encourage employee health, and certifications like WELL, LEED and Green Globes all offer guidance and recognition for these efforts.
Connectrac®solutions make it simple to implement several important strategies to safeguard and promote wellness in the workplace.
Sitting at a desk all day is dangerous to employee health. Physical inactivity has been linked to type 2 diabetes, stroke, dementia, depression, and some forms of cancer. In addition, a 13-year study from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana found that Americans who sit for most of the day are 54% more likely to die of heart attacks. And studies show that employees who exercise regularly are 50% more likely to have high productivity than their counterparts. While exercise clearly affects people’s health outcomes, morale and performance, providing on-site areas for it can be problematic within the confines of an existing building.
One of Connectrac’s strong suits is allowing for quick transformations of space. Because Connectrac can run power and data to flexible furnishings in the center of a large open space or conference room, it becomes easy to change out the space for activities such as morning yoga or afternoon aerobics. Whether you choose an underfloor or in-carpet system, Connectrac’s streamlined low-profile remains inconspicuous for a variety of activities.
Connectrac can also help you revive a deep interior space that doesn’t have electrical capacity into an activity zone with systems that bring power to fitness equipment such as treadmills or a monitor for streaming exercise programs.
Each individual has their sweet spot for the perfect temperature, and it’s rarely the same for everyone. But thermal comfort is essential: it affects concentration, productivity and workplace satisfaction. In fact, providing the means for employees to have individual thermal comfort devices like personal fans and electric space heaters at their cubicle is so important that WELL made it a criterion in its certification. Depending on your space layout, this could mean accommodating additional outlets for electric devices, especially in central open-office areas.
Connectrac can supply the power to meet employees’ thermal needs and give individual users control over their immediate environment ‘s temperature and air flow. In addition to gains in performance and reduced absenteeism, thermal comfort leads to fewer complaints and better attitudes.
Core drilling through the building materials is a common default for companies looking to create a cabling pathway for power and data. This alternative is not only costly, it can also raise workplace health concerns. Core drilling can release dust particles into the air, which may cause allergic reactions, respiratory tract irritations, or even asthma attacks. The work must be carefully contained to reduce exposure to airborne particles, even after the work is complete.
Moreover, core drilling is loud. Acoustic comfort is another factor in providing a high indoor environmental quality. Sounds, such as mechanical equipment within an enclosed space, have been shown to hinder productivity, focus and memory retention in workplace occupants. With Connectrac, the delivering power and data cables is clean and quiet, and the work can take place during the day without any negative effects on employee wellbeing.
Employees are the number one asset of any organization, and companies can play an important role in supporting their health. Gains in employee wellbeing, productivity and positive morale benefit everyone involved. Thanks to Connectrac, you have new ways to stretch your options and how your employees can thrive in the workplace.
Offering customers turnkey workspace design and installation is a point of pride for Kentwood Office Furniture. Much like Connectrac, Kentwood works with customers to make the most of their existing floor plans and current locations. Kentwood representatives understand the balance between form and function, and they help to create aesthetic interior designs that fit a business’s employee needs, work style and budget. Connectrac’s range of solutions pairs beautifully with these goals.
At Kentwood’s Grand Rapids office, a showroom remodel has been in the works for several years. As Kentwood officials discussed alternatives, they were keenly aware of the challenges they faced with the remodel. The building is an industrial structure, yet it would need to accommodate workplace options suitable for today’s demanding work environments.
“Although we would have loved to consider raised floors to meet connectivity needs, it wasn’t an option in our budget. We needed to support our design strategy including areas of collaboration and open plan,” explains Adriana Bylsma, Kentwood’s VP of Branding, Design and Workplace Strategy. “Connectrac was an ideal solution. It was easy to install and was an economical solution to power.”
As a furniture dealer, Kentwood wanted to take advantage of its showroom remodel to increase sales and product knowledge of the Connectrac system. Because customers’ needs vary, Kentwood elected to provide a few solutions on view for customers to consider which ones might blend into their own workplaces.
“We wanted to showcase a couple different applications, so we have the under-carpet wireway in the conference room and the in-carpet wireway in our main area,” explains Bylsma. “This allows us to show our customers applications that are actually in use every day.”
In Kentwood’s conference room, they ran Connectrac to Spec Furniture’s Tailgate Table. In the open area, Connectrac fastened to Trendway’s sustainable Volo walls; and in the front of Kentwood’s showroom, the company used Connectrac to bring power and data to a National WaveWorks reception desk.
Practicality, simplicity and completeness are core values of Kentwood, and Connectrac’s installation process ticked every box. “The installation process was great!” Bylsma recalls. “Our Connectrac representative was on site and we had a pre-install meeting with our electrician. The install went very smoothly.”
Kentwood is focused on providing an exceptional customer experience from start to finish, and the company expects the same from its business partners. Connectrac’s flexibility continues to impress. “It works out great for our new showroom layout and gives us the freedom to reconfigure it in the future, unlike core drills,” says Bylsma.
In its quest to offer customers innovative trends in the office arena and help keep workplaces vibrant, Kentwood finds Conectrac effectively delivers power and data while maintaining the design strategy. Bylsma notes, “Connectrac stands out thanks to its versatility and clean aesthetic.”
January 1 marked a New Year with 2020 as well as a new decade. Technology – more than any other sector – is undergoing rapid acceleration and transformation. Across the commercial interiors industry, access to power and data have been in high demand. Technological advancements will only heighten this need. Fortunately, Connectrac can help you access these advancements in flexible, attractive and cost-efficient ways.
Intel says technology is amplifying thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and video upscaling. In 2020, many companies like Microsoft will offer new digital devices and introduce foldable dual-screen devices.
New technologies and integrated platforms help employees capture and use information to enhance productivity, creative thinking, and decision-making. Furthermore, these technologies can improve efficiency betweenemployees and promote an optimal customer experience. Innovations only work, however, if they are accessible where and when employees and customers need them. With Connectrac solutions, location possibilities abound for connectivity in virtually any commercial interiors setting.
Today’s employees want choice in where they perform tasks, and variety in the workplace is crucial. Whether it’s collaborating in a social setting; offering sophisticated digital information to a customer on the airport concourse, showroom floor or hotel lobby; or utilizing A/V, streaming and virtual capabilities in the center of a conference room, employees are on the move. That means their access to power and data must be fully operational wherever they go.
In addition, client perception of a company’s surroundings can have a huge impact on instilling confidence. An office in visual disarray with electrical cords and data cables running to perimeter walls creates trip hazards and an unprofessional impression. And if your clients “drop by” through video conferencing or another form of virtual meeting, it’s imperative that you have a reliable source of power and data to keep the conversation going.
Connectrac was designed and developed as an agile response to both of these needs. Our solutions seamlessly provide you with untethered power, data, and A/V connections wherever and whenever the supply is needed.
Adapting to current and near-future technological demands can be daunting, but Connectrac makes it easier for you to stay at the forefront. Unlike expensive and disruptive core drilling and concrete slab trenching, Connectrac’s cost-effective wireways can be incorporated seamlessly into your commercial interior space while maintaining a productive work environment.
Flexibility to respond to coming changes is where Connectrac excels. Constantly shifting technology means that what you implement tomorrow may need to support more power and cabling by the end of the year. And as your business grows, your space layout needs change too. With Connectrac, you can quickly alter a space, scaling up to exactly what you need at any given time. With Connectrac in your corner, your commercial interiors space can ride the wave of technology and change, wherever the future may take you.
At Connectrac, when one of our team members has something exciting to celebrate, we all have something to celebrate. We are thrilled to announce that last month, our very own Stephen Reed successfully became an official citizen of the United States! Everyone at Connectrac is so proud of how hard Stephen has worked to accomplish this goal.
Pictured from left to right: Eric Storm, Steve Batchelder, Stephen Reed, Clint Strong
“I was very happy to share the moment of Stephen Reed’s naturalization as a US citizen,” said Clint Strong, CEO of Connectrac. “British-born Stephen is not only an important part of our Regional Management team, he’s also a great mate to all of us who work with him. I don’t have the words to tell what a momentous event it is to become a US citizen. All of us at Connectrac welcome Stephen as a full-fledged member of our national community. Cheers!”
Stephen joined the Connectrac sales team in February 2018 as our Regional Manager for Texas. He originally hails from England but came to America in 2013 to marry his then-fiancé, Kimberly. They had initially met in the UK many years earlier, and in 2012 they both felt ready to take their relationship to the next level.
“It was at that point,” Stephen explains, “we talked about sharing a life together rather than across all the miles that separated us.”
Stephen officially passed his citizenship test this year in mid-November and celebrated a week later at a ceremony that took place at the Plano Event Center in Plano, Texas. The event lasted about two hours and included nearly 900 applicants from 80 different countries.
Pictured from left to right: Trina Cedeno, Stephen Reed, Kimberly Reed
Stephen was accompanied to the ceremony by his wife, Kimberly, and stepdaughter, Trina. Several members of the Connectrac team also attended the celebration, including Clint Strong, CEO; Steve Batchelder, Director of Sales; and Eric Storm, Key Account Manager.
According to Stephen, “My experience was made all the better for the wonderful support and congratulations I received from my colleagues at Connectrac.”
Great job, Stephen, for achieving this impressive milestone!
A big part of our business is matching you with the right solution to meet your needs. Now, we’ve found a great match for our company – one that expands the range of solutions we offer you.
Connectrac is pleased to announce that we’ve joined Legrand®, North and Central America (LNCA). Connectrac and Legrand are a great fit, as we share core values of innovation, sustainability and diversity. And with Legrand’s global reach and extensive product portfolio, you stand to gain the most from this new alliance.
From our inception in 2005, Connectrac has built a reputation for excellence witheasy-to-implement, cost-effective, flexible floor-based power and cabling systems. We committed ourselves to innovations that make your life easier, serve occupant needs, and maintain the integrity of your design and buildings.
That commitment is stronger than ever. The same talented teams of design, customer service, and support professionals that you’ve come to rely on remain right here to create premiere applications and offer trusted advice. And these services will be complemented by Legrand’s vast resources, best practices, tools, and new product offerings.
By joining forces, Connectrac and Legrand offer more comprehensive services and solutions to enhance your commercial and institutional spaces.
Connectrac continues to serve architects and designers, facility managers, furniture dealers and occupants to expertly meet your power, data and communications needs. Thanks to our relationship with Legrand, you’ll also have access to their large and growing portfolio of high-profile products and brands in the design, electrical, lighting, and AV space. This added capacity complements our ability to keep pace with ever-evolving technology and helps us tailor solutions that benefit your interiors space in multiple ways.
We’re thrilled to bring this depth of new products and resources to you. If you have any questions about this alliance or your project, please just give us a call!
WEST HARTFORD, CT., October 22, 2019 – Legrand, North and Central America (LNCA), today announced it has acquired Connectrac, a leader in the development of flexible floor-based cable management solutions that bring power, data and communications to commercial interior applications. LNCA has a strong expertise in power distribution and cable management and adding Connectrac to its portfolio gives the company the ability to reach additional market segments as well as a platform to expand their ecosystem in commercial interiors.
For Facility Managers and Planners in particular, this means Connectrac is now part of a large and growing portfolio of interiors-related Legrand products and brands like adorne (fine light switches, outlets and more), Wattstopper (lighting controls and building systems), OCL (unique custom lighting), Pinnacle (architectural lighting), Chief (display and other mounts), and Wiremold (furniture power devices, cable management solutions, floor boxes, poke-thru devices and more). Also within the Legrand family are many of the best known A/V brands along with outdoor charging stations and power access options by Wiremold.
Legrand has a rich history in innovating in new spaces, and Connectrac brings new open space product solutions designed for flexible work areas. This also supports Legrand’s on-going initiatives to build relationships with architects and designers, end users, and furniture dealers for a range of commercial interiors applications.
“Flexible access to power is more critical than ever before, given the high volume of mobile devices and the desire to connect from anywhere in the space – not just near the walls” said John Selldorff, President and CEO of Legrand North and Central America. “The acquisition of Connectrac allows us to bring together a unique set of solutions, designed to meet the needs of building owners and occupants at all stages of the building lifecycle.”
Founded in 2005 by licensed architect Clint Strong and Desiree Edwards, Connectrac offers products with the flexibility to meet the demands for new technology connectivity while maintaining the aesthetic and structural integrity of the building.
“We are excited to be joining Legrand and the opportunity to deliver more comprehensive solutions to our customers,” said Clint Strong, Co-Founder of Connectrac. “Legrand’s organizational depth, global reach, and extensive product portfolio will provide us with the resources and tools to develop new product offerings and solutions that are more valuable to our customers and strengthen our position as a leader in the commercial interiors market.”
For more information, visit www.legrand.us.
About Legrand and Legrand, North and Central America
Legrand is the global specialist in electrical and digital building infrastructures. Its comprehensive offering of solutions for use in commercial, industrial, and residential markets makes it a benchmark for customers worldwide. Drawing on an approach that involves all teams and stakeholders, Legrand is pursuing its strategy of profitable and sustainable growth driven by acquisitions and innovation, with a steady flow of new offerings—including connected products stemming from Legrand’s global Eliot (Electricity and IoT) program. Legrand is one of the most sustainable companies in the world, as ranked by the Corporate Knights, and is committed to achieving carbon, water, and waste reductions in its operations, deepening its community relationships, and continuously improving the environmental profile of its products. Legrand reported sales of around $7.1 billion (USD) in 2018. Legrand has a strong presence in North and Central America, with a portfolio of well-known market brands and product lines. Legrand is listed on Euronext Paris and is a component stock of indexes including the CAC40, www.legrand.us.
Connectrac® wireways are the best floor-based cable management solution for bringing power, data and communications from the wall to all interior commercial applications. Connectrac offers the flexibility to meet the demands for new technology connectivity while maintaining the aesthetic and structural integrity of the building – all without the expense and inflexibility of other conventional methods. For more information about Connectrac, visit www.connectrac.com
Director, Corporate Communications