After dealing with pandemic-induced changes to the workplace for more than half the year, many organizations’ leaders are convinced the future will require embracing a hybrid workplace: Employees will work in the office some days and from a remote location on others. And now that businesses have months of experience with work from home on top of years of experience with working on site, they know choosing the right technology for employees makes a big difference.
The key to this challenge is employees must have devices that support the hybrid approach effectively, so they can be fully productive no matter where they are working. Anything less will negatively affect the employee experience. Into this situation steps Microsoft, whose Surface portfolio of devices is designed to optimize the hybrid work experience.
Many employees are working remotely using devices that make hybrid work more difficult and frustrating than it should be. Moreover, diversity in your team and their workstyle needs requires an equally diverse yet unified set of solutions. Surface devices can provide a best-in-class experience for specific hybrid work activities and demands. These six nearly universal use cases for supporting hybrid work have outsized impact:
- Team collaboration and brainstorming: Improving collaboration activities for groups of physically dispersed employees is critical. Surface and Microsoft apps deliver a step-function improvement. For example, Microsoft Whiteboard enables a higher level of brainstorming by allowing all team members to edit, annotate or add to a digital whiteboard session. Using digital inking with a Surface device that supports both touch and pen input is a big step forward. Coupled with Microsoft Teams, a tool designed to enhance collaboration and joint work, Microsoft Whiteboard enables more productivity than trying to force-fit a limited-function video conferencing tool. Surface delivers the platform needed to improve collaboration and brainstorming activities.
- Premium online meetings: Online meetings will continue to be a fact of life after the pandemic is over, but much needs to be done to improve upon the basics of the technology. Surface products have highly capable AV subsystems such as far-field studio-quality microphones and Dolby® Audio™. Surface's goal with these features is to create an experience that makes people feel like they're together even when they're not. This means having AV features that enhance sound—both what you hear and how you sound to others. Video quality is also improved, including the way you're projected to others through HD cameras and how you see others through high-res displays. And with an HD camera that can track attendees’ faces as they move, the visual experience is noticeably better. In addition, the ability to link files, whiteboard images and other data created on Surface devices via Teams improves the meeting experience after the event ends.
- Accessibility and inclusion: As hybrid work becomes the norm, it will be essential to include everyone and improve access. Surface devices coupled with Microsoft 365 software deliver on this need. Enhancing the ability to use text in online meetings is important, and with both closed captioning and transcription, meetings are more inclusive and more seamless. Another key feature is translation functionality. Many collaborative gatherings and meetings occur across borders and cultures, so translation is essential to hybrid work. The Immersive Reader helps those who aren’t native or fluent English speakers and makes understanding meeting content simpler for those with learning disabilities.
- Improved employee experience: IT and management teams know the digital employee experience must improve. Simplicity is a key component, and Surface devices with Microsoft tools make it easy to move from task to task or among locations with no annoying interruptions. The experience with this solution is just as easy and integrated as that with consumer technology offerings. Employees want devices that are first-rate technically but that also have style and design elements that make them stand apart. Surface devices have won numerous awards for their industrial design, which makes them devices that employees are proud to own and that deliver great digital experiences.
- Bridging the gap between in-office and remote: Hybrid workplaces focus on completing work, not on where the work is done. The Surface portfolio includes Surface Hub, a 50 and 85-in. interactive display providing an “empowered office” anywhere. The Surface Hub includes a brilliant 4K screen supporting both pen and touch input. The 4K camera provides highly detailed video output. Surface Hub also includes enhanced microphones and speakers to complete the package. And it is powered by Windows 10 so you can use familiar apps like PowerPoint and easily share files for collaboration. Full mobility is enabled by a mobile stand that includes a battery to power the device, making cords unnecessary. Now, any location can become a full-function digital conference room. Moving forward, you'll have employees in the office and at home. Surface Hub brings together meeting and collaboration capabilities to bring people together no matter where they are.
- Next-generation management tools: One of the most important lessons learned about hybrid work is that the ability to manage and secure hybrid workflows is essential. Surface products are built to support modern management. Modern management is the combination of cloud-based security and management platforms, Microsoft Intune and Windows Autopilot, to empower workers to be secure and productive anywhere and relieve the burden on IT by providing lower touch, automated deployment and ongoing management and maintenance. IT teams no longer have to waste precious resources doing one-off device management tasks.
The combination of Surface devices and Microsoft 365 software tools doesn’t just enable hybrid work; it delivers it in an optimal manner as well. The Surface solution provides clear and obvious improvements to the status quo for both employees and the IT team. With a broad range of devices from cost-efficient entry solutions to the most powerful mobile devices, as well as special-function models such as Surface Studio, it is now possible to deliver on the promise of hybrid work.
*Microsoft Surface, Microsoft Teams and some Microsoft accessories are sold separately.