New Tools for the Mobile Workforce
You may have heard the phrase, “Work is a thing you do, not a place where you go.” This has never been truer than in today’s environment, as workers across industries and regions are now working from home in order to maintain “social distancing.” In today’s challenging environment, the way we work and collaborate is changing, requiring new tools to help employees be more efficient from wherever they may be working.
New Work Styles
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the workforce and workplace have been changing, with remote work on the rise. Upwork found that 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028, while Forbes notes that remote work will become the standard operating mode for at least 50% of the U.S. population. With the recent mandate for many workers to work from home (WFH), expect these numbers to increase, as employees and businesses recognize the value of WFH. Remote work has been shown to increase worker productivity and employee retention, reduce sick days and employee time off, increase workforce diversity and the employee talent pool, reduce real estate costs for businesses, benefit the environment, and more.
In addition, over the past decade we’ve experienced the “gig economy,” with contractors and freelancers who work either remotely or at workspaces in open offices. Flexible work, defined as a working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, such as having flexible start and finish times, or working from home, is becoming so popular that the right to request flexible working was extended to all UK employees in 2014, as both businesses and workers benefit from flexible working.
According to “The State of Remote Work” survey by Buffer, 84% of remote worker respondents use their home as their primary work location, followed by coworking spaces. The study also found that 40% of the remote worker respondents work for companies where some workers are remote and some work out of the same office, requiring support for both office and remote workers.
This leads to the need for new tools and technologies. According to Forbes, 81% of CEOs see mobile technologies as being strategically important for their enterprises. We’ve seen the rise of team collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc. at an increasing rate as remote workers use these tools to connect and collaborate. Virtual meetings are more frequent, as workers are no longer in the same physical location and need to collaborate with colleagues, customers, partners, and suppliers in various locations.
With the rise of mobility and remote work, challenges also arise. For example, according to a 2019 study from Igloo Software, 55% of remote workers have been excluded from meetings or brainstorming sessions because of their remote location, and 57% missed out on important information because it is communicated in person.
This raises the need for improved conferencing and collaboration capabilities to make mobile, remote, and “gig” workers more engaged.
Speakerphones to the Rescue
Speakerphones have been around for years, but the current generation technology has come a long way, making it easy and convenient to participate in virtual meetings and conference calls from any location. Today’s speakerphones are lightweight and compact enough to easily carry around for ad hoc multi-person meetings in any location. No longer just used in formal conference rooms, new portable speakerphones can be used for personal use, in the huddle room, personal workspaces, small meeting rooms, as well as the home office and even hotel rooms. Remote workers can have a professional conferencing experience from any location.
Building on the team collaboration trend, some speakerphones are optimized for conferencing applications such as Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex Team, Google Hangout, Zoom, and others.
Yealink’s CP700 and CP900
One vendor that has been working to improve the conference and meeting experience is Yealink, which introduced a new family of speaker phones for remote and home workers, as well as those that simply prefer a more comfortable and convenient communication device. Whether used in a huddle room, a home office, a hotel room, or a private office, Yealink’s speaker phones provide high sound quality at a competitive price point.
Yealink’s new CP700 and CP900 speaker phones are based on a lightweight design and are small and compact enough to carry in a computer bag or backpack (they even come with a zipper bag for traveling convenience). The CP900 is a high-end USB/Bluetooth speaker for meetings with up to six people, offering 12-hour talk time. The CP700 is a middle-end USB/Bluetooth speaker aimed at one-to-four users and “on-the-go business professionals.” Both devices feature Wideband audio, noise suppression technology to block out background noise, echo cancellation, a full-duplex experience, HD voice quality, 360-degree voice pick up, and dynamic EQ for meetings and calls, as well as music. The CP700 features two omnidirectional microphones, while the CP900 boasts six. The devices connect to PCs, tablets, and smartphones through Bluetooth and USB with up to two simultaneous connections.
Each device comes in either a Microsoft Teams version or a general version that is compatible with Google and Zoom Voice (certification will be coming later this year). Both versions offer multiple buttons for call control, volume, mute, etc., while the Microsoft Teams version adds a Microsoft Teams-dedicated button for Teams functions or to access Cortana Voice Assistance. The Teams button lights up to indicate incoming Teams calls or an upcoming meeting. Users can control a meeting or access features in Teams or other UC applications, such as Zoom or Google Hangouts. In addition, the general version allows users to access Siri from an iPhone, iPad, or an Apple laptop.
One interesting feature is the LED Light-Ring Power Indication, which displays the amount of battery power remaining.
According to Yealink, its speaker phones offer improved sound quality and more natural sounding voice. They can be used for personal use or bundled in with Yealink video solutions designed to adapt to different meeting room layouts and sizes. For huddle rooms, a built-in battery makes it easy to connect to a mobile phone without requiring a USB connection.
While there are other speaker phones on the market from companies with more name and brand recognition than Yealink, Yealink hopes to find a niche with companies looking for cost effective options that offer high quality audio, an easy-to-use interface providing a variety of functions, tight Microsoft Teams integration, and integration with other Yealink devices taking advantage of the Yealink Device Management Platform. Yealink provides the Yealink Connect for free to simplify the process of managing Yealink USB devices of speakerphone, including:
- Monitoring usage
- Accessing device information
- Remote diagnoses
- Firmware update
- Configure with BT dongle for pairing
Yealink’s speaker phones can be used by a variety of worker types, including remote and mobile workers working at home, in huddle rooms, or in their office. For those who dislike wearing a headset all day, speaker phones offer a more comfortable alternative while providing high-quality audio. Due to its light weight and compact size, these devices can also be brought along on business trips to make it easy for individuals or small groups to join a conference call from a hotel room or small meeting room.
The way we work is changing, and the ability to work remotely will become even more popular in the coming months. Yealink’s speakerphones can help these communicate and collaborate with high-quality audio, while sounding professional from any location.
This paper is sponsored by Yealink