In this article, we will discuss best practices for IT and AV professionals to deploy a new Zoom Room workplace environment.
This article covers:
- Site readiness
- System design
- Zoom Rooms Appliances vs Zoom Rooms Systems
- Custom spaces
- Refresh planning
First, contact your Zoom Account Executive about obtaining a Zoom Rooms trial license and evaluate the product. If you are exploring Zoom as a potential platform for your organization and have not, please contact us to get started with a Zoom representative that can get you going with Zoom!
Visit the getting started guide to get a better understanding of Zoom Rooms if you have not done so already.
Now that you have decided to deploy Zoom Rooms, let's see how we can customize your space to define the best experience for your organization from a software and hardware capability perspective. Let's look at some appropriate questions to ask yourself that will greatly improve your deployment with some planning.
- What experience am I hoping to achieve?
- Who will own the administration of my Zoom Rooms?
- Will I use Zoom Rooms Appliances with associated peripherals or Zoom Rooms Systems with USB peripherals in your environment?
- Will I use Zoom Global Services internal IT/facility staff, or an AV integrator to implement the systems?
- Will I leverage existing equipment, purchase new equipment, or a combination of both?
- Will I have any h.323/sip devices in my environment?
- Do I need to transition my spaces from legacy systems?
- Will I buy the equipment or leverage Zoom's hardware as a service program?
- What is the budget for my AV environment?
- Do I have the necessary network bandwidth & firewall settings for a Zoom environment?
- Does Zoom provide the security that is needed by my organization?
- What spaces can I enable outside of huddle spaces and conference rooms?
- Beyond the core Zoom Rooms, can I add additional value to my spaces?
These are some of the questions you should ask yourself, as they are very important to all Zoom Rooms deployments. There are many professionals at Zoom and within Zoom's partner ecosystem that can help you arrive at a decision across various questions that you may have. Most of these questions do not have a generic preferred answer as they will be specific to your organization's needs and capabilities.
Ideally, installers have thought of all aspects of their installation and worked with you as the customer to make sure that everything is well aligned for a perfect installation. Unfortunately, there are lots of unknown pieces to the installation that may impact the timeline of a pristine system delivery. Consider the following aspects as the timeline approaches your installation date:
- Is my network configured and ready for this installation?
- Did I test the functionality of a live Zoom Rooms environment?
- Do I have power and network installed to accommodate my AV systems?
- Are my ceilings and walls prepared for installation, such as backing for my displays or cable paths between devices as needed for my installation?
- Are there any obvious acoustical or lighting challenges in my space?
- Is my furniture going to be installed before my AV installers arrive?
- Will power and data be up and running for my installation?
Without the proper accommodations, installers may be unable to complete your installation or provide a consistent experience in your environment. All parties in the deployment process rely on the key stakeholders to define a path to success.
The AV system design is going to dictate many things, from in-room and remote audio to video experience quality and supportability.
The best approach to system design is standardization. By standardizing your Zoom Rooms, the experience will always be consistent to your users. Zoom is already doing a great job of providing consistency in seamless user experiences across all of your communications and workplace utilities with high-end video, audio, and control at the software level across all devices on the platform.
The first step will be to categorize your spaces. What size of spaces are their own category? Do you want to consider variations to your base design to meet specific or unique user needs? Typically, we would recommend a core standards list of no more than 10 room types, not including minor variations.
Once you have your room types down with defined wall and ceiling dimensional ranges, the following key aspects should be considered for each type of space:
- Technology standards
- Square footage or room dimensions
- Seating capacity
- Furniture standardization
- Acoustic treatment standards
- Lighting standards
A typical division of room types may include the following:
|Square Feet||Seating Capacity||System designs|
Digital Signage / Screen Share Only Room
Phone / Focus / Office
|<60 ft2||<3||Focus Room|
Large Conference / Boardroom
All Hands Space
Variations of these designs may include:
- Number or size of displays
- Number or types of cameras
- Number or types of microphones
- Number or types of speakers
- Touch vs non-touch variation
- Companion whiteboard add-on
- Scheduling display add-on
Zoom Rooms Appliances vs Zoom Rooms Systems
As we stated, consistency is extremely important in your environment. In the future, ideally all systems will be fully manageable by Zoom with every integrated system easily able to update and allow the latest, greatest features. That said, appliances typically will be proprietary systems with only peripherals that work for that line of products. A great example of this is Poly with the Studio X series or G7500 system, which are expandable systems with Poly cameras and microphones, as well as support for certain 3rd party devices. For a larger ecosystem of USB-based devices that work with standard operating systems such as Windows 10 and MacOS, consider running the Zoom Rooms software on one of these platforms to allow for a wider set of integratable components if that is needed.
Here is a quick comparison table:
|Zoom Rooms Appliances||Zoom Rooms Systems|
ZDM for Appliances - No enrollment required
Purpose-built, engineered designs
Typically certified hardware
Added value with air quality sensors & additional functionality
Quick and easy to install
Open standard (USB/UVC/HID) support
Sometimes certified hardware
Peripheral-based added functionality, dependent on device and windows/mac interactions
May require some setup and settings adjustments
When choosing a system deployment, make sure you have a plan for supportability. Typically this can be the installer with paid managed services or internal IT staff with AV knowledge. Zoom also offers installation services and managed services. It is recommended for your installer to be involved with the management of your AV systems as they will be most familiar with all aspects of the environment.
Here are some key concepts to consider when building a support system for your environment:
- Zoom Portal - rooms settings management
- Zoom Portal - dashboard oversight
- Live meetings support (on-demand or ticketed)
- Network management and optimization
- AV systems readiness and break/fix
- MAC (move / add / change) management
- Event space operators & live assistance
It is important to think about the needs of your organization and different users that may not fit the intended use case. With a bit of customization, Zoom Meetings/Webinar and Zoom Rooms are valuable tools that will allow minor and major customization to your experience that fits the needs of your users.
From production studios and dynamic office spaces to training rooms and auditoriums, Zoom can provide the experience that your users are looking for with a bit of customization to the design, while maintaining a clean, easy to use experience.
Zoom Rooms can easily be deployed into large environments for an easy ad hoc experience that is consistent with the rest of the conference rooms in your environment. Alternatively, Zoom Rooms can be integrated into a highly complex, technician-run environment with advanced camera control with routing and switching of audio visual signals in the space. This can add a level of production that may be desired, but will require a very custom design that needs to be supported and operated effectively on a day to day basis.
Key concepts when designing larger spaces:
- Design to the experiences in the space: Think about all of the experiences that are happening in the space and optimize the design for all of those experiences. Each need to have a high quality audio and video experience. Typically those experiences include:
- Audience (physical participants)
- Zoom attendees (virtual participants)
- Align cameras with video participant displays: This may include confidence monitors with a presenter camera to give the presenter an eye contact experience with the Zoom video attendees or an audience camera above the main displays. This experience allows audio coming into the space, aligned with moving lips to incur and orientation toward that speaker, and the feeling on the far end that those people in the space are looking and listening to you within that space.
- The opposing audio capture dilemma: In presentation spaces, a designer may be inclined to include presenter microphones as well as room capture microphones to allow both types of audio into the meeting through the Zoom Room. These audio types work very well in controlled environments like small training rooms or board rooms. Larger spaces that are also used for social activity or dining may not need open microphones and it can actually degrade the audio experience of a presenter if that presenter audio is being heard alongside a noisy room. It is a good idea to think about the use case and experience of that space. Typically wireless presenter mics are all that are needed in large presentation spaces to allow a very controlled environment with little degradation.
- Customization: Room controls will allow IP-based commands to be sent from the Zoom Rooms to certain devices such as displays for on/off control, microphones for mute color sync, lighting and shades, or temperature systems. Room controls can use Zoom events such as mic mute/unmute, video start/stop, operation time start/stop and meeting start/end. With these triggers, a native experience can be achieved to allow an optimal experience within a space.
As we move to a world where presence is seamless and egalitarian within a digital atmosphere, in-person audiences may not be the best way to be heard by or interact with a mass audience. A better way might be to optimize the production effort of a specific space to create a high quality experience for the digital audience. With this effort, the people on the far end will be much more receptive to the experience as they are on the platform that is utilized as the primary delivery method of the content, rather than a secondary experience as onlookers to a physical space, though a large event space may still be desired. Adding this production level as described above will be beneficial to your users' experience.
As you plan your environments, remember that technology is always changing and having a solid refresh plan in place will be essential to keep your users working in as modern of a space as is possible at that current time. Typically a rolling refresh is the best approach where no space is left untouched after a 3-7 year period of time. Once rooms start to reach a set age, it will make sense to roll them into existing standards, or to approach new technology to develop a forward-looking plan for implementation of new technologies as they become available on the market.
Unsupported offices or remote locations
When deploying systems into smaller offices in remote locations or countries that might not have technical staff on site, it is best to provide your users with the simplest systems possible. With a stable internet connection, anybody can set up a simple appliance such as a Neat Bar system, a Poly Studio X series system, or a Logitech Rally Bar system. Ideally, users onsite can unbox, power up, plug in, and be ready to use this system with little hassle or oversight needed.
When deciding standard designs in your environment, consider the fact that all products may not be available at all of your office locations. Consider the most challenging location to bring product into and design around that limitation, meeting a standard that works for all offices in your organization. If you are not happy with what is available in this location, consider a variation to your core designs that will provide as close to a consistent experience as is possible.
Historical buildings / unmodifiable spaces
For spaces that cannot be modified and need to fully stand alone, consider furniture choices of all in one systems or distributed freestanding systems that maintain a solid furniture experience. Freestanding systems may include a cart or even a table with mounted displays.
In closing, we hope that you can take a few things away from this documentation. Always remember that planning ahead will save you, your team and your users valuable time in the future. Think about the live environment and how it will be supported for the years ahead.