Holmes Murphy Increases Collaboration and Technology
Utilization with Automated Audiovisual Technology
Holmes Murphy, with roots back to 1932, has seen tremendous changes in its provision of insurance and related
services – not just in the products they offer but also in the way their people work. As they have expanded their
operations across the United States, employees have dealt with multiple challenges in maintaining
communication within their head office, national branches, and an increasing number of remote personnel.
Providing effective connections was top of mind while planning a new headquarters facility.
Early and Integrated Planning Leads to Successful Design
The main goal of building a new 90,000-squarefoot headquarters was to create spaces that would facilitate a
collaborative culture and align with Holmes Murphy’s workflows. In the original offices, teams endured poor
audio quality, lack of video conferencing capabilities, and a constant need for IT support in their meeting spaces.
Seventy-five percent of their meetings include remote participants, and the growing workforce of young
professionals expects intuitive technology. Whether on-site or working remotely, Holmes Murphy’s teams need to
be able to easily connect and share in the new space.
As a result, they decided to include expert audiovisual (AV) consultation early in the design of the building,
especially considering the scope of the project.
The AV specialist would need to outfit small- and medium-scale meeting rooms,
reconfigurable training rooms, collaboration spaces, executive conference rooms,
and the atrium in a way that worked with the building’s
structure, envisioned aesthetic, and the users’ needs. Holmes Murphy chose Mechdyne to join the team due to
their expertise in providing full service consultation through installation of the AV elements of the project.
The success of this project depended heavily on early consideration of AV technologies for the varied workflows.
Holmes Murphy wanted an expansive building with large windows, open spaces, colorful design accents, and an
overall modern vibe—including concrete floors, a mix of glass and concrete walls, and a wooden ceiling. A large,
glassed-in central atrium would serve as the venue for all-company meetings that will include remote video
While modern and visually impressive, the building’s lighting and material choices demanded careful attention when considering the AV design and component selection. This included considerations like:
- The unique design of the building, requiring different approaches to sound abatement, including:- Sound masking in the atrium to reduce noise and echo from the open space- Varying sound-abatement approaches to address the noise created by hard surfaces and configuration
- High ambient light conditions, requiring special display considerations
Workflow Requirements Drive Technology Selection and Meeting Automation
As part of the discovery phase, Mechdyne conducted interviews with Holmes Murphy employees in order to gain
a better understanding of their workflows and primary needs from the AV upgrade. This became the start of the
working relationship between the contractor, architect, and Mechdyne, enabling informed collaboration and
decision-making on the design of the building.
The newly upgraded collaboration spaces resulted in:
- Advanced meeting room automation
- Integrated audio, including ceiling speakers and microphones
- Web-based video conferencing cameras
- Atrium space outfitted with video and audio capabilities for company-wide meetings
- Tracking camera in the main training room for seamless, remote training sessions
- Scheduling panels connected to Outlook
“The fact that everything is user-friendly
and doesn’t take any extra knowledge to
get it going, that’s the best thing.”– Aaron Bush, Tech Support Manager
With this new technology, teams collaborate seamlessly in virtual meetings across locations, and engage in
interactive training opportunities. As a result, Holmes Murphy locations are more connected than ever before.
The meeting rooms feature Mechdyne’s proprietary automation software that detects user activities in each
room and manages the system power and source routing.
The user can power up the room, per their preference, by doing one of the following:
- Logging into the in-room PC
- Connecting the Barco ClickShare button to their laptop
- Connecting the Extron Show Me Cable to their laptop
Preparing and powering up meetings used to take 20 minutes, with IT support on stand-by. Starting meetings
now takes a maximum of five minutes without any IT assistance, resulting in a 75-percent time-savings.
“We’re now in more of a seeking environment
as a result of the new technology. The technology
enables users to figure things out on their own
rather than always asking for help with IT or
information from other teams… When I came here,
it was seamless. Everything is very intuitive.”– Kay Murphy, Learning & Development
Business Partner, PC
The meeting spaces are also equipped with a Crestron control panel, used for basic controls— volume, telephone
call dialing, camera aiming, and other advanced controls.
At the end of a meeting, when the user logs off the PC and disconnects, the display(s) will automatically power
down after 15 minutes of inactivity. The room scheduling system is also on a 15-minute timer since the meeting
spaces are in high demand. If a user does not come into the room within 15 minutes of a scheduled meeting’s
start time, the room status automatically changes to “available” and the scheduling panel outside the door
displays room availability.
Since some of these new spaces would serve as templates for future branch office upgrades, a few of the smaller
huddle rooms were purposely equipped differently for limited A/B testing of technology return on investment
(ROI). Single flat-panel monitors were installed in specific rooms, two in others. Through employee use and
feedback, Holmes Murphy’s IT team will determine whether the second monitor increases productivity, increases
user contacts to IT, or adds value they had not considered previously. If a second monitor is not adding sufficient
value, they will not include them in future deployments.
AV Challenges to Overcome in a New Building
High Ambient Light
As soon as visitors and employees pass through the reception area, they see the expansive, bright atrium. It is
used for hosting company-wide meetings and events, visitor presentations, and occasional collaboration
meetings among large employee groups. Mechdyne designed a mobile projection and motorized screen solution
that deploys only when needed. Retracting the screen when not in use preserves the aesthetic of the atrium and
building design. Dual Digital Projection 18,000-lumen HD laser projectors on a rolling cart are used to project
80-feet onto the motorized drop-down screen. This type of projector is optimal in an open space filled with
natural lighting. Also, utilizing dual projectors provides users and their audience with comfortable viewing
brightness and a back-up capability.
The open design of the building required sound abatement. In the atrium, wall-mounted speakers are carefully
positioned to surround the space to provide uniform sound for all-company meetings.
To fill the open space and reduce echo throughout the building, Mechdyne designed a sound-masking system
made up of active emitters. However, the only options for installing white noise speakers were structural beams
spanning the ceiling. In order to design a mounting solution that would allow the speakers to hang low enough
to work effectively, and not disrupt the aesthetic of the building, the Mechdyne installation team constructed a
physical mock-up of the ceiling structure and designed the mounting solution that would complement the open
design. To ensure the solution would work optimally within the space, the team coordinated on-site testing with
the general contractor during construction.
Since Holmes Murphy opened the doors to their new headquarters, employees are experiencing immediate
improvements from their old technology infrastructure.
“The biggest [improvement] is the reduced startup
times with the smaller PCs. It’s phenomenal. It’s
gone from a long loading-time for the older PCs to
maybe a 40-second loading time for new users or
a 15-second start-up time for regular users.”– Ben Wilker, Learning and Development Consultant
Holmes Murphy achieved their goals due to the advanced planning and collaboration with Mechdyne. Complete
designs and regular communication instilled confidence in Holmes Murphy’s project team during construction
and AV installation. Increased user confidence and higher utilization rates result from designing simplified
meeting spaces and intuitive user interfaces. The technology selected and regular service will lead to longer
utilization and lower overall costs of operation.