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Zoom Rooms updates aim to facilitate hybrid working

Remote receptionists, virtual whiteboards and Alexa are set to keep us safe when we return to the office

Zoom Rooms monitors

Zoom has revealed a number of new updates for its Zoom Rooms video conferencing hardware suite that showcase the company's idea of the hybrid office

The new features are aimed at businesses that will keep a portion of their workforce remote for some time after offices reopen or on a permanent basis. 

Zoom Rooms is a suite of tablets, monitors and webcams that organisations use throughout their place of work to enable staff to schedule, conduct and remotely connect to meetings. The company is now doubling-down on the remote element as businesses look at ways to safely return to workspaces. 

"Many organisations will likely take a gradual, phased approach to bring employees back to the office full time," Zoom's senior product manager, Cynthia Lee, wrote in a blog post. "When this happens, IT leaders and line-of-business managers will then face the challenge of supporting in-office and remote workers simultaneously.

"Businesses can use technology to empower workers wherever they are, streamline collaboration between in-office and remote workers, and make the transition back into the office as seamless as possible." 

To start with, when you come back to the office you could be greeted by a virtual receptionist. This uses Zoom's 'Kiosk Mode' and a touchscreen device that in-office workers and visitors can operate under the guidance of a remote receptionist. 

Zoom's virtual receptionist greeting a visitor

For meetings themselves, users can now pair iOS and Android mobile devices with Zoom Room meetings. This will include access to room controls and the ability to start and join meetings via the Zoom Rooms Controller app.

Meeting admins will also be able to view more data. They can see how many people are in a room via the dashboard, and both set and police specific social distances measures. There will also be information about the temperature within each room. 

There are also collaboration-focused updates, such a shareable whiteboard that can also be put into the chat function and a new meeting toolbar.

Zoom has announced plans to bring voice commands and Alexa into Zoom Rooms, but there is no release date for those features as yet. 

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