Tech Talk Live Blog

Visual Status Indicators for Microsoft Lync

Dave Light

Sometime after implementing Microsoft Lync 2010 in our organization a few years ago, I jokingly mentioned an idea about having some kind of a flashing light on a cubicle or outside an office to let others know when a staff member is on a call.  One of the biggest frustrations I hear from staff members around the office is they are being interrupted by other employees who walk up to their desks while they are on a call.  A lot of staff have small wireless or Bluetooth headsets that are barely noticeable when in use.

Fast forward to May 2015, I was walking around the Microsoft Ignite conference Expo Hall and came across a small booth for the company Embrava.  Sitting on their podium was the exact product I imagined!

Embrava’s Blynclight Standard or Plus model is a small cube with an array of LED lights inside that change when your Lync status changes and connects via USB.  The Plus model adds a small speaker and the ability to customize ring tones and volume.

(Embrava Blynclight displaying the color green for ‘available’)

The little cube became an immediate hit in our Technology department and several more were ordered for our staff.  They are very bright and easily viewable from a distance when placed on top of a cubicle.  Our help desk staff noticed an immediate impact, as everyone that stopped by wanted to know everything about them.

As we looked into purchasing more of these for the rest of the organization, we found a similar USB product named the Busylight UC​ from the company Kuando.  We were able to get several devices on trial to deploy in a small pilot.  The Busylight UC offers a similar status light and ringtone features, but offers more flexibility when customizing statuses and colors.  The software also includes a message waiting notification feature, where the device will flash every 4 seconds to indicate a missed call.  Some unique features like Lync call handling tools are also included.  These allow you to suppress second incoming calls and assign hotkeys for call answering and dial-out options.  The Busylight UC also comes with circular magnets that when attached to the bottom of the device allows you to mount it to any magnetic surface or corresponding circular magnet.  This makes it extremely easy to mount the device outside of an office door.

(Kuando Busylight displaying the color purple for ‘Do Not Disturb’)

Our initial pilot went well with around 86% of staff surveyed responding that they found the Busylight UC beneficial and would recommend the purchase of the Busylight devices for our organization.

Here are some of the positive comments we received in the survey:

“It is a great visual indicator of my current status so that supervisors are aware, and I am able to be more productive with le​ss interruptions.”

“It is extremely helpful to see when others are on the phone, busy, or ‘undisturbable’! I also really like that the Busylight has a ring tone, so if I am not wearing my headset and looking at something on my desk (and not the computer screen), I can still hear when a call is coming in. (I know we can change settings on Lync so that calls ring through the computer, but it is much easier with the Busylight, and I can turn off that feature when I need to very easily as well.)”

We did find that some people continued to interrupt staff while they were on the phone, not knowing what the different colored lights meant.  To resolve this, a single sheet of paper was posted on the cubicle below explaining the different color statuses and what they meant.  This was especially useful for external customers who are not familiar with Lync or do not use it every day.

I would definitely recommend either device based on what your needs are.  Both offer similar features, plus some unique aspects to each.  I would definitely recommend these during an initial deployment of Lync as I think it would drastically increase user adoption and help provide better customer service during the transition.

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