Rollout of the October 2020 Microsoft Teams update has begun and changes will be noticed from now until early 2021. With home working now being commonplace and no signs of that changing, this latest update is geared up to improve remote working practices.
The last Microsoft Teams update back in the early Spring when our nation of home-workers was relatively new, was aimed heavily at maintaining communication, with big improvements made to the video calling functionality. This update, however, is aimed much more at long-term home working arrangements, boosting productivity and caring for staff wellbeing.
So, what will the new Microsoft Teams update give us?
#1 Altogether now
The last Microsoft Teams update increased the number of video call participants visible on the screen at one time from 4 to 9. Now, hot on the tail of Zoom, with Teams you can see up to 49 participants at once on an impressive 7×7 grid! Providing your screen has the capability of course.
Another fun addition to the video call function is ‘Together Mode’. When the meeting organiser starts a meeting in this mode, all participants are taken from their own backgrounds and placed on a shared background of audience-style seating so you can truly feel like you’re all in the room together. A little touch like this is a great way to make everyone feel a little more at ease.
#2 Time to prepare
This is a great feature when you’re about to take part in a meeting that requires the utmost professionalism. Instead of fighting with your audio and video configurations as you join a call while all eyes are on you, the ‘pre-join’ function allows you to do this before you commit to entering the meeting. A little like straightening your tie before you open the boardroom door.
#3 Checking in
Perhaps one of the hardest parts of working from home long term is being disconnected from people. You might usually notice a colleague’s mood by their body language or their stress levels by the pace they walk down the corridor, but in the current climate, we miss this insight.
A new app to Teams, called Reflect, has been introduced to help bridge the gap of the staff room where you might ask a co-worker ‘how are you doing?’ whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. Reflect enables leaders to check on their teams by posing questions about project progress, organisational changes, etc. The recipient can reply simply with a survey-styled 1-to-10 ranking giving the sender a good overview on how their entire team are feeling.
Saying ‘goodbye’ to public transport delays and traffic jams was probably the silver-lining for many when the government recommended longer-term home working. But without the journey to and from work, you can miss out on a lot of ‘quiet time’.
Studies show that the thinking and reflection done during commuting can significantly improve productivity. That’s why Microsoft has introduced a Virtual Commute feature. Schedule virtual commute time in your diary and replace the time you would have been commuting with a walk or some mindful time.
Brought to you by the wellbeing brand Headspace, you can now gain access to science-supported meditations and mindfulness exercises via Teams. This can be a great way to mark the end of the working day before returning to family life or even to help improve focus before a meeting.
#6 Gain insight
With the Microsoft Teams update, My Analytics has been improved upon too. Instead of just gathering productivity data for you to review, your report will now come with tailored recommendations on how you could improve your working day in terms of productivity and attention to your wellbeing.
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