Enhance Meeting Equity with Front Row for Teams
Our second installment of The Modern Workplace Series explores how we improve presence equity with the new Microsoft Front Row feature in Microsoft Teams room systems. Following best practices and implementing room configuration options, Microsoft Front Row for Teams settings create more equitable experiences for all participants. At Radiant Technology, we’re focused on creating collaboration spaces that enhance meeting equity and productivity. The Teams Front Row meeting layout setting enhances eye contact and provides a more immersive experience for both in-person and remote participants, leading to greater engagement, meeting equity and higher levels of productivity.
What is Front Row?
Gone are the days of the “Brady Bunch” square layout for hybrid meetings. Microsoft Front Row is a layout designed for Teams meetings that strategically combines the best of in-person and remote work together in a polished layout. This updated layout fixes video feeds of remote participants to the bottom of the display to achieve better eye contact. The room camera is now mounted below the display at standard eye level, which means displays are mounted higher, but greatly contributes to a lifelike atmosphere during meetings.
We asked Digital Experience Thought Leader, Doug Freutel, about the benefits of MS Teams Front Row.
How is Front Row Different?
On Screen Chat
One new feature is the inclusion of chat on the conference room display screen. Doug Freutel, Vice President of Radiant Technology, notes, “In any given meeting there are remote participants who join from mobile devices. These participants often leverage chat functionality to enhance collaboration within a meeting. Historically, people in conference rooms are not able to see these chats.”
The Front Row for Teams layout repositions chat into the visible layout so everyone can clearly see updates in real time during the meeting.
Freutel continues, “Transcribing, notes and other key information that was traditionally only available to participants from mobile devices as now accessible by in-room participants on the screen.”
The Front Row layout creates improved meeting equity for people in the conference room to see and participate more fully in conversations and use resources which were previously limited or unavailable.
Balance of Content and Participants
Another notable difference between the Front Row layout and traditional Gallery views is the better balance of content to participant ratio. In previous views content was prioritized especially in single screen MS Teams rooms. This means remote participants were minimized on the screen resulting in limited representation as real estate was drastically limited.
With the importance of body language and nonverbal cues in meetings, the Front Row layout offers improved balance of content to people ratios on the screen. Meeting leaders have the ability to switch from Front Row view to the Gallery layout depending on whether content or people need to be emphasized or optimized for viewing.
Body Language and Nonverbal Cues
Often lost in hybrid meetings are the nonverbal cues from remote participants—especially when they don’t share video. To keep engagement up and elevate nonverbal communication, participants can send emojis floating across the screen during the meeting. Displaying remote participants at the bottom of the screen also enhances the ability to read body language cues as team members are on equal viewing levels, allowing for more genuine interactions.
For remote participants, the presentation view has a new, engaging layout. The presenter’s head and shoulders appear next to content that is presented, much like a meteorologist appears next to a weather map on the news.
In traditional “gallery mode” meetings, remote participants are stacked on the side of the screen and content takes center stage. Microsoft Front Row creates better presence equity by increasing “people” ratios and decreasing “content” ratios.
Support for Screen Aspect Ratios
According to Freutel, one of the most exciting features of Front Row and the MS Teams rooms is support for the new large format 21:9 monitors. “We often see the struggle in spaces where a single screen is too small, but dual screens are too large,” stated Freutel. “As people adopt 21:9 as a desktop monitor standard, some LCD display manufacturers have introduced large format 81” and 105” 21:9 large format displays.”
Freutel continues, “dvLED projection manufacturers can produce even larger, and Microsoft is the first to include support for optimizing the MS Teams Rooms desktop to accommodate the new wider real estate. Not to mention the executive envy that this produces, having such a new emerging display garners really good attention and impact.”
- A better balance of people to content sizing
- Visible Chat on screen
- Transcription viewing
- Consistent sightlines for people viewing with camera placement
What do the layouts look like?
As nonverbal cues from remote participants can be missed, Front Row for Teams integrated emojis from participants are visible next to their photos, providing opportunities for nonverbal feedback throughout the meeting.
Presentations now offer a video feed of the remote presenter’s head and shoulders alongside or in front of the content being presented.
The ability to add an agenda and the chat bar to the meeting encourage effective use of time and increase visibility. These visual cues and calls to action prompt responses from both in-person and remote participants.
Considerations and Challenges
- Design for acceptable sightlines for optimal viewing should be considered because the new layouts reduce content real estate. Radiant helps clients determine the right number and size of displays to use in these environments as the old rules of thumb for screen size have changed.
- Display screen and camera positioning need to be considered for optimal viewing and remote participant sightlines because the camera is optimized at the bottom of the screen, versus at the side or the top. This can impact use of touch screens for whiteboarding because the remote view might be obstructed or have a less than ideal view. Microsoft created improved support for digital whiteboarding and the use of external analog whiteboard cameras for spaces.
How does Radiant do it better?
We focus on your end users and your outcomes. Radiant Technology designs and integrates modern collaboration spaces based on best practices with functionality that meets your unique needs to optimize your meeting experiences.
When paired with automated camera tracking technology, Microsoft Front Row Teams rooms give your employees the best meeting and presentation experience, no matter the location, to drive effective, productive communication.