Cable management 101: An organized meeting room
You walk into the meeting room 5 minutes before the scheduled start. Plenty of time to prepare and set things up before the meeting starts, you think. But wait, you forgot one small detail – your meeting room is always a mess; a big tangle of power cords, extenders and meters and meters of different connection cables. It’s quite a challenge to find out which cables are the right ones and what goes where. Suddenly, 5 minutes seem like a very short time to get everything ready.
If that scenario seems familiar to you, don’t worry. You just belong to the majority of companies who do not have an active cable management plan at the workplace. We’ve written a series of Cable Management 101 guides to:
- Raise awareness about the potential hazards of unorganized cables
- Provide information about cable management options if building or furnishing a new meeting room
- Give an overview of cable management solutions that can be implemented in an already-furnished room
Plan your cables before furnishing and equipping your meeting room
A surefire way of ensuring that your meeting room does not end up looking like a cable jungle is to plan ahead when building, furnishing or equipping your meeting room. While it is easier said than done, it is substantially easier to have a tidy meeting room (and keep it that way) if you have planned every aspect of it in advance. However, if you’re thinking “Yeah, that’s too late for me”, feel free to skip to the next section, where we give more information about cable management solutions you can purchase and install even today.
Performing a cable planning exercise involves asking yourself the following questions:
- How many pieces of equipment will be installed in the room?
- Where will the different equipment be located in the room?
- How many power sockets will you need and where should they be located?
- What type of cable connections (and how many) will you require to connect devices?
- How long do different cables need to be?
- Approximately how many extra power sockets will you need to accommodate people bringing their own devices in the meeting room?
- Can we purchase equipment that serves multiple purposes to decrease the amount of necessary equipment?
- Can we choose a wireless alternative to some equipment?
All these questions can help you get a good overview of the all the meeting room equipment and cables you need, which in turn can help you decide what type of cable management solution is the right one for you.
In a new meeting room or installation, the possibilities are endless. Cables can be routed below floors, in walls, behind baseboards and around doorframes or window frames, making them completely invisible. If cables are being routed along walls, you can take the opportunity and have connection cables from AV equipment routed and connected with a wall plate connector, such as Neets Input Panels. These panels provide different types of connections, such as HDMI, USB, VGA, Audio and XLR. A device such as a TV, projector or speaker would have a concealed cable routed along the wall. The people in the meeting room could then connect their laptop to these devices through the input panel using a short cable, instead of having several meters of cable trailing down from the ceiling and across the floor. The risks of having such a long trailing cable, as mentioned previously, are that such cables are potential tripping hazards and can also damage the devices if pulled out accidentally.
Cable management in a furnished meeting room
Your meeting room is already furnished and equipped, so ripping up the floorboards and tearing down walls is understandably out of the question. Not to worry though, there are still cable management solutions out there for you.
The first things you should consider is whether your company has an IT or infrastructure budget and if it has the necessary internal resources to manage the project, or if you need to hire an external company that provides this type of service. There are consultants who specialize in workplace design and can advise you on how to make the best use of your space, which tools to use manage cables and design and implement the solution for you.
If you are more of a DIY type of company, there are a number of cable management solutions available. It’s time for you to find out exactly what your needs are and what type of solutions exist out there. Cable management is a relatively small, but extremely important investment that can impact workplace safety, employee satisfaction, the general office appearance and hygiene.
You should also consider how bad your situation is and what specific types of solutions can fix the cable chaos in the meeting room. Do you need cable raceways or cable sleeves? Do you want cables to be completely invisible or just be out of the way? Do you just a clearer indication of which cable belongs to which device? There are a lot of great options out there, it’s just about finding the right one for you.
Here are some examples of cable management tools that are easily available in most hardware stores, office supplies or online:
- Cable raceways
Cable raceways are paintable plastic containers that are attached to walls. They are used to conceal and protect cables running from one end of a room to another. More advanced versions of cable raceways can also be used to provide power sockets at convenient locations.
- Cable sleeves
Cable sleeves are a good-looking cable management solution that does not require any technical skills to install. Cable sleeves gather cables and wires into one flexible tube and protect them from getting stuck in office chair wheels, amongst other things.
- Cable tray
Cable tray systems are shaped like steel baskets and can be suspended from under desk surfaces. They are perfect for running larger quantities of cables and wires and have the additional benefit of keeping wires well-ventilated thanks to their open structure.
- Cable Wraps
Cable wraps are a great solution for keeping smaller and shorter wires from getting tangled by wrapping them between the gadget’s grooves. A cable wrap is also a smart way of shortening wires or cables to the required length by wrapping the excess cable at the end, instead of leaving it to trail on the floor waiting for someone to trip over it.
- Cable clips and clamps
These small gadgets can be a life-saver! Cable clips and clamps have an adhesive back and can be attached to office furniture; keeping wires and cables in place and making wired connections easily accessible.
- Cable Identification Tags
A simple, yet genius idea that labels the different cables according to their purpose and to the device they’re connected to. These tags make it significantly easier and faster for people to find the right cable and also ensure that people don’t try to force the wrong cable into a port, potentially damaging the device.
- Table Wells
Table wells are a more advanced solution – but you can still install them yourself if you are a bit handy with a saw and a drill. Table wells are placed into table surfaces so that you can route cables and wires through the well for easy access. Many table wells also have a lid, so that all the cables can be hidden from sight when not in use, giving you a neater finish.
Easy DIY cable management solutions – cable sleeves and clips
One of the more popular cable management solutions to a giant tangle of wires is the cable sleeve. There are many types of cable sleeves, but they all have the same purpose; to gather cables and ensure that your cables don’t get tangled up in one another or get pulled out accidentally. With a cable sleeve, you will also give the appearance of more space, as trailing cables tend to occupy quite a large area of the floor. It looks much professional, and this is important if you’re a service company and often have clients visiting your meeting rooms. A clean and tidy workplace always gives people a good impression of the company.
Cable sleeves are pretty easy to use, requiring absolutely 0 technical skills to install. All you have to do is gather the cables in one hand and wrap the spirals around the cables, effectively “building” the tube around the cables. Cable sleeves are a cost-effective and flexible option, as they can be bought in different lengths and easily be cut to fit your needs.
There are good alternatives to cable sleeves if there are not so many cables in a room. There are several versions of cable strips that can gather bunches of cables. Aside from the traditional black plastic strips and are tied and clipped to the right length, you can also purchase custom Velcro trips. While they’re wider and bulkier than the black plastic strips, they give you the freedom to add and remove cables to the bunch without having to destroy the strip every time.
Cable sleeves and strips are ideal if the cables and wires will not be moved often. However, if cables will be used several times a day (such as the HDMI cable to the TV), it might be smarter to use a cable clip or clamp.
More advanced cable management – cable raceways
Cable raceways are another popular cable management option. They are available in several different materials and can be painted or covered with wallpaper to match the room’s interior design. However, your ability to install it yourself depends on the desired complexity of the setup. You can easily install a cable raceway yourself if all you want to do is route some power cords from the sockets along the wall to the device. However, more advanced cable raceways can route power, network cables and other types of input connections, and therefore require professional installation. This type of cable raceway provides many benefits, as you can strategically place power sockets, network ports and other input panels at strategic locations (ex. Near a desk or around the conference table to minimize the number (and the length) of the visible cables.
A professional tabletop solution
If you’re looking for a more elegant and professional solution to manage cables at the office or meeting room, you can look at the different table wells from Neets. Table wells are installed in a table surface and provide easy and convenient access to the most commonly used cable connections right from the desk surface. These connections can be USB, HDMI, VGA, Display Ports etc.
Most table wells also have a lid; when it’s closed, all the cables are neatly hidden out of sight. More advanced versions of table wells include power sockets so that you can charge your laptop/smartphone directly at the desk, with no cables trailing off the desk waiting for someone to trip over them. Finally, some of our table wells have a keypad control system built-in, so that users can manage the AV equipment in the room directly from the desk, without using remote controls or having to get up to press buttons on the equipment. An example of such a table well is the Neets EasyConnect – Control, EcHo Plus.
Neets also provides a cable bag as an accessory. The cable bag works in the same way as a sleeve, providing you with a safe way to route and hide cables. The cable bag has an opening on both ends; you attach one end to the bottom of the table well under the table with the Velcro straps and route the cables through the bag and to the connected devices, providing you with a way to route cables from the table well, under your desk and to the connected devices.
Wireless alternatives for your meeting room
While cables can provide a more stable connection to the internet and to the different devices, technology has advanced so much that you can now get rid of cables altogether! You don’t need to think about whether to choose cable raceways, sleeves, clips or ties; you can instead choose to implement a wireless setup in your meeting room.
You’re probably already familiar with several wireless products, and perhaps already use them at home and at the workplace. Wireless mice and keyboards have become standard-issue for most workstations. Nowadays you can also purchase pretty good quality home equipment such as wireless speakers at a very affordable price. Some smartphone models are also compatible with wireless chargers; cool gadgets that look a lot neater than your wired phone charger.
Wireless technology is also available for meeting room equipment! There is a wide variety of wireless screen mirroring/streaming and casting technologies (yes, there are a lot of terms for it) that send the content on your laptop screen to a TV or projector using a wireless or wired connection. Worth mentioning here are wireless screen mirroring technologies such as MHL, DLNA and Miracast. Some technology, such as Airtame, take content from your screen and “projects” it to a TV or projector using WiFi and an HDMI connection.
Ready to take action against cable chaos
The choice is yours – whether you decide to stick to wired connections or go wireless in the meeting room depends on the type of room you have, the number of equipment, the way the room is used, how often it’s used and a lot of other factors. No matter what your choice is, however, there is no excuse for a cable jungle in the meeting room! The solutions for eliminating cable chaos are out there, you just have to find the right one for you.
Biamp is a leading provider of innovative, networked media systems that power the world’s most sophisticated audiovisual installations. The company is recognized worldwide for delivering high-quality products and backing each one with a commitment to exceptional customer service.