Before the pandemic, Microsoft’s video collaboration software wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today. So what is Microsoft Teams Rooms? Read on to get the low down!

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe in early 2020, remote work suddenly became the new norm. Companies that had never experimented with allowing their employees to work from home were suddenly forced to adopt an entirely new set of digital working conditions. Zoom Rooms setup became one of the top searches.

Now that COVID-related restrictions are easing in much of the world, some employees return to the office full-time. However, many companies have found that allowing their employees to work entirely or partially remotely is beneficial for everyone involved: companies cut costs while employees enjoy flexibility. 

As companies increasingly seek to operate in fully remote or hybrid capacities, using the right digital infrastructure has never been more critical. Like a physical office building, digital workspaces need to be secure and dependable and must have the tools to make organization and communication easy. 

For many businesses, meeting face-to-face is essential for operations. A high-quality physical office space has screens, speakers, whiteboards, and other collaboration tools. Therefore, choosing a digital interface that supports and enhances collaboration between team members is essential to success.

Microsoft takes on hybrid work

The uptick in remote work over the past 18 months has caused a boom in digital communication tools for businesses. When it comes to digital workspaces that support video conferencing, there are several popular options to choose from: Zoom, BlueJeans, Google Meet, and RingCentral, to name just a few. Microsoft – already a staple of office worldwide – accelerated its investments in Teams, which has become the centerpiece of its unified communications product suite. 

Even though it had been available before, Microsoft Teams emerged as a leading platform for remote work throughout the past 18 months. As corporations rushed to accommodate remote work, the platform added some 95 million users — and became one of the fastest-growing apps of the year! Today, Microsoft Teams has 145 million daily active users across over 500,000 organizations. It’s fast become the digital backbones for remote collaboration among the world’s buiggest companies, who have added the tool alongside other Microsoft products. 

Why is Microsoft Teams so popular? And how can you leverage the platform to get the most out of the Microsoft Teams Rooms experience? Here’s what to know as you prepare for the Return to Work. 

All about Microsoft Teams

For enterprises that are outside of the Slack/Zoom ecosystem, Microsoft Teams is one of the must-have tools of the hybrid workplace. The software includes digital collaboration tools, with  productivity tools, email hosting capabilities, and It also includes video conferencing — which is called Microsoft Teams Rooms. 

Similar to Zoom Rooms, there are full HD audio and video capabilities that are embedded within hardware that’s designed for conference rooms, huddle rooms and even the home office. That way, no matter where teams work from in the hybrid workplace , they can stay connected and productive.

Microsoft Teams Rooms can connect physical and digital workspaces.

For example, the Surface Hub 2S is an “all-in-one digital whiteboard and meetings platform” that can be used seamlessly in Teams Rooms hybrid video conferencing. Microsoft has also optimized for specific headsets, cameras, and other pieces of hardware for use with Microsoft Teams Rooms. Here’s all the Teams-enabled gear

Beyond hardware integration, one of the biggest selling points for Microsoft Teams is the fact that it’s designed to integrate seamlessly with many of Microsoft’s other products. Specifically, Teams natively integrates with Microsoft 365, Powerpoint, Microsoft Word, and other Microsoft Office products. These direct integrations simplify the workflow across teams and companies. Plus, for IT managers, this means there’s no custom builds or third-party integrations, which means lower costs and fewer headaches on the operational support side.

Additionally, there are more than 700 partner apps that integrate with Teams. These apps span dozens of use cases, many of them are focused on facilitating the process of digital collaboration. Used in conjunction with conferencing in Microsoft Teams Rooms, these apps can enhance the collaborative experience by augmenting teams’ ability to work both in real-time and asynchronously. 

So, for example, team members that are problem-solving in a Teams Room conference could also be sketching in MURAL, creating flowcharts in Cacoo, taking notes in Freehand, assigning tasks in Trello, or making changes to scripts in Teams’ GitHub app. 

Freehand can integrate with Microsoft Teams to provide  collaborative visual spaces during Teams Rooms video conferencing. 

Even with all these integrations, Teams Rooms are also equipped with collaborative functions so that teams can get work done without any third-party apps.

Features include a “hand-raising” function, a shared digital whiteboard, and intelligent capture features, such as paragraphs and tables that stay updated as everyone contributes. There are also checklists, task lists and agendas, all via Microsoft OneNote, that keeps everyone on the same page. 

Costs, bandwidth, and other considerations 

Adopting Microsoft Teams can also save money for businesses. Teams is a free add-on for current Microsoft 365 Business customers. Microsoft 365 Business charges variable monthly rates on a per team-member basis. There is also a free version of Microsoft Teams. 

Microsoft Teams subscription pricing options

Video conferencing in Microsoft Teams Rooms can also save on bandwidth costs. For example, Zoom requires between 1 Mbps and 3 Mbps for video streaming, depending on the quality and number of call participants.

Microsoft Teams, by contrast, uses just 1.2 Mbps for one-on-one HD video calling (720p), 1.5 megabytes per second (Mbps) for 1080p, and 500 kilobytes per second (Kbps) for standard quality video (360p). Standard group video requires just 1mbps, while HD group video uses about 2mbps. At scale, with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of employees, these differences can make a massive difference in an organization’s ability to handle video streaming. 

When scheduling calls with clients, conferences in Microsoft Teams Rooms are not always an option–often, clients prefer to meet on a video conferencing platform of their own choice. To make the most flexible tool possible, Microsoft Teams can support video conferencing on VoIP platforms other than Teams Rooms. Teams is capable of integrating with Zoom, Cisco Webex Meetings, RingCentral, and others. 

As the future of remote and hybrid work continues to flourish, IT personnel and office managers will face a new set of challenges and opportunities. To learn more about how to make the most of your remote or hybrid working infrastructure, click here. 

Whether fully remote, hybrid or only in-person, let’s optimize your workspaces for peak collaboration. Schedule a consultation today!