Adopting technologies that reduce workplace distractions

Poly offers solutions to address audible distraction in open spaces, as well as technologies that make huddle rooms as powerful as traditional board rooms. Here, Sam Kennedy Chief Product Evangelist and Senior Director, Global Product Management, Poly Inc., briefs about the advanced workplace equipment.

VnD: How is Poly using different technologies for better communication and collaboration?

Sam Kennedy: Plantronics, and Polycom have come together as one new company: Poly. By combining the legendary audio expertise of Plantronics’ and Polycom’s renowned video and conferencing capabilities, we address the critical communication issues that businesses are facing in the modern workplace.

Poly is uniquely positioned to serve a growing market of enterprise communication and collaboration services (UC&C). Our endpoints, whether it is headphones, deskphones, video- and audio-conferencing solutions, play a critical role in the modern workspace. Our portfolio of hardware and software is designed to increase productivity, and simplify the customers’ and partners’ experience. Poly focuses on four distinct areas of innovation:

Making workspaces intuitively work for everyone. The modern open office has introduced distraction and noise into the work place, leading to lower productivity and employee satisfaction. Poly offers solutions to address the audible distraction in open spaces, and technologies that make huddle rooms as powerful as traditional board rooms.

Helping people collaborate: People are now using two or more collaboration solutions in any given day and need endpoints that work with and across those solutions. Poly offers a wide range of solutions to meet this growing need in a simple and consistent way.

Designing solutions mobile-first for the modern workforce: Whether it is using a personal smartphone as a “business phone”, or navigating through a day where personal and business blend, workers need voice and video capabilities that move with them. Poly’s new Elara 60 phone recognizes this is the new normal, and joins Poly’s award-winning mobile headsets to give people high-quality tools to be productive from anywhere.

Advancing cloud services that help IT pros and users get more out of their devices: As the macro trend of end-user empowerment continues, IT pros are more challenged to know what is being used, and where. Poly is focused on making easy-to-use solutions also easy to manage.


VnD: Elaborate on the open office peril. How can one go around that? 

Sam Kennedy: More and more companies are moving to modern, open-plan offices, if they don’t have them already.

But, open offices come with a significant downside. The jump in noise and distraction for open office workers lowers their productivity and job satisfaction, and can even hinder customer relationships. The extent of the distraction today’s open office workers are dealing with is severe. Everyone is getting distracted at work to some degree, and 4 out of 10 reports they are always or very often distracted.

Companies can work around the distractions in open office by:

Creating quiet zones: One way is to look at creatively thinking about space for calm within the office. This can be done by creating quiet zones where people use noise-cancelling headphones and step away for calls. Or, they can also carve out space for huddle rooms/small meeting rooms, and phone booths. These are equipped with audio-video and content-sharing platforms that drive better workplace efficiency.

Adopting technologies that reduce distractions: In this day and age, the employees are also open to exploring technology to help them be more productive. Organizations should look to learn about the approaches, technologies and best practices being used to eliminate noise and distractions in the open office, before finding proven technology vendors to help pilot, measure and manage those solutions.

With a few technological tweaks, open offices can push back against the chaos—helping workers stay happier and more productive.


VnD: Touch upon your latest USB-based video conferencing solution that was launched in India.

Sam Kennedy: Today’s open office spaces have resulted in an explosion of smaller meeting spaces, or “huddle rooms. But, of an estimated 32 million huddle rooms globally, only two percent of those spaces include equipment for videoconferencing (as per a report by Frost and Sullivan), which is becoming increasingly important for the mobile workforce. The rooms may be small, but not the ideas that businesses are counting on coming out of those rooms.

Polycom Studio’s HD audio and video clarity brings boardroom capability to even the smallest of spaces.

Bringing premium performance to huddle spaces everywhere, Polycom Studio delivers business-class audio and video capabilities in an easy-to-use USB video bar. With Studio, teams can experience a new level of meeting engagement, with automatic camera tracking that zooms in on the conference participant who is speaking. This easy-to-use USB video bar takes the frustration out of the typical huddle room video conference, and replaces it with user-friendly experiences.

With a simple USB connection, any PC or Mac can leverage the power of Polycom Studio to elevate audio and video meeting experiences. Its patented NoiseBlock and Acoustic Fence technologies reduce or eliminate distracting noise from office environments for professional-sounding communications.

Automatic speaker tracking focuses on whoever is speaking within an ultra-wide 120-degree field of view. With 4K resolution and 5x electronic zoom, Polycom Studio provides TV studio-like quality and experiences in a meeting.

The Polycom Studio works with most collaboration platforms and it can be centrally managed for a more intelligent experience. It’s fully compatible with video conferencing applications like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Skype for Business, Google Meet, Cisco Webex, and Amazon Chime.


VnD: How has the Plantronics-Polycom relationship progressed so far? What’s in line for the future?

Sam Kennedy: The relationship has been excellent, and we have come together as one company, Poly.

Both of our teams have navigated our changing industries over the years, and bring similar cultures of quality and service, deep engineering talent, and clear communications. We’ve come through the waves of market changes to a tipping point where we are better positioned together than we were before on our own. Customers are extremely excited about Poly. We are now their one-stop shop for all their collaboration needs.

Plantronics and Polycom have led the way in designing collaboration technology that people actually want to use: from wearables that fit in with our individual personal style to sleek conference phones that fit in with our modern workplaces.

With our two companies combined, we can deliver communication and collaboration experiences for every environment, workspace, and worker.


VnD: What is the focus of Poly over the next few months/any upcoming products? 

Sam Kennedy: First, we’re making a strategic play for huddle rooms – those small spaces in open offices where people gather spontaneously.

  • Huddle rooms are exploding in popularity as gathering places in open offices, but are largely underequipped.
  • Out of an estimated 32 million huddle rooms globally, only two percent of those spaces contain videoconferencing equipment that would allow those meetings to be efficient. This gives us a great opportunity for us to provide our videoconferencing solutions for huddle rooms.

Secondly, Poly aims to be the solution of choice whenever and wherever collaboration clouds reach people. We are already working closely with industry leaders like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, and take an open-architecture approach that ensures users of all the best technologies can seamlessly connect.

  • The cloud is great for many things, but the experience each of us has with the cloud is truly personal. We believe the cloud experience is only as good as the personal experience, and that’s the hardware its running on.
  • When and where the cloud actually touches you – through a speaker, headset, or video — Poly delivers the smart hardware that allows people to be productive in today’s workplace environment. We have great products and are bringing even better ones to market over the next couple quarters. These products will let us solidify our place as a leader in the ecosystem of the future.

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