Global lockdowns and working from home have changed the way the world interacts in the workplace. And while there are many things that you can still do without needing to have colleagues around, there are some workplace functions that are difficult to replace. Most importantly, that sense of working as a group or team. It’s far too easy to get lost in your own work and forget that you often have hundreds of co-workers and a bigger organisation that you are a part of.
Microsoft is wanting to try and bring back some of the “team” feel with new updates coming to their Teams software. First, is a new “Together Mode” which creates a virtual live avatar of yourself that is supposed to help you better engage with in meetings. That space could be a meeting room-like environment, a coffee shop, or other places you would normally have face-to-face meetings. It’s a little gimmicky, but the idea is to have it feel like you and your teams are still sitting in a boardroom, office or auditorium. Something which may be a nice visual reminder for people about their bigger teams and for those who prefer office environments, to get a daily dose of positive mental health.
Alongside Together Mode, Microsoft is also launching a new dynamic view that will allow people to dynamically share content side by side with a participant. Essentially allowing you to show more than just the presentation or video you want others to see, but also place the focus on the presenter or another person of importance, like sign language interpreters
Microsoft is also adding in video filters and live reactions to Microsoft Teams. You can use the filters to adjust lighting levels or soften the focus of the camera to improve your webcam in Teams. Meanwhile, live reactions will allow participants to react with an emoji or some other signal that can reflect their thought on a matter. Both are features which Zoom has been doing for a while now, so it’s great to see Microsoft finally bring them in and make Teams better for those meetings where feedback or voting is important.
However, if there is one change that Microsoft is making that will reflect the true scale of a business, it’s that along with these changes the company is growing the maximum number of participants in a session from 1000 to 20000. Something which I guess will only matter to a few very large companies but is welcome for them nonetheless. Though I’d hate to imagine the load on the different servers trying to handle that number of participants without a drop on quality.
And finally, taking a lead out of Google Meet’s playbook, the company is also partnering with other hardware companies like Lenovo and Yealink to create special new Microsoft Teams displays. These dedicated Teams devices will include a touchscreen and hands-free experience through Cortana and operate much the same way Google envisaged for their model, allowing businesses to set up boardrooms to work with Teams more effectively.
With all the focus on making working from home more effective for many, it has been great to see all the innovation coming from the likes of Zoom, Slack, Google and Microsoft in this regard and it’s clear that the future of work is definitely developing on front of our eyes.
Last Updated: July 10, 2020