Like many, we had to pivot how our business and team operated to overcome the global pandemic’s challenges. Microsoft Teams played a considerable role in our business surviving, both from an internal comms perspective and shifting our technology focus to help other brands successfully unify their communications.
We learnt first-hand from our own Microsoft Teams Rooms solutions, by analysing how our staff use Teams and by working with end-users and technology manufacturers how to fine tune our Teams Rooms expertise. We’ve now designed and installed over 3000 Teams Rooms since the move to hybrid working became the new normal.
The uptake in Microsoft Teams is growing exponentially, almost doubling from 75 million in April 2020 to 145 million in April 2021 (that’s a 625% increase in daily users), with 90% of people agreeing that video makes meetings more efficient and engaging (as reported by BlueJeans).
Jabra, a world-class engineer of audio and video conferencing solutions, also conducted a report that revealed that flexibility is so important to the workforce that 59% of knowledge workers assert that it is more important to them than salary and other benefits.
That is astounding!
So we know that video conferencing is the future of business opportunities and provides workers with the flexibility to communicate from anywhere. But, how do you ensure the technology you pair with this communication platform and the physical spaces creates environments that offer equality for both in-room and remote workers?
Well, we’ll let you into a secret. It’s all down to the right camera and audio solution.
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One of the biggest frustrations we hear from our clients is that their audio and video devices are not performing how they thought they would. Too frequently, this is because the audio and video are considered secondary, with the main focus on having the best resolution screen.
Whether that’s an old system that isn’t cut out for the increased use, a quick purchase bought to solve an issue rapidly or a solution that isn’t allowing the devices to communicate properly – they all result in a poor quality experience.
We’ve teamed up with Jabra to condense the most important focal points to help you overcome pain points, increase productivity, and offer remote and in-person participants an enhanced experience.
Inclusivity should be one of the biggest focuses for any business. Hybrid work will see the majority of teams working from multiple locations regularly, with the home office and traditional office being the most common spaces.
Jabra discovered 84% of the workforce believe collaboration technologies will create a more equal and inclusive workforce, and 80% would rather work for a company that invests in technology to better connect the workforce.
Maintaining equality for team members spread across different locations can be tricky. Still, by choosing the right technology, participants can feel equal, simply by being clearly seen and heard, regardless of their physical location.
TIP: How to maintain inclusivity.
This is where a camera with a wide-field-of-view comes in. The camera lens is essential for people to be seen, and the wider the field of view, the more of the room that the camera can capture. Jabra has blown us away with their professional HD video conferencing cameras that feature a 180-degree field of view – which is whooping, so there is no hiding from their cameras!
Secondly, choosing the right audio is paramount. Poor audio quality can reduce the meeting experience, resulting in participants mishearing information and lacking focus. It’s reported that poor-quality audio and the decreased ability to interpret body language accurately are primary contributors to fatigue and a negative impact on well-being.
There are some excellent all-in-one solutions available on the market (like the Jabra PanaCast 50, which is the world’s first “new-normal-ready intelligent soundbar.) that combine the camera and audio into a single solution.
Simplicity does not mean basic. Simplicity is the by-product of clever people working together to engineer a solution that simplifies how a device operates whilst enhancing the end-user experience. This is where many people make the mistake of thinking that a cheaper product will function the same as a more intelligent product because the features appear identical.
Jabra reports that being confident in their technology – audio, internet, video – allows 85% of the global workforce to excel at work. So by achieving simplicity across all your meeting spaces, your team will have access to a better quality experience that will result in uptake in technology usage and an increase in work productivity.
TIP: How to introduce simplicity and increase quality.
Opt for accurate plug-and-play solutions that don’t require your teams to download any complex software but do offer monitoring support so you can quickly and remotely gain insights into any technical issues.
Ensuring inclusivity and simplicity across all your workspaces will require purchasing professional technology that converts spaces into collaborative hybrid meetings.
From the Jabra study, 55% of the employees interviewed want personal technology to take with them wherever they wish to work and almost three in four (68%) would prefer companies to select and provide that technology to make the hybrid experience equal. These figures showcase that employees are thirsty for high-quality devices and technology consistency across all physical rooms.
TIP: How to create continuity.
Use similar video conferencing setups throughout your real estate for flexible hot-desking arrangements, huddle spaces, dedicated collaboration spaces with interactive whiteboards and meeting rooms. This will provide continuity and additional resources for hybrid workers to undertake social and collaborative tasks face-to-face with their peers and include remote teams.
Note: It’s not lazy to use the same product across your spaces if the product operates at its best, but it’s bad practice to install a piece of kit if it’s not suitable. Make sure you consider the number of people in the room, viewing distance and acoustics – but your integrator should already be doing this for you!
One of the reasons people work in the office is for the social side of work. People crave face-to-face interactions but attaining this in the virtual world raises questions about how to recreate life-like encounters.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled devices are the answer. The clever technology enables fluid experiences virtually and captures human reactions automatically. Features such as intelligent zoom and speaker recognition allow participants to work naturally, with the camera and audio automatically adjusting to frame moving or speaking participants. Whilst built-in intelligence can also address many issues, such as poor or insufficient lighting, by automatically adjusting the camera outgoing camera stream to enhance the picture quality.
Jabra is the master of these forward-thinking features. They understand that their cameras need to function more than just capture what’s in front of it. By engineering its products with advanced processors, powerful onboard AI and a 13-megapixel camera, people on the receiving end experience a realistic virtual environment that draws attention to the most critical tasks.
Tip: How to choose the right technology for your space.
Certification is an essential factor in ensuring the longevity of your solution. By choosing products that have reached Microsoft certification, you can ensure your devices will continue to work with no extra configuration when Microsoft Teams updates.
TIP: How to get the best of your solution.
Microsoft Teams updates a lot, don’t let your devices become obsolete overnight. Always choose products from a certified manufacturer!
There you have it. Our tips on how to embrace the hybrid future and make sure everyone is included and represented as we move between home office, workplaces and transition back to life on the road.