How Bridgewater Associates Empowers its Hybrid Workforce with Outdoor Zoom Rooms
As organizations develop different work models to enable greater flexibility and protect employee health, effective collaboration and communication between on-site and remote workers remains a key issue. Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, tackled these challenges head-on by creating outdoor Zoom Rooms where on-site employees could safely meet in person while creating a dynamic meeting experience for those off-site.
The team at Bridgewater shared some of the valuable lessons and insights they gained from the process of creating unique and safe meeting spaces and how they’ve managed to create an engaging meeting experience for both on-site and remote employees.
Be intentional with your design
Bridgewater’s team had never built an outdoor meeting space before. This unique challenge required them to know exactly how employees wanted to use these spaces and design for elements such as inclement weather and background noise from cars and birds.
“One of the biggest things we’ve learned is that you need to be very intentional about designing your meeting rooms and ensure it’s a very holistic design,” said Michael Srihari, Deputy Chief Technology Officer at Bridgewater. “You need to think about your software and hardware, but you also need to consider the room layout, its dimensions, how you’re going to use that room, and the meeting room presets that would best serve those use cases.”
Experimentation is critical
“There’s a wide range of technology you can use for conference rooms, but really reviewing it and testing different technology helps you find the solutions that fit your needs,” said Anthony Golia, Head of Productivity Development, Bridgewater Associates. “From there, you can develop standard room kits that you can amend to fit the specific needs of those rooms. For our outdoor space, that involved trying out weatherproof equipment, special housings, experimenting with noise-canceling microphones, and different connection options to find the right fit.”
However, experimentation doesn’t end once you’ve created your meeting space, especially if you’ve built a room in an unfamiliar environment or are experimenting with new setups.
“Once you have a setup, realize that it may need to evolve over time to better enable the attendee experience,” Golia said. “That may be technology or even extend to seating or both. In our case, we are changing some seating layouts to a U-Shape to make the experience more inclusive.”
After experimenting with a wide range of hardware for their outdoor spaces, the team at Bridgewater decided to use the following hardware to create their outdoor space:
Microphones – Shure MXA710W-2FT
Audio DSP / USB Interface – Shure P300
Amplifier – QSC SPA2-60 Amplifier
Speaker – JBL Control 67P/T
Display – Sunbrite SB-V-75-4KHDR-BL – 75″ Display
Camera – Huddly IQ Camera
Balance the in-person and remote attendee experience
“Creating equality in the meeting experience for on-site and remote is critical for a hybrid workforce, so we’ve been really focused on that for the future of our meeting spaces,” Golia said. “For example, we like to be able to see the in-meeting chat pop up so we can engage with remote attendees more easily. We added a second screen that is dedicated to displaying all types of content, including the in-meeting chat, so we can see how our remote attendees are engaging and ensure that no one misses anything.”
Include remote workers in your culture
“When you end the meeting and leave the meeting room, there’s no place for remote workers to catch up with their coworkers and chat, and that can be isolating for them,” said Hadley Haslegrave, Manager of Real Estate and Building Operations at Bridgewater Associates. “We’ve done a ton of Zoom happy hours and get-togethers on Zoom, and I think those will continue to be really important for the hybrid workforce. It creates a space for informal conversation, which helps to keep remote employees in the loop, and it also creates a space for personal connection, which is so important.”
Discover how our customers are using Zoom
To see Bridgewater’s outdoor Zoom Rooms, check out our customer stories page.