Posts tagged workplace collaboration

Microsoft Teams and Surface Hub 2S: Collaboration Tools for Today and Tomorrow

Today, nearly five million people in the U.S. are working remotely. Well before the coronavirus disrupted work as we know it, we were being told that remote work was an essential part of doing our jobs and that remote workers would dominate the workforce. The proliferation of remote work articles popping up in the wake of COVID-19 have made this an even more salient feature of our work lives. Millions of people around the world have had to adjust to a new way of working — a way that requires them to be at home but perform as if they were in the office. 

One of the tools getting high-profile coverage is Microsoft Teams. Whether I’m in the office or working from home, I use Teams many times a day. It’s how colleagues chat me up with ideas and suggestions. It’s how I share editable documents that a specific work group can view and edit. It’s where I can scroll through a conversation to refresh my memory about where we left off a certain project or deliverable. And it’s where I attend video meetings with colleagues to brainstorm, share ideas, and get work done in real time. Let’s look in greater detail at how Microsoft Teams helps me — and can help you — work from home and anywhere else.

How to Work Remotely With Microsoft Teams

For the past couple of weeks, Microsoft Teams has taken on more prominence and importance as my colleagues and I work outside the office. Working remotely doesn’t have much meaning or benefit unless we’re being productive. And Microsoft Teams is supporting that productivity. Since so much of the work we produce is the result of collaboration, it’s easy to see why Microsoft calls Teams its “hub for teamwork.” You could click a link and see the kind of features and capabilities it offers. But for me — I hope for you as well — the best way to share what Microsoft Teams can do is to speak from experience.

Like you, I work on a lot of projects that involve collaboration with a wide range of colleagues. Within Microsoft Teams, I can create (or be added to) a group that is named for a particular project. For example, we formed one project to gather content for our forthcoming podcast. Within these dedicated virtual spaces, we can add files that anyone can edit and download. We also added a section for conversation topics. To those topics we can attach our names and notes so that we know who has responsibility for recruiting guests and scheduling their appearances. It’s a great way for me to remind myself what I’ve done, still have to do, and my deadline. 

Another great reminder is the Posts tab, which includes the typed chats we’ve had about a topic. I frequently reference these conversations if I need to refresh my memory about what was discussed so that I know to work on a task or follow up with someone about theirs. This persistent chat is visual proof of our brainstorming, questions we’ve asked and answered, and announcements we’ve made to each other.

And speaking of visuals: It’s easy to jump into a video call with anyone in my contact list, which includes everyone in the company and anyone that I add. Once in a call, I’m two clicks away from recording the session, an essential tool when I’m interviewing a partner for one of AVI-SPL’s white papers. For most of these meetings, at least one attendee needs to share their content in the Teams window for all to see and understand. Another great feature: how easy it is schedule a Teams meeting from Outlook. I can schedule meetings from within the Microsoft Teams window, but I’m a creature of habit and I’m used to using the Outlook calendar. Whichever way you prefer, know that Teams accommodates your work style.

It’s worth noting that I’ve used only a fraction of Microsoft Teams’ capabilities. There’s plenty of apps that you may find helpful to support your work style or needs, including Stream, Wiki, OneNote, and a host of other built-in Office 365 applications.

I know I’ve given only a taste of what Microsoft Teams can do. Talk to one of AVI-SPL’s experts and you can ask about a host of other features like third-party solutions, the ability to integrate workflows, and the Teams developer platform that works with your business apps. If you choose, we can also take a deep dive with you into important benefits like security, manageability, and compliance, along with the room devices from our manufacturer partners that bring Microsoft Teams into the meeting space. With all I’ve shared, I’d be remiss to not include this overview of its key features:

  • Works across desktop, mobile, browser and a wide range of devices
  • A digital whiteboard (which I’ve never used til I started writing this post. It was a breeze to start.)
  • AI capabilities
  • Interoperability with other video systems
  • The features that ensure a quality audio and video experience
  • Actionable IT analytics

There’s much more to cover, but here’s the takeaway that I hope resonates with you: whatever industry you’re in, Microsoft Teams can improve your operations and processes when it comes to work and collaboration.

How to Be Productive in the Office With Surface Hub 2S

As we get back into the flow of on-site meetings and collaboration sessions, we’ll want to be in the same conference rooms and huddle spaces to connect with people who are in those areas or working from other locations. I don’t have the personal experience with Surface Hub 2S that I have with Microsoft Teams, but I’ve seen the demos — enough to know that it’s the kind of tool that you want in your office when it’s time for groups in and out of the workplace to get together on a shared, high-resolution canvas. And it’s not just any digital canvas, but one that has all the power of the Windows 10 operating system and has the great Microsoft Teams software built in. Going back to what I said earlier about the value of familiarity and comfort in the way we work: This is another way that Microsoft is delivering that kind of experience.

Surface Hub 2S is an interactive device that acts as a meeting platform, digital whiteboard, and so much more. Bring it into a conference room, huddle room or open area and you’ve created a space for teamwork. That includes the ability to use Microsoft Teams to collaborate with remote workers, replicating the great experience you’re used to from your PC. It also includes video conferencing so you can see your teammates while working on shared content in real time. Here are just a handful of the features that make the Surface Hub 2S so valuable:Surface Hub 2S image

  • 4K camera and 4K screen
  • Wireless content sharing
  • Microsoft Whiteboard
  • Window 10 OS
  • 50-inch display size
  • Cart or wall-mount installation

The Surface Hub 2S is the tool you’ll want to have to bring your remote teams together, work from anywhere in the office, and have an easy, fluid collaboration experience among the talent that drives your company’s success.

Talk to AVI-SPL’s Advocates About Microsoft Teams and Surface Hub 2S

If you’re new to Microsoft Teams or Surface Hub 2S, or you’re new to remote collaboration, there are experts at AVI-SPL who are ready to answer your questions and give you guidance. Whatever questions you have, ask them, as our representatives can discuss:

  • Product demos
  • How to migrate from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams
  • Planning and designing an enterprise-wide Teams launch (including network assessment, device strategy and migration planning)
  • Microsoft Teams meeting-room configuration with certified devices (Crestron, Poly, Yealink, Logitech, and others)
  • Training and adoption services
  • Room system and device management
  • How Microsoft Teams can help your specific industry
  • Integrating the Surface Hub 2S into areas across your enterprise

It can seem like a lot to take in, but keep in mind that all of these features and benefits are meant to serve your clear goals: better team collaboration and a better way of organizing you and your teams’ work. I would venture that a lot of us are looking forward to the day we can get back into the office and have that in-person experience. But for those of us who are set up to collaborate from home, we know how easy it is to be just as productive and contribute just as much from wherever we choose to set up our personal devices. Our current circumstances will pass; what will remain is the freedom, flexibility, and support that tools like Microsoft Teams and Surface Hub 2S bring to our work lives.

Coronavirus Highlights Value of Remote Work

With the recent news of the coronavirus dominating world headlines, this is a good opportunity to evaluate your company’s emergency plans. We’ve already seen the effects of the virus, also known as COVID-19, on the global markets. On Thurs, Feb. 27, the Dow fell almost 1,200 points, its highest one-day point drop in history. Much of that is being attributed to the effect of the virus on supply and demand. As a result, some of the largest companies in the world are restricting their employees’ business travel while also allocating more resources for virtual work

At around the 3:40 mark of this TechCrunch podcast, the speakers discuss Zoom and its ascent in price from the low $70s just a month ago to reaching over $120 in early trading on Friday, Feb. 28. That notable rise is occurring as video conferencing has become not just attractive but necessary. The TechCrunch discussion notes a number of major conferences – including Facebook’s F8 – that have been cancelled out of caution against the coronavirus.

Whether the cause is a virus, natural disaster, or some other disruptive event: How you will handle interruptions and minimize a negative impact to your business?

Uninterrupted Workforce Collaboration

Branch office locations need to function even if a main office is closed, and employees need a reliable, agile collaboration environment to enable them to work from home without missing a step.  AVI-SPL’s digital workplace solutions can ensure your workplace has the collaboration tools to handle any challenge and keep your talent and operations connected even amidst a crisis like the one we’re currently facing. 

By deploying a solution such as Microsoft Teams or Cisco Webex Teams, your workforce can continue to communicate regardless of distance or time zone.  These platforms also provide video conferencing to enhance the collaboration experience.  Popular cloud-based solutions like Zoom and Pexip can be easily integrated with these collaboration platforms.

A Better User Experience of Collaboration Technology

Some offices may have to close because of an event like the coronavirus.  But that circumstance only underscores the need to support those offices that are still open for business. AVI-SPL Symphony enables you to keep your operations functioning and your workforce productive – even when some of them can’t be at the office.

You can remotely monitor and control all collaboration technology from any of your locations. By leveraging Symphony, either as a managed service or Symphony as a Service, organizations can manage their meeting scheduling and launching. They can also monitor their meeting health status while it’s in progress by monitoring connection status and giving staff the information they need to provide in-meeting support without being in the room. You will know what rooms and devices are ready for use and can make fixes before the participants are impacted.

Be Prepared – And Reap the Benefits at the Same Time

Digital workplace collaboration can’t just be part of a contingency plan in the face of rare – we hope — emergencies. This is the way we work today, and it’s a big reason why companies can so easily expand into locations and markets and attract the talent that drives their success.

How can you ensure that your investment in collaboration is having the desired impact? The key is having the data. AVI-SPL Symphony provides tactical and strategic business intelligence through analytics as customized insight through Build Your Own Reports. You can then make informed decisions about room construction/repurposing, technology refreshes, and addressing issues like technology adoption.

Not only will you gain more insight into your environment, but AVI-SPL digital workplace solution deployments will help your organization save time and money.  In 2018, Forrester Consulting’s “Total Economic Impact of AVI-SPL’s Digital Workplace Solutions” found a meeting productivity increase worth $11.9M over three years for a large enterprise organization, and savings of 122,500 hours per year due to meetings that start on time.  In an uncertain economic environment, these savings will help your organization maintain its agility to meet the ever-changing climate.   

While we all hope that no emergencies ever impact our offices, events like the coronavirus bring into sharp relief the value of collaboration technology. Build your digital workplace, and your company will have more than a set of just-in-case tools; it will be equipped to compete in today’s business environment by empowering your people to share the ideas and create the value that leads to growth.

How to Calculate the Value of Your Digital Workplace Solutions

Just about any significant expenditure you make in business needs to be justified with an estimated return on investment (ROI). Because AVI-SPL provides the digital services that are designed to improve how your business operates, we’ve created a calculator that you can use to figure out the financial value of digital workplace solutions.

Our new productivity calculator will factor in your company’s information and show the benefits of solutions that improve the employee experience and productivity in the workplace.

Forrester Consulting’s “Total Economic Impact of AVI-SPL’s Digital Workplace Solutions” shows the kind of value you can get from improving your collaboration solutions and outsourcing their support to AVI-SPL. Based on a three-year model, the study showed a meeting productivity increase worth $11.9 million. Other findings from the report, which aggregated four different AVI-SPL customers into a composite company, found:

  • 14.3% net reduction in total cost of ownership of digital meeting solutions 
  • 20% increase in meeting-room utilization
  • $1.5M in savings on management and support costs

To estimate your savings, go to this landing page to access the calculator. Once you’ve downloaded the spreadsheet, you can enter information like:

  • The number of meeting rooms in your company
  • How many rooms will be equipped with video conferencing systems
  • Hourly cost of your full-time employees
  • Cost per square foot of meeting spaces

Take a few minutes to gather the info needed and a few seconds to enter it into the spreadsheet. Our calculator will then determine the value delivered by higher meeting-room utilization, improved staff productivity, and AVI-SPL’s managed services. And you’ll have the ROI numbers that clear the path for digital workplace transformation that improves the culture, productivity and efficiency of your business.

Download the AVI-SPL Digital Workplace Solutions ROI Calculator >

Creating Better Workplace Meetings With Crestron Flex

In a fast-paced, productivity-focused workplace, time is at a premium for everyone. Meetings have to start fast, run as expected, and support the way participants want to collaborate. Less time worrying about how to use technology means more time to maximize productivity and create new ideas that benefit the business. 

Because not every meeting has the same number of people or same general purpose, smart workplaces will feature a variety of spaces: huddle rooms, open areas, personal desks, executive boardrooms, and traditional conference rooms designed for small, medium, and large groups. 

These spaces are typically aligned with purposes suited to their size: the quick brainstorming huddle, the strategic presentation, the training session, the group presentation. Though different in size and purpose, most share similar technology systems. The types of collaboration technology in these spaces often include preferred UCC platforms (think Microsoft Teams Rooms), wireless connectivity from BYOD, ready-to-go video conferencing, and interactive displays. 

Regardless of your particular industry — whether it’s higher education or any number of corporate sectors like energy, finance, legal and transportation —  you can make use of the variety of collaboration spaces for quick huddles, training sessions, and strategic-minded presentations. Common to these organizations is their reliance on speed and agility. To reach business outcomes and outdo the competition, they must give their talent the tools they need to quickly come up with ideas and strategies that they take to market. By establishing technology standards for each of these spaces, you create a consistent, a high-quality experience that encourages collaboration and optimizes your workforce’s effectiveness. 

Crestron solutions set the standard for collaboration across industries and applications. In particular, Crestron Flex is a pace setter for key activities like quick-start meetings, video conferencing, collaboration, and content sharing. There’s a Crestron Flex solution for any size and type of conference space – including private and custom spaces and rooms designed for groups of various sizes. Wherever they gather, even from remote locations, meeting attendees have the same easy ability to work together. 

Users can connect their personal devices into their Crestron Flex device and start working with one another from their preferred UC platform. Crestron Flex natively supports whichever popular platform you choose, so once you connect your laptop via USB, you’re ready to collaborate. 

I encourage you to look at the Crestron Flex series of products so you can get an idea of how they’ll play in your workplace. For companies like yours, you’ll have a meeting-room solution that’s affordable and supports the way your teams produce the outcomes that drive your success in the marketplace. These solutions include:

  • Crestron Flex B-Series Smart Soundbar
  • Crestron Flex C-Series Integrator Kits
  • Crestron Flex M-Series Tabletop AV Conferencing
  • Crestron Flex P-Series Desktop Phone

You can learn more about each of these solutions at the Crestron Flex page.

Want a demo of Crestron Flex so you can see firsthand what it can do? Contact us at AVI-SPL and we’ll answer your questions and show you how Crestron Flex transforms your meeting experience so you get the business outcomes that spark success.

 

 

 

 

The Role of Workplace Intelligence in Today’s Business

Organizations are on track for success when they see workplace intelligence from two related perspectives: 1) as information that shapes the individual’s ability to take the actions that achieve business goals; 2) as information that shapes a company’s approach to achieving business outcomes.

“When AVI-SPL talks about workplace intelligence with companies, we focus on the data that predicts user needs for routine tasks in meetings, particularly where collaboration is involved,” says Tim Riek, SVP of services for AVI-SPL. “Typically we’ll have conversations about issues like what functions should engage when they enter the room and how to make this process consistent across all their meeting spaces.

The intelligent workplace empowers people to work smarter rather than longer or harder. For businesses in any industry, this approach reduces the cost of wasted effort and inefficiency. At the AVI-SPL stand at ISE 2020, which is the world’s largest AV and systems integration show, guests representing businesses like yours will talk to our collaboration experts about their approach to designing a workplace that optimizes for the user experience.

“We want employees to be agile and efficient,” says Riek. “The solutions that support that agility will attract and keep the talent that drives a company’s success.”

Workplace intelligence is also the information that arises from the ways employees are using their collaboration spaces and room devices – and how often. Companies can use that information to predict user needs for routine tasks, technology needs for meetings and collaboration, and work space needs for organizations and businesses.

Consider both perspectives and we see that workplace intelligence:

  • Springs from actionable business intelligence gleaned from rich technology and space utilization analytics
  • Gives back crucial resources, like time to employees (work smarter rather than longer or harder), and wasted costs to the business bottom line
  • Improves the effectiveness of workforce and the efficiency or agility of the business
  • Understands and optimizes user experience
  • Makes a healthier, more successful business

At ISE 2020, which runs from February 11-14, AVI-SPL is going to help its guests understand workplace intelligence, including its importance and how to gain its benefits. Guests at ISE will see how the AVI-SPL Symphony application offers a window into ROI through workplace data like space and device utilization analytics.

“Symphony delivers workplace intelligence by which companies can assess the value of their investment in their collaboration solutions and spaces,” says Riek. “Combine that with our services and support, and we can help them reach their business outcomes.”

If you’ll be attending ISE 2020, visit AVI-SPL at stand 11-C155.

If you want to know more about how AVI-SPL can deliver the workplace intelligence you need to work smarter, contact us.