How to Build an Awesome AV Setup for Remote Offices

When we started making our wish list for what we wanted in our new office, an amazing AV set-up was second only to a tube slide from the 6th floor to the 5th (for the record, that got nixed).

Having offices in Denver and San Francisco means that much of our day-to-day business is done over video-conferencing.

For a digital company, the tech set-up at our old HQ was pretty embarrassing. Moving the 1,031 feet up Fifth Avenue from our old building to the new, offered us the awesome opportunity to up our game in every single way. We wanted to make sure Bitly was at the forefront of innovative technology and video conferencing equipment.

Here’s how we did it:


The Move

Moving is never easy. Moving in New York, even less so. Moving an office of over 60 people is just plain daunting. The list of what needs to be done and who needs to do it can cause a migraine after just a few minutes of looking at it.

Want to take a nap but can’t fall asleep?  Google “how to make a Gannt chart”, that will do the trick.

Our new office is chalk-full of awesome features, and we wanted to take full advantage of them to create an enviable and productive work-space. Twice a week we gather for an all-hands meeting, and in the new office we designed an amazing all-hands space, featuring a grand staircase ending in bleacher seating.  The “Deck” is the focal-point of our new office, and we wanted the technology to back it up.

One of the main issues we had with our old all-hands tech set-up was audio quality. Our remote team had to struggle to hear what was being said almost all of the time. For a short while, we flirted with a hand-held microphone, but that quickly fell by the wayside and we stuck with the old reliable tool of SHOUTING.

It was less helpful than we would have hoped.

The New AV Set-Up

Staying connected is key to our success. It was crucial that our new office include a better system for communicating with our remote teams.

We partnered with an AV consulting firm to hand-pick the equipment in our new and improved office. Our all-hands space has both microphones and speakers mounted and recessed into the ceiling. This improves both the aesthetic of the space as well as the audio quality for our team members joining from afar.

An impressive wall-mounted 90” television displays our meeting slides as well as the ginormous deity heads of our remote teammates. Most impressively, perhaps, is that the entire system is controlled by an iPad; connected to A/V rack, that also controlled a mounted camera that can, Michael Bay-style pan and zoom to any direction in the room.

In less than a week in our new space, communication has improved. With anywhere from four to ten people dialing in remotely for these bi-weekly meetings, we are now able to seamlessly speak with them and get their feedback on ideas.

We upped our game in our new main conference room too. Honestly, we stepped up in all of our conference rooms, but the main one, Central Park, is the most show-y of the bunch. It boasts similar capabilities to the Deck, with an iPad-controlled A/V system including recessed microphones and speakers, teleconferencing and camera.

Where we used to have a series of disjointed and one-off per person tools for conferencing and telecommunications, we have moved to a copy & paste setup in every room; simplifying our systems by making each room uniform. Using Google Hangouts powered by “Google for work” Chromeboxes, unifies our conferencing workflow across the entire office.

With all these fun toys, we almost don’t miss the slide at all.


Bitly @Bitly