The Future of the Workplace

HB Communications
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Audiovisual company HB Communications assists all types of organizations in helping them transform the way they work and communicate using technology. The company designs, builds and supports audiovisual communication environments with a focus on video collaboration, broadcast, digital signage, experiential environments, video streaming, and managed services.
HB works with its customers to design any environment to help enhance communication, collaboration, brand experience and/or any unique custom environment that their clients may require. For every environment it designs, the company has a managed services team that supports the technology after installation and keeps an eye on the health of the complex systems. “We can monitor which systems are in use, which solutions are having trouble, and really support the customer completely after the installation. So that when they have these advanced environments, it’s not a big headache for them to make sure they are going to keep working, and they’re going to be worth the investment,” says Director of Brand Strategy Dan Barron.

HB Communications breaks down its specializations into a few categories. The collaboration team helps customers improve communication and establish efficient and immersive collaboration between locations around the world. HB’s collaboration practice designs both cloud environments such as online social collaboration platforms and physical environments such as conference rooms and other open collaboration spaces.

Another specialized division develops digital signage solutions and large video walls. Video walls can be used for a variety of applications including communication, displaying essential information, or for artistic or experiential design purposes. HB’s creative teams can create the content for video walls as well, such as the display of a rising sun behind a beautiful mountain that is displayed on a video wall in a large lobby, or interactive interfaces for displaying specific data or communications that is relevant to the customer.

The event production team, HB Live, develops and implements engaging and compelling live events. The full-service team combines creativity and technology to deliver an exceptional experience to the audience.

The company was founded in 1946 by Mackey Barron in his garage in North Haven, Connecticut. It has since expanded with offices in New Jersey and Boston, yet most of its workforce remains in the New England region of the Northeastern United States. It also has a smaller office in the UK to provide service to its customers overseas. Many of its customers are large companies that have various facilities located all around the world, requiring support in numerous countries, and HB provides that. It has customers in every market and over thirty countries.

Within the 330 employees at HB, there is still a core group of people that have been with the company since its humble beginnings as a small family business. “Today, after all these years, we still have people who are so deep in the culture of the company and have been there for so many years. It adds to the balance between a modern tech company that has to be lean and efficient while still holding on to the spirit of the culture and people who helped build what it is from our beginnings,” says Barron. “The company has a strong team that has fought to keep the business successful, and our workforce is always growing with more great people who believe in the future of our company.”

Approximately five years ago, HB was looking to find a way to further develop its brand, improve its impact on customers, and the value it is capable of providing. The team decided to treat themselves as a customer and entirely transform their headquarters with technology. The company completely changed the experience of collaboration and communication in the office by giving itself the most high-quality, advanced systems to improve how they use technology and also to share that story with customers. Its previous, outdated office had not shown the potential that the company offers to its customers.

HB worked with an architect to fully redesign its headquarters and reached out to its top technology partners to collaborate on creating this futuristic workplace that features all of the technology imaginable to improve the way people operate at work. The partners’ support was instrumental in creating the Audiovisual Ecosystem™ at the new headquarters.

“We put together a vision for how we’d transform the way we communicate, and we did a full analysis on our company to see where we can improve communication or experience throughout the workplace or between teams. We mapped the entire process out and outlined our full process from start to finish,” says Barron.

After carefully determining its goals for making the space more technologically engaging, HB began building new environments with helpful tools and technology such as a brainstorming room with bar height tables and a comfortable atmosphere where five laptops can easily be connected to a large touch screen video wall.

The HB team documented every transformation and solution during the renovation to show people how they approached the project and what technology was used in each space. The information is available online for people to explore freely and learn about specifics of the project. “Now people can go online and explore our headquarters and learn how we apply technology and what our philosophy is for ourselves,” says Barron. “We’re just trying to share our information as we get it, and every day that we get better, we want to share our ideas with our customers. It will be an ongoing effort; we’re always going to be sharing what we’re doing at our headquarters online.” There is also a downloadable twenty page PDF file that has the full project details from start to finish.

Establishing more advanced communication environments is great for business, and HB has been sharing a good example of that since the Audiovisual Ecosystem project was completed last November. The company held a launch party last year, and it has been busy sharing the space with customers and discussing newly inspired ideas.

“It gave us an opportunity to tell our story better. It’s been a cool project, and every day we’re able to walk people through to open their eyes and show them value from a genuine perspective,” says Barron. Customers of HB discover new ways to apply audiovisual communication technology when touring the headquarters which helps them to make better decisions for their own companies.

There is a tendency in large companies with multiple locations for employees to speak only by email and not get to know each other well, which causes a challenge for collaboration and building culture. The Wormhole at the HB headquarters is a space in a hallway that provides constant live audio and video feeds between locations. As an employee walks down the hallway, they may run into people from another office along the way, and it creates a feeling of proximity. The crystal clear connection is like a window into another office.

The company was initially concerned that it would be socially awkward and that people would avoid the hallway, yet surprisingly, they very quickly began using the Wormhole. It has been a great addition to the culture at HB and has allowed for multiple functional and humorous situations. It has been a great addition for the office and the firm will be adding more to keep other HB Locations connected as well.

All of the conference rooms at HB are connected by the same video collaboration technology, and all the content featured on its large video walls was all photographed and filmed by the internal creative services team. Members of the staff travelled around New England, New York City and other unique locations to capture footage for the location.

HB Communications is a valuable option for customers that are looking to have one company handle their technology across corporate locations. HB can design the experience, install the technology, and support the systems with managed services. It pays attention to detail and provides the creative content that allows environments to be visually enjoyable. The diverse portfolio of specializations offered by HB enables it to develop a pathway that will lead to continued success for its customers.

“What we’ve created as a company and what we’ve done for ourselves and our customers is definitely something we’re proud of. Helping people navigate the future of environmental design is important,” says Barron.



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