Hybrid work has lost its precise definition. During the height of the pandemic, “hybrid” was considered a combination of remote and in-office work. Now it has come to mean many things, with work being conducted everywhere from the boardroom to the baseball field (speaking for a friend). Employees have enjoyed the greater flexibility, shorter commutes and increased agency of working from home. Meanwhile, employers have realized cost savings, decreased their carbon footprints and enjoyed the quality-of-life benefits that offering a hybrid work model for workers provides. That said, the current trend of work-from-anywhere wasn't really a planned feature; it was a bug—one that landed on a whole generation of workers who were unprepared for it.
Like many technologies during the past couple of years, collaboration platforms and remote or hybrid work tools took a massive leap in terms of innovation and functionality. The leap has been so immense that I can't believe there was a time when I had to mute my line because my neighbor's dog was barking, felt awkward about where to look during an online meeting or scurried to clean up my work background before I started a video call. Fast forward a year, and AI-driven features can cancel out noise, focus your gaze and put you in the middle of a gorgeous virtual office. Cameras can concentrate on a single person or zoom out to capture multiple participants in a smaller space. At this point, hybrid work collaboration tools should probably be called work sanity tools—and HP and Poly are helping deliver that sanity.
HP Poly expands its hybrid work productivity and collaboration product offerings
This week at ISE (Integrated Systems Europe) in Barcelona, audio-video and systems integrators showcased the latest and greatest productivity and collaboration tools from leading technology innovators and solutions providers. Poly, now part of HP's portfolio of hybrid work solutions that creates premium audio and video products, announced the bundling of its pro-grade mini conferencing PC with Microsoft Teams as part of its Poly Studio Room Kits, creating “a complete Microsoft Teams Room solution experience now integrated with HP compute for meeting rooms of any size,” per the company's announcement.
Patrick Moorhead, chief analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, has written before about Poly's pro-grade collaboration devices, such as the Studio R30 and Acoustic Fence,noting, “A common theme that I have seen within the digital transformation of businesses, in this case of how businesses conduct meetings, is that technologies like video conferencing are not here to mimic the legacy way of doing meetings. It is here to make it better and, overall, a more productive experience for all parties.”
The average worker spends three hours weekly in meetings, while 30% of workers spend more than five hours per week, according to Booqed.com. Since 2020, the number of workers attending meetings has increased by 13.5%. Considering these numbers, all those meetings need to be better and more productive experiences! Here I'll break down some of Poly's announcements this week, what they mean for the hybrid workforce and what trends they signal.
Unveiling Microsoft Teams-certified solutions for hybrid work
The big announcement this week is that the Poly Studio Room Kits and the Microsoft Teams-certified HP Mini Conferencing PC can now be combined to offer a complete Microsoft Teams Room solution for meetings of all sizes. The HP Mini Conferencing PC is powered by Windows IoT and a 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, providing users with a powerful and immersive videoconferencing experience. HP Wolf Security for business and integrated management lets IT sleep at night with full-stack security and layered resiliency from hardware to cloud.
The company announced additional Microsoft Teams-certified devices for on-the-job or on-the-go connectivity:
—Poly CCX 350 is an IP desk phone with a physical dial pad that’s certified by Microsoft Teams, ideal for high-traffic common areas, retail, manufacturing or lab environments and designed for multiple users. The entry-level phone has not-so-entry-level features such as Poly Acoustic Fence and NoiseBlockAI technologies. Its full-duplex speakerphone cancels echo noise as well.
—Poly Voyager Free 60 Series wireless earbuds with hybrid and adaptive active noise canceling (ANC) and advanced noise-blocking algorithms ensure crystal-clear audio on both sides of the call. Each bud has a three-mic array that triangulates on your voice and minimizes surrounding noise. Ergonomically speaking, these wireless earbuds seem like a winner, even for all-day use. They come with three sizes of conical ear tips and advanced sidetone technology to keep users aware of their voice level to eliminate strain. The touchscreen display on the case shows call information and seamlessly switches between input devices, even in flight.
Collaboration, interoperability and reliability are all critical to success
Whether a company uses one platform for all business communication and collaboration or needs to jump between different providers quickly and easily, solutions like Poly provide employees, partners and customers with the best experience possible. In addition to its deep integration with Microsoft Teams, Poly integrates with Zoom, Google and more. That gives users an immersive, native meeting experience regardless of whom they are meeting with or which system they use. The company's solutions provide standards-based interoperability, allowing remote and hybrid workforces to switch between UC platforms easily. Device interfaces are intuitive, and technical support can be handled through IT management tools or managed by Poly.
The future of work is now
We talk a lot these days about the “future of work.” While that definition continues to evolve, we must optimize for our current work state. Yet there's an ongoing challenge in hybrid work setups to ensure consistent, high-quality conferencing and communication experiences in various settings. It’s an even bigger challenge because no universal collaboration solution will suit everyone, as each space and user has unique needs.
Poly's deepened integration with Microsoft Teams and its enhanced compute capabilities as part of the HP family signals its ability to keep leading the way with innovative solutions as the future truly reveals itself. I’m particularly looking forward to testing out the Voyager Free earbuds while taking a call from the stands at my kids’ baseball games to truly experience the innovations that Poly is delivering for hybrid work.