February 3, 2021

You Need a Media Wall. Here’s Why.

A great meeting room is the heart of your organization. It’s a place to come together, collaborate, and share both digital and analog information. And with a remote or semi-remote workforce here to stay, it also has to bring office-based and home-based team members together. How do you accomplish all that? A well-designed media wall will bring your meeting space into the digital age and support effective collaboration between your remote and on-site workforce.

Wait, What’s a Media Wall?
You may be asking, “what’s a media wall?” The term means different things to different people, but we’ll define it here as a wall within a space that houses monitors, cameras, lighting, speakers, and/or other technology to facilitate sharing of information and collaboration. A media wall blends the physical and digital seamlessly. In addition to monitors and smart boards, it may include web cameras and A/V equipment to bring remote and on-site workers together. Alternatively, a media wall may be intended primarily as a display for information or entertainment purposes.

Media walls have been used successfully in all kinds of environments, from the corporate board room to the classroom. Examples include:

  • Virtual meeting rooms.
  • Interactive display walls for retail, hospitality and financial services.
  • Smart walls for classroom instruction.
  • Lobby or patient room displays in healthcare.

NBS Steelcase Media Walls Examples

Media Walls and the Remote Worker (Or Student. Or Patient.)
Right now, media walls are more valuable than ever. Since COVID-19 hit in early 2020, a large percentage of office workers have been logging in from home. The pandemic accelerated a trend towards more flexible work arrangements that was already well underway. Many workers have discovered that they prefer working from home at least some of the time. At the same time, companies are exploring ways to save space and improve employee satisfaction by offering work-from-home options ranging from full time to one or two days a week.

As a result, we can expect that blended meetings with both on-site and remote participants will be the norm for many companies. A media wall can help bring people together from wherever they are. With the right technology, remote and on-site workers can work together as effectively as if they were in the same room.

Beyond the corporate office, the use of media walls for remote and virtual collaboration is on the rise in other areas as well. For example:

  • Teachers with hybrid classrooms combining in-person and virtual learning can use media walls to include both groups of students in instruction.
  • Media walls can support the growing Telehealth movement, allowing doctors and nurse practitioners to interact with patients virtually.

How to Build a Great Media Wall
Building a great media wall requires more than throwing a monitor up on a wall. Before you start purchasing technology, it’s helpful to start with some questions.

  • What is the purpose of the display? What will people be doing with the technology?
  • How many people will be in the room, and how far away will they be from the display?
  • Will everyone interacting with the technology be in the room, or do the needs of remote members need to be considered?

NBS Construction Solutions Specialist Fernando Sanjuan explains, “The purpose and user needs will drive the type of technology that will be included in the wall along with other considerations including the size and placement of displays and placement of other media elements, such as soundbars or microphones.” At the same time, the designer must consider factors such as the placement of lighting (so it does not interfere with screen visibility or cause distracting glare), cable routing (preferably hidden), and the supports or bracing required.

Media walls can be created by embedding media elements into a standard drywall-constructed wall. As an alternative, you may want to consider a modular wall system like V.I.A. by Steelcase. V.I.A. (Vertical Intelligent Architecture) can be used to divide a space, or it can be used as a façade on top of an existing wall, giving a plain wall a tech-savvy facelift. Media walls can be custom designed using a variety of surfaces (or “skins”) that allow for future flexibility, cleanability, writability and even backlighting. You can even use metal tiles to create a place to display physical documents using magnets. The possibilities are endless with this flexible modular media wall system.

Contact NBS to find out how you can integrate this idea into your work setting today! Email spacematters@yourNBS.com for more information or call (248) 823-5400 to set up a visit to any of our five showrooms and see media walls in action.