With many of us now comfortably settled and happy to work from home (or another suitable location) at least some of the time, having the right hardware to ensure you are productive is vital.
In the initial period of lockdown, which mandated working from home for many of us, there was an almighty scramble to get the kit required, from office chairs and standing desks to basics like mice and keyboards.
But with video conferencing now a key part of many jobs, having the right audio and video equipment is essential as well. It’s no longer enough to use your laptop’s built-in speakers and microphone anymore – proper kit is needed.
Bang & Olufsen (B&O) has been a household name in the luxury audio space for nearly a century, and as the remote working trend grew over the pandemic, it saw an opportunity to offer its high-end products to those business users hunting for a premium experience.
Its Beocom Portal device offers a step up from basic headsets, with features such as crystal-clear audio and top-of-the-range noise cancellation, alongside a typical high-quality design and 47-hour battery life that make it stand out from the crowd.
However, as John Howard, Bang & Olufsen’s Global Head of Enterprise & B2B tells us, the company never really wanted to be in the corporate world. The start of lockdown saw B&O customers using their existing consumer devices for their jobs, but found that often the products would not work seamlessly with popular apps such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
“They were never designed specifically to work with an enterprise application – of course, you could take a phone call on it, and it would work beautifully – but it wasn’t designed for it,” Howard notes.
The company recently announced that Beocom Portal is fully Microsoft Teams certified, following an earlier success with Zoom, meaning users can enjoy a seamless, high-quality experience expected of a company like B&O.
“It’s taken a lot of time to get it to where our requirements, and Microsoft’s requirements, are able to be launched,” Howard notes. “(Microsoft) have a very high bar of what they expect a product to do… we’ve spent a huge amount of time and effort to produce a product that hopefully excels at work and home.”
In this way, the Beocom Portal is somewhat of an outlier in the technology space, Howard says. Unlike many other top technology products – which start off as an enterprise device before gaining wider popularity and eventually being redesigned for a consumer audience – the Beocom Portal has been designed the other way around; it’s what Howard calls an “enterprise-out” genesis.
“We want the product to work in a luxury way… we wanted to design what we define as the first true hybrid product.”
This makes it the perfect addition to what Howard likes to call “location independent working” as opposed to simply remote or hybrid set-ups: “you work where you need to work,” he says, because although the home has become the hub of where many people have been working, it’s often not an entirely closed space, as you may have children or pets running around, or other devices making noise in the background.
It also makes it ideal for the new wave of workers who are prepared to accept (or decline) a job due to their employer’s hybrid working practices, and also the hardware they offer.
“IT departments are embracing the consumerization of IT,” Howard notes, highlighting how some employers even offer an allowance to employees for their hardware. However, with traditional Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies often meaning workers use their own and often unsuitable products for work purposes, there is a window for products such as the Beocom Portal, which offers not just a great enterprise experience, but one outside of work too.
This flexibility is a key part of what B&O offers, Howard notes. “We’re moving away from the old world of enterprise which was bespoke software, you can only use it with one type of operating system… whatever you want to use, we connect,” he says.
B&O also offers a three-year warranty on all its products, meaning users can be confident that their devices will last – an aspect which is also a welcome sustainability boost in today’s eco-conscious world.
Howard admits that the higher pricing of the Beocom Portal may mean it isn’t a device for every worker, but for those who do get to experience it, it could be a true game-changer.