We are rolling out Microsoft Teams Rooms!

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Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Council meeting spaces have been limited. Traditional ‘face-to-face’ meetings have now predominantly moved to a virtual setting. Whilst this has been an effective method to conduct meetings, as lockdown restrictions ease now is the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate our approach to meeting spaces and how we use them. The Council is keen to make use of technologies available that allow us to conduct hybrid  meetings.  Consequently, we have decided to implement Microsoft Teams Rooms into our meeting rooms spaces. Teams’ Rooms’ enables participants to join from a meeting space within a council building as well as remotely. 

The team has conducted business wide user research via Microsoft Forms to understand the needs of the Council and its partners. The results of the user research work will enable us to provide solutions which are fit for purpose and ‘future proof’. 


The team have also collaborated with our external vendors and partners to understand the wider market in relation to hybrid meeting technologies. They have provided us with subject matter expert advice and recommendations which align with our internal user research. 


To date, we have implemented a proof-of-concept Teams Room space which incorporates a ‘ThinkSmart Hub 500’ device, a large display and an ultra-wide 4K camera. This has been popular with some of our external meetings and for conducting hybrid interviews. Please check out the pictures below!

A wide-angle view of our proof-of-concept Microsoft Teams Room.
A wide-angle view of our proof-of-concept Microsoft Teams Room.
The Lenovo ThinkSmart Hub 500 MTR device connected to a wide angle 4K camera and large display.
The Lenovo ThinkSmart Hub 500 MTR device connected to a wide angle 4K camera and large display.

We are proposing four solution models to implement into our meeting spaces:

Solution Model 1 – Display Upgrade:

This model is suited to our ‘very large’ meeting spaces which have a capacity of over 20 people. These spaces are mainly used for ‘in-person’ presentations. The solution would incorporate a large touchscreen display with built in speakers and a trolley system for manoeuvrability.

Solution Model 2 – Teams Rooms:  

This model is suited to our ‘large’ meeting spaces which have a capacity of over 12 people. These spaces are mainly used for general meetings and conferences. These rooms are also used by our external partners when collaborating with the Council. This solution would incorporate an MTR device, two large displays (for content sharing and video), wireless microphones which can adapt to changing layouts of spaces, a dedicated speaker system and finally a content camera which can capture physical whiteboards. 

Solution Model 3 – Teams Rooms:

This model is suited to our ‘medium’ meeting spaces which have a capacity of over 6 people. These spaces are mainly used for team meetings and interviews. The solution would incorporate an ‘all-in-one’ MTR device featuring a speaker, a 360-degree microphone and a touch screen display. The solution also includes a large display for video and content sharing. 

Solution Model 4 – All in One Monitor:

This model is suited to smaller and flexible collaboration spaces such as stand-up areas and meeting pods. These spaces have a capacity of up to six people and are mainly used for quick meetings and collaboration e.g., workshops. The layout of these spaces can also adapt, depending on its intended use. The solution would incorporate an all-in-one monitor containing a speaker, microphone, and a wide-angle camera. Users of this solution would bring their own device to connect to the monitor, which is 27 inch in size, connects to the user’s device with a single USB-C cable and has a smart traffic light LED system to alert others to when you are busy or available. 

As a result of implementing these solutions, several benefits will be realised. These will include:

  • A reduction of mileage associated costs for the Council and its partners due to staff not needing to travel to external sites for meetings. 
  • An increase in productivity due to time being saved not travelling to sites for meetings. 
  • Allowing the Council to keep up with digital change by implementing the latest technologies which will in turn allow the Council to become more digitally able.
  • Future proofing our meeting spaces to ensure a reduction of costs in the future. 

Watch this space! As we move forward in implementing our new meeting spaces vision, we will be posting a follow up blog! 

Hybrid meetings - A hybrid meeting is a meeting where some participants join from the office and others join remotely, this is enabled by audio and video conferencing technology & content sharing
 

By Mo Patel on 14th Jul 2021
Mo Patel is part of the Office 365 team at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council