Love it or hate it, remote work has become prevalent. According to Forbes Advisor, as of 2023, 12.7% of full-time employees work from home, while 28.2% work a hybrid model.1 This stickiness of remote work has led companies to review their technology needs for ways to improve the hybrid workplace–namely, how to improve online meetings and help employees stay productive.
We’ve observed one technology evolve over the past few years that seems to address the unique needs of a hybrid workplace: the Microsoft Surface Hub.2 The Surface Hub is a large-screen device (up to 85 inches) with all the capabilities of a premium touchscreen laptop, including a 4K screen, AI-powered smart camera, and far-field microphone and speakers. By using the Surface Hub with the full range of Microsoft productivity apps like Teams and Microsoft 365, companies can enhance teamwork and video conferencing for different business scenarios, such as brainstorming meetings, collaborations on product designs and marketing campaigns, and sales presentations to customers.
Here are some of the benefits we see in using the Surface Hub.
A unified experience for remote and in-office workers
We’ve all had the feeling of being isolated, especially when joining a meeting from a remote location. The Surface Hub can be a powerful tool to help companies improve collaboration and productivity for hybrid work by giving workers a consistent, unified experience. It can also be used to improve the meeting experience and make better human connections between company teams and customers, especially since everyone can see facial expressions and body language while they clearly hear what’s being said.
When the Surface Hub is used with Microsoft Teams Rooms, each participant can access the same meeting controls and popular features, including Together Mode scenes, background noise suppression, chat bubbles, and live reactions. Participants can easily access Microsoft 365 files and present their work in Microsoft Teams. Another interesting feature is the Microsoft Whiteboard, which brings the Windows desktop to the large screen and allows multiple participants to draw and ink on a graphic, document, or presentation at the same time, regardless of whether they’re connected to the meeting on their phone, tablet, or laptop.
Remote participants can get a dynamic “you are there” view of in-room interactions with sharp foreground and background focus. One issue that limits participation by remote callers is the inability to know who is speaking and to respond. Certain models of Surface Hub come with an AI-powered smart camera that auto-frames the video feed for remote participants, giving them the best view of everything in the room. And in-office meeting attendees get the benefit of seeing everything clearly on a large screen. Surface Hub has a high-resolution, 4K Microsoft PixelSense display so that content is visible and in sharp focus in any lighting condition, which helps everyone in the room communicate more effectively in a more immersive meeting experience. Remote workers who call in to a meeting get the same view of everything as do in-office colleagues, as well as clear audio of whomever is speaking. Two microphone arrays and speaker pairings and smart AV help optimize audio based on device orientation.
More real estate to work with
One thing that remote, call-in meetings usually lack is an interactive space for creativity and ideation. In the office, teams normally would gather in a conference room and use a whiteboard, printed mockups, large drawing pads, and sticky notes on walls to collectively brainstorm and doodle. With the large-screen visuals of Surface Hub, employees can bring this type of organic, fluid collaboration online for more productive meetings. When the meeting is over, everything can be saved and sent to team members or anyone else who might have missed the session. No need to gather papers and clean up after the meeting or manually enter handwritten notes into a laptop. The new Surface Hub 3 also comes with Smart Rotation and Portrait features that allow employees to physically rotate the display between a portrait or landscape orientation. That way, they can adapt the screen layout to their needs, whether they need a large space for a group whiteboarding session or a smaller space for a more focused one-on-one call.
Technology is improving all the time to help workplaces address challenges. Not all industries and fields can support a largely remote workforce, but recent innovations such as Surface Hub are making it easier for workers to be more productive and collaborative no matter where they’re located.
Read more about workplace productivity in the following Prowess articles and reports:
- How to Improve Workflow with Modern SharePoint Online – Prowess (prowessconsulting.com)
- To learn more about what we do at Prowess Consulting, view our latest research and follow us on LinkedIn.