Partnering for a More Inclusive Future at Work

How Microsoft and Salamander Designs Came Together in Redmond with a Clear Mission: to Build the Most Modern, Flexible Hybrid Solutions

We are all keen to the fact that the workplace has dramatically changed in recent years, and finding ways to bring people together better is paramount. But doing that continues to be a challenge for many businesses, from cost and time to how to create environments where all team members can engage faster and be on an even playing field regardless of where they are located. Enter Microsoft and Salamander Designs, two long-standing leaders in the commercial workspace. A natural fit, these two companies have collaborated for years and have been driven by design, useability and transformation for technology – and teams. Salamander is also a licensed, certified Microsoft Designed for Surface (DSF) Partner, so the two have a strong history.  

According to Sam Albert, Principal Product Manager for Microsoft in Redmond, WA, they have a unique space called “The Hive.” Here, the company takes what they hear from customers and envisions what’s next with their teams, leadership and visitors. The spaces are set up as real-world labs for considering, testing and designing solutions for the workplace. It’s also the location where they show breakthroughs for businesses that can then be optimized and deployed worldwide.

Recently, in three rooms of The Hive, Microsoft implemented Salamander Designs workplace furniture solutions, along with other partner technologies and OEM products. The team embraced the latest Salamander technology furniture including the award-winning curved Arc Table within these spaces. 

The Hive is Alive with Inclusivity

To understand Microsoft’s approach, it’s important to note the three rooms are each used for different purposes and include a variety of Salamander solutions. Room One gives Microsoft a first-hand look from the product testing of cameras, displays and other technologies to room infrastructures and designs and how they work best with MS Teams solutions. Here there’s a Salamander Motorized Lift Stand to accommodate needs beautifully, as the room is often undergoing updates to try out new technologies. Salamander’s Lifts are ideal for this environment, as they are easily moved up and down to accommodate people sitting or standing and can be moved about in seconds as needed thanks to Salamander’s mobile design.  

The second room at The Hive is a state-of-the-art Microsoft Signature Teams Room and executive briefing center where top customers come to see the very latest Teams Rooms and gain real-time insights. Also featuring a Salamander Motorized Lift Stand, this is a showcase of Microsoft Teams Rooms (MTR) where customers can experience MTR and learn how they can bring these solutions to their own facilities.

Room Three is beautiful showcase of a medium Microsoft Signature Teams Room thats located close to Microsoft’s marketing teams for frequent tours. Lots of customer engagement occurs here, so the latest Salamander furniture systems are used in this space. It’s a full room solution with the new Arc Table and a Salamander Credenza that has storage for components and ventilation. Microsoft refers to it as a Salamander-powered Signature Room that also has a large format Jupiter Screen and other leading enterprise technologies. 

Why Salamander

Sam from Microsoft Shared Chief Goals of These Rooms.

“We approached these spaces with the question of, ‘how can we design workspaces where people want to come in and experience the very best of hybrid life?’ We wanted to test and show how Microsoft Teams, with other selected technologies and furniture, can make a real difference to inclusivity and bring people together in new ways. And that’s exactly what we did with Salamander. They not only met these needs, but they also brought great efficiencies.

Each Salamander piece was chosen for a combination of its capabilities and functionality, to design and aesthetics. They provide seamless, natural human functionality, which is our intent with MTR, and they install easily by not requiring electricians, construction or additional trades and time. When finished, these rooms also look amazing aesthetically and not ‘utilitarian’ like rooms do with traditional furniture. Salamander brings these important things together.

As we look at businesses today, most are aspiring to create places where people don’t feel isolated when others may be located elsewhere. It’s vital they still feel included, connected and can be face-to-face naturally. And that goal is one that Microsoft and Salamander showcase at The Hive.”  

~ Sam Albert, Microsoft

A Total Transformation

Sam then described how Salamander changed their rooms at The Hive. “Pre- and during-pandemic, these rooms were traditional long, rectangular-oriented rooms with a big, heavy long table and one display at the end, and maybe a camera. This is often considered the bowling alley meeting room. The A/V was also aging. For example, the camera technology could capture one person speaking and didn’t include everyone in the room or at the other end of the camera. 

“People had to think about the technology rather than focus on the collaboration. They had to turn to look at the camera and wonder if they could be heard. All this created an uncomfortable situation. Thanks to Salamander furniture coupled with our MTR solutions, these rooms are completely transformed. We’ve flipped room orientations to interactive, flexible orientations. Now technologies are more easily added. Salamander helped convert traditional rooms into new, high-quality hybrid MS Signature Rooms.” 


Salamander was also highlighted as playing an important role in the upgrades. “It’s easy to add a new camera. But adding infrastructure such as a conference display or table typically adds major cost and work such as tearing out walls, bringing in electricians and scheduling. With Salamander, that was reduced or eliminated. From the time Microsoft received the tech and furniture, it was literally just days to get everything in place, working and the rooms were productive,” said Sam.  

These principles are on full display in Redmond, so customers can see and experience how they can more rapidly design and deploy these progressive solutions. 

What about Obstacles?

Every technology project has obstacles, and The Hive was no exception. Microsoft had an extremely tight deadline to complete these rooms, and Salamander met the challenge. Scott Srolis, SVP of Sales and Marketing for Salamander, was able to coordinate and get things to Sam quickly. For example, Sam and team wanted a new Arc Table. Salamander was amid the original design of the table. Through close communication, Microsoft actually received one of the first Arc Tables off the Salamander production floor, which they said was pretty special for them.    

“Salamander and Microsoft also worked to plan for current and future needs. Today, Microsoft has an all-in-one audio solution with a soundbar. In the future, we understood they may have floor-standing speakers and change audio components and configurations. Our furniture is made to allow for that and for additional gear storage in the Credenza whenever Microsoft is ready.”  

~ Scott Srolis, SVP of Sales and Marketing, Salamander

When asked about any pleasant surprises during the installation Sam shared, “With the medium Signature Room, our idea was to change the room from a traditional one to a room of today. With Salamander and Jupiter Systems combined we experienced an all-in-one room solution where we didn’t have to open walls or reinforce the display against the wall to get a quality meeting system. It was a nice surprise how quickly that happened. With Salamander furniture, you get the functionality required, save time and cost and get the aesthetics you want. We attribute the ease and beauty to Salamander’s approach that brings all these elements together – and does it in days.”  

Looking to a Bright Future

At The Hive, Microsoft is constantly looking at ways to make the workplace more inclusive. Their eyes are on how to meet employees both where and how they want to work in the world today, and how they can help ease challenges that we all face at work, while providing easier, more cost-effective deployments. Technology is important, but Microsoft and Salamander are thinking most about how to create places that foster engagement inside and outside of the room.   

“Today we’re looking at the Salamander Designs Cabinet made for Epson’s Ultra Short Throw Projector and how that might fit in, because it enables a full-blown projection solution for a room, but also reduces infrastructure cost and time, since a projector does not have to be cut into the ceiling,” stated Sam. 

“There’s an exciting story to show and tell here,” said Scott. “The new Arc Table brings our collective vision to life! The combination of Microsoft Teams specifically with our uniquely curved table makes the conference magic happen. Today people expect more people to not be in the room than in the room. This delivers the ultimate forum for natural conversations where everyone can see, speak, hear and interact. And our portfolio is ready to have complete compatibility as Microsoft brings new products to market.” 

In closing, Sam summed it up nicely. “With Salamander Designs’ thoughtful approach, we know customers will not compromise on quality, functionality or aesthetics. We’re enthusiastic to continually explore next gen solutions with Salamander so we can deliver the most inclusive, forward-looking meeting spaces. In fact, Microsoft is launching an exciting product soon, and as usual, we’re collaborating with Salamander Designs to be sure we’re aligned and ready for it – and our customers worldwide.”