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Microsoft Teams Rooms: The Future of Hybrid Work

When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, companies scrambled to stay productive and deploy technologies to enable remote work. One of the most important factors of remote work was the ability to meet and collaborate on initiatives, serve clients and deliver on the organization’s mission. Many companies were forced to catch up on years of digital transformation in a matter of weeks, if not days, in order to keep working while apart.

As vaccination rates rise and businesses begin to re-open, the workforce is transitioning once again: this time, from remote work to hybrid work.

What is “Hybrid Work?”

Hybrid work, or the hybrid workplace, refers to workplaces with employees working both remotely and, in the office, set up to accommodate both types of workers.

Hybrid work is not an entirely new concept. We at Withum have been practicing hybrid work for many years, and many other organizations have had some form of a hybrid workplace well before the shutdown. Some, like Slack and WordPress, have been operating almost entirely remotely for some time now.

For those who did not have a hybrid workplace or some work-from-home (WFH) capabilities in place before the shutdown, it was a very different story. Many remote workers felt disconnected and, as some coworkers started returning to the office, on a different footing from their office counterparts.

As the hybrid workplace rapidly becomes the face of the modern workplace, organizations need to adjust accordingly. Now is the time to leverage the technologies implemented for WFH to create a viable, flexible workplace that ensures everyone—both at home and in the office—is on equal footing.

Introducing Microsoft Teams Room

The current biggest risk for hybrid workplace meetings, according to Microsoft chief scientist Jaime Teevan, is how virtual meetings can lead to the anonymization of employees.

“…In-person attendees become anonymous faces in a room,” she says, “while remote attendees are left speaking into a void, not knowing if they are seen or heard, or how to jump in and take a turn.”

In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, Microsoft began developing and improving new technology to “create a new and better future of work,” as Teevan described it. The company had a vision for creating “the conference room of the future”: inclusive meetings that encouraged collaboration, ease of access and strong communication that would last well beyond the WFH era and into the future hybrid workplace.

The final result: Microsoft Teams Rooms.

Microsoft Teams Rooms is the most advanced version of Microsoft’s room experience meeting technology, previously known as Skype Room Systems. Teams Rooms are a combination of smart devices and Microsoft Teams software to create a seamless meeting experience for both remote and in-office workers.

So What Sets the New and Improved Microsoft Teams Rooms Apart?

  • One-touch join. Yes, no more scrambling for 15 minutes to bring your team into the meeting. Microsoft Teams Rooms allows you to instantly start your meeting with one touch. You can also use the Teams mobile app to join the call, add the room to your meeting, find nearby rooms and connect your computer—all with one touch.
  • High-definition video with zoom-in abilities. Cameras powered by AI are smart and will automatically zoom in to the people speaking to ensure clarity and
  • High-definition sound. Everyone can be heard and in-room participants can clearly understand everyone in the meeting
  • New video layouts. Teams Rooms makes the most of your screen space by dispersing the video gallery across multiple displays when you’re not sharing content.
  • New engagement features. This summer sees the addition of live reactions, spotlights and chat bubbles to Teams Rooms.
  • The all-new Microsoft Whiteboard. The new Whiteboard is all about “collaboration that just works,” according to Microsoft, featuring a new Laser Pointer for highlighting ideas, a Follow Along feature to reduce distractions, new templates and more.
  • Intelligent Capture. When using a physical whiteboard, you can now frame, focus and zoom in on certain parts of the board—all in real time.
  • Accessibility Slide Translate. Thanks to the PowerPoint Live integration, your attendees can choose to view the presentation in their chosen language.
  • Pin a message with critical content for quick access to all chat members. And this fall, Microsoft is dropping an update that enables users to pin multiple video streams at once.
  • And much more. Learn more about Microsoft Teams Rooms features here.

You can get a free demo of Microsoft Teams Rooms here.

There’s Something for Every Meeting Space.

There are countless ways you can customize Microsoft Teams Rooms to fit your hybrid meeting and video conferencing needs. In most cases, the options are very affordable and provide you with reliable, easy-to-use hardware from reliable brands to provide a great meeting experience.

Microsoft makes it easy to find a solution that fits your space with the “Shop by space” option. Whether you’re working on the go, in a personal office or in a shared space, Microsoft Teams Rooms has bundles for every space size—and even breaks down what hardware is best for each space by seating capability:

Small meeting rooms — also referred to by Microsoft as Focus Rooms; small spaces ideal for 3-5 people.

Microsoft Teams Rooms offers many options for small room collaboration. One example is the Lenovo ThinkSmart View, a device with one-touch access to a meeting. This device is small enough to use at home, in a small office or on the go, and robust enough to work efficiently in medium or large spaces.

ThinkSmart View - Personal / Small Room Device

Mid-size meeting rooms — spaces that seat up to 11 people, and bring in many more online

Choose from devices and bundles that give you everything necessary to interact, connect and collaborate seamlessly with attendees both online and in-person.

Take the Logitech Rally Bar Tap Room: a video conferencing device designed for medium rooms, featuring a motorized camera with up to 4K resolution, a high-quality soundbar, a 10.1-inch touch console for complete meeting control and a built-in multi-microphone array.

Logitech Rally Bar - Small to Medium Room

Large spaces or conference rooms — spaces designed to seat 18+ people or open gathering spaces.

When it’s time for large presentations, team gatherings, and collaboration across teams, you need more than just a screen and camera. For many organizations, whiteboarding is a critical aspect of collaboration—and Microsoft Teams Rooms offers technology for both physical and digital whiteboards.

Microsoft Teams Rooms technology includes next-generation whiteboard cameras that allow you to frame, focus, and zoom in on certain parts of a physical whiteboard.

Take the Logitech Scribe Whiteboard Camera: an example of great innovation that brings hybrid work together and includes everyone in a meeting in a collaboration seamless and frictionless environment.

Logitech Scribe - Whiteboard Camera

There is also the all-new Microsoft Whiteboard, a digital whiteboard featuring Collaborative Diagrams, the new Laser Pointer for highlighting ideas, a Follow Along feature, new templates and more.

So How Do You Get Started?

You should first determine what your organization needs to operate in a hybrid work environment. Then, take inventory of the tools you currently have at your disposal and evaluate how effectively each contributes—or doesn’t—to a seamless, frictionless hybrid work environment. Once you have an idea of what you will need to create a healthy hybrid workplace, you can look through the various options on the Microsoft website.

With so many options from so many different manufacturers available, it is always good to seek guidance from professionals like Withum to ensure you’re choosing the right solutions for your needs. At Withum, we have developed a rapid approach to helping businesses get established with a sustainable, inclusive Teams Room set-up. We guide you through the numerous options available and help ensure you get the most cost-efficient options while considering Microsoft 365 licensing requirements.

Ready to get started? Contact us for a free consultation and learn to revolutionize the way you work.

Technology and Digital Transformation Services

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