Virginia’s newest entertainment venue, Sandman Comedy Club. Located in a roomy 1940’s bank building complete with bank vault, the new venue houses an Elation lighting system of WW Profile HP™, Fuze Spot™, Colour Pendant™ and SixBar 1000™ luminaires that will be used for much more than just comedy.
Code3AV has been working with Michael and Carrie Sands on the new Sandman Comedy Club. For this installation, we integrated state of the art lighting, audio and video systems for this brand new performance space. The club opens 4/29, and tickets are available now! come check out this fun new entertainment venue in Richmond, VA! Who’s ready to get out there and have fun again?
It’s been over a year since I shut down our office for a “few weeks” last march. I had no idea at the time how long this would last, or what it meant for our small business. We had a lot of questions at that time. We have a lot of questions now, but we’ve also got some answers. Here’s what we’ve done so far, and here’s what’s been working and not working for us and the clients we serve.
We had some serious down time in the beginning of the pandemic. The first issue we had to solve was how to keep the team busy when everyone shut their doors. No one was letting us on site. All work was stalled or cancelled. We needed a way to make some kind of progress and be accountable for hours. We offered hours for specific certifications, and let the team pick what they wanted to go after. Show the cert – claim the hours. We divided and conquered every certification we could complete online. We focused on turning our company down time into opportunity as best as we could, which was only possible because of the PPP program. The biggest struggle we had here is that working and learning from home is hard when the kids are having to learn from home as well. Families with school age kids have had a tough year.
Process is everything. At Code3AV, when we look back at a problem and ask – “How did this happen?” It’s usually because we decided to bypass our process. I’ve become a firm believer in the importance of solid process. Throughout the last year, we needed processes that worked from the office and from home, and we needed to adapt quickly. What we learned: Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your processes, and don’t be a slave to process for process sake. If a process doesn’t serve your team, toss it. If it’s not efficient, tweak it. Our Managing Director began scheduling regular meetings where we dug into the minutiae of our processes. We continue to evaluate our processes regularly. This regular evaluation and review helps us with employee buy-in and it helps make our processes stick.
Our office space continues to be mostly closed today. Most of us continue to work from home. We realized pretty quickly that we needed some way to be able to collaborate and work as a team. We couldn’t just walk down the hallway to meet anymore. At first, we thought that just having Microsoft Teams available as a resource would be sufficient for our needs.
We discovered that when working from home, we tended to form silos – we were losing our cross team collaboration. We were losing some of our “secret sauce.”
To combat this, Code3AV has implemented what we call “the morning check-in.” Our team leaders join a teams meeting every morning. There is no agenda to this meeting. We simply discuss what we need from each other to be successful that day. Sometimes it’s only a few minutes long and sometimes it’s a good bit longer, but it helps us all to coordinate and focus on the tasks of the day. We turn our cameras on. We see each other’s faces. It’s also a chance for everyone to say what they need to say. Microsoft Teams has been a great tool for us, but we’ve found that we needed to be much more intentional now with communication. The morning check-in call may be here to stay at Code3AV.
As we emerge from the pandemic, I think Code3AV and our clients are finding that this new hybrid style of business meeting where some people are using meeting spaces in the office, some people are in remote offices, and others are at home or mobile, is just the way business is going to happen. It’s the way students are learning. It’s the way local governments are running. This new hybrid way is here to stay.
Code3AV has spent much of the last year working with our clients to build or adapt existing systems to include automatic camera switching with Teams and Zoom integration, closed captioning and streaming capability to bring all of these locations together and make it feel seamless to the participants, presenters and to the public. From a technology perspective – We’re talking about solutions that are hybrid, automatic and touchless.
Code3AV is many things, but more than anything, it’s a culture. We have a culture of playful teamwork, excellence in execution, and client satisfaction. Clients work with us and stay with us because of our culture. It’s the key to our success. We needed to find a way to keep promoting that culture from 6 feet apart. I still struggle with this one. Here at Code3AV everyone needs to participate to make it work.
We have a culture of pausing to celebrate our wins. It’s easy to get caught up in the machine and keep moving on to the next task. We’ve had socially distanced lunches outside. We’ve sent out care packages of snacks and online movie rentals to the Code3AV families, This year we ordered new company jackets for everyone. Last week we rented a movie theater and invited the office staff to see a socially distanced / limited capacity “Back to the Future.” We could only have 10 people there, but it was fun and it was my first time at the movies in over a year. It lifted my spirits for sure. I look for creative ways to encourage company pride, camaraderie, and positive attitudes. There’s a lot of darkness and loss out there right now. Leaders need to fight that darkness. Code3AV often comes together as a company to support good local causes. I’d like to encourage more of that this year as well. Nothing feeds the soul better than serving those in need. What has your company done to keep your culture alive?
At Code 3 AV, our focus is always on keeping things simple and easy to use. Many of the conference rooms we have built recently have had no need for a user interface of any kind. By installing occupancy sensors and detecting video sync from a laptop input, we have been able to make some of our more basic systems operate intuitively without any user interface at all. Devices power up, route signals and power down as they detect the user’s presence or actions. But, If your organization has a conference room with more than a couple of inputs, it probably has some type of interface for choosing which input to view or what level the volume should be. One of the most popular choices for conference room control is the touch panel. In my experience there are really three key elements to making sure a touch panel is easy and intuitive enough for anyone to walk in and use
Keep things familiar:
My first stop when I’m working on a touch panel for a new client is to look at any existing control interfaces they have for other conference or training rooms. If you already have a standard “Dashboard” for your conference rooms that you are used to, there’s no need to complicate things with something entirely different unless you are unhappy with what you have been using. Use your existing interfaces as examples of what you would like. If you are unhappy with what you’ve been using, use them as examples of what isn’t working for you. This might be a good time to talk about having those interfaces redone to match the new style being created for this new system. My next stop when designing a touch panel interface is always your web site. This will give me most of what I need to know regarding the style and aesthetic I should be trying to achieve. Most clients spend a long time making sure that the web site is a strong reflection of themselves. Keying off of these design ques is always a step in the right direction. Your existing web site often makes for a great example of the graphic design style you like, and you’ve probably already spent time making it easy for people to navigate it. Your touch panel has similar goals.
Limit the number of steps:
Keep it simple. The more steps you can automate in the process, the easier the system becomes for the user. I try to limit the steps to accomplish any task to 2 or 3 button presses. This seems obvious, but when every device in a system gives a hundred different options for how to do something, a programmer can often get caught up in offering flexibility over simplicity. Even complicated systems can be made simple if you focus on what’s needed.
Keep it focused:
The previous point leads right into this one. Define the activities that the system is really used for. Make sure that your interface focuses on making these activities simple. Don’t complicate an interface with too many choices. The equipment may be capable of all kinds of features and uses, but just because it can do all those things, doesn’t mean it needs to. If flexibility is required on occasion, ask for a super user page with all of the other flexible options and buttons, but keep the main interface clean and simple for the other 90% of the time. If there are more than 20 buttons on a page, it’s probably too complicated. 30 minutes spent with the programmer discussing what the system needs to do can save hours of time spent programming the system to do things it was never intended it to do, which can leave you with a system that’s just too complicated for users to operate.
Congratulations Steve Payne! Steve has been with Code3AV since we started. He manages our service department and is responsible for quality assurance and integration standards. We are excited to announce that he recently upgraded his CTS certification and passed the CTS-D exam!
Code 3 AV and strategic partner IRC completed two new camera systems for the Iowa State Legislature. These fully automatic systems switch to members automatically based upon who is recognized to speak by the IRC voting system. Click to see them in action!
Code3AV is working with the Virginia House of Delegates to refresh the technology in the chamber and committee rooms. Code3AV, has developed a solution using Ross, Taiden and Crestron to allow the Virginia House of Delegates to host remote and hybrid chamber sessions and committee meetings through zoom and teams.
Code3AV and our strategic partner IRC have completed a new audio system for the Ny State Assembly chamber. Code3AV worked with Audix to design a custom microphone solution just for this project, and now it’s available for everyone. Check out this article about the mics Audix designed for our project at the NY State Assembly.