Over a year into the pandemic, the world – and workplace – are looking to the future. With offices and businesses starting to reopen, the spotlight has shifted to focus on “return to work,” and what exactly that entails.
For many, the future of work will be hybrid. According to recent research from Frost & Sullivan, 58 per cent of the workforce expects to be working from home at least 8 days a month. In the last year, businesses and employees around the world have proved that you don’t need to be in the office to succeed. Businesses were able to rapidly adapt to a remote working style and now the previously held stigma of remote and hybrid work has completely dissipated in favour of a ‘work from anywhere’ mentality.
While there are many advantages to flexible working styles, no change is seamless. Even remote work has its own set of challenges. Research has found that 98 per cent of the workforce has frequent frustrations with video meetings at home – especially poor audio, too many people talking at once and background noise. Though they may seem small at first, these frustrations can build over time and ultimately impact an employee’s productivity, overall happiness and mental wellbeing.
And with remote work here to stay, the number of ad-hoc collaboration and video meetings with co-workers, customers and partners will continue to rise. Fortunately, organisations such as Microsoft are taking charge and developing additional features for platforms like Microsoft Teams to enhance the collaboration experience. Today, there are several solutions on the market that can provide better work environments with advanced workplace technology that will empower users to perform.
Research has shown that 96 per cent of companies can provide better work environments with intelligent workplace technology – especially smarter devices that recognise users. One such type of technology is an Intelligent Speaker for Microsoft Teams Room. This new category in the Microsoft portfolio will be a game changer for today’s working professionals across industries such as healthcare, finance, media, human resources and consulting.
The use of intelligent speakers levels the playing field and empowers professionals whether they are working remote or from the office. Often remote workers can feel left out of the loop, as not being physically present makes it easier for them to miss out on who is saying what during a meeting. But with an intelligent speaker, both new and existing Teams users can create more inclusive meeting experiences for all.
The use of an intelligent speaker, built for mid-sized Microsoft Teams Rooms with 8-10 in-room participants, gives meeting participants a high-quality speaker that automates live transcriptions. The transcription then enables remote participants to follow what is being said and by whom, for optimal collaboration and communication.
Intelligent speakers such as the EPOS EXPAND Capture 5 use advanced voice recognition technology. Powered by Microsoft artificial intelligence (AI), the speaker is able to identify each participant by their voice, even in situations where people in the meeting are talking over each other. From there, the speaker automatically transcribes a live feed so that participants arriving late to the meeting can easily catch up. This is made possible via a premium speaker and seven-microphone array that altogether enable superior audio and voice recognition to ensure a natural conversation, as if all meeting participants were in the same room. It’s easy for users to set up their personal voice signature in the Teams app. Once set up, all voice data is stored in the Microsoft cloud and protected by enterprise-grade security and privacy. IT admins may modify settings and rules for individuals or the entire organisation. They can also delete some, or all the data, at any time.
Once the meeting is over, advanced search options make decision-making and assigning actions easy. Designed with the Microsoft voice assistant Cortana in mind, high-quality speech capture also empowers users to speak to Cortana with confidence.
By combining advanced audio with innovative communication, AI and collaboration technology, intelligent speakers address the varying needs of professionals working together across workspaces, locations and time zones. They enable professionals to meet the reality of the hybrid workplace and unite colleagues efficiently by taking virtual meetings to the next level.
Now that we have accepted and successfully transitioned into this ‘new normal’ and the hybrid workplace, it is important to recognise that we have reached a critical moment in time. There is a big opportunity for businesses to really rethink the meeting room and adapt it to fit today’s more modern way of working. In doing this, businesses can create an environment where their employees, customers and partners can all be productive, regardless of their location. The first step? Invest in advanced intelligent technology, such as a speaker, to deliver even richer experiences for remote and in-room meeting participants.
Theis Mørk is the vice president of product management at EPOS
This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.
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