The use of Microsoft Teams spiked as the coronavirus lockdown made it necessary for people to find alternatives to a work atmosphere.
Teams also has something lighthearted in store for its users. (Image: Screenscrab/ Microsoft video)
Microsoft Teams: As the popularity and usage of Microsoft’s video conferencing solution Teams is on the rise, the tech giant is bringing more and more features to the table. The use of the solution spiked as the coronavirus lockdown made it necessary for people to find alternatives to a work atmosphere. That’s where video conferencing services like Teams, Zoom and Google Meet stepped in. However, while initially this new working environment was exciting due to not having to commute to work and getting to work out of the comfort of one’s own home, soon people started to realise that gradually the distinction between work and personal life became blurry and work never seemed to end.
Microsoft, as always, stepped up to the challenge and has now found a solution to this.
While commuting is usually a stressful chore, in all of its traffic-jammed and overcrowded glory, it also gives a person some alone time to wind down before reaching home and having to get started on the household work. Now, Teams has included a feature using which a user can schedule a “virtual commute”. While the virtual commute does not entail any virtual car rides or train travels, the feature would remind users that the work day is about to end, and also suggest tasks that they can undertake to wind down and clear their heads before they get started on household work.
As an example, Teams would show the users a to-do list, and the users would be able to mark tasks as completed or even transfer them to the to-do list for the following day, while also asking users to rate how their day went and also suggesting guided meditation. For this, Microsoft has paired up with the Headspace app.
Apart from this, Microsoft would also be enabling its workplace analytics software to identify employees who are vulnerable to a burnout, by looking at factors like after-hours collaboration. It would then alert employers about such a risk, so that the employers can ensure that their employees remain healthy and fit.
But this is not it. While these developments were focusing on a serious aspect of working at home and its consequences, Teams also has something lighthearted in store for its users.
Microsoft has decided to expand its Together Mode on Teams. While Together Mode has been active for months, the new features would allow co-workers to pretend that the meeting is being held in coffee shops, or they can even indulge in a little grapevine banter in smaller meetings in breakout rooms. New scenes would also include conference rooms and auditoriums, and for this, the feature would use machine learning to fit the setting to scale automatically, and also set people to the centre of their screen irrespective of their actual position in the webcam.
Moreover, Teams custom layouts would also undergo improvement soon, changing the way content is added to the meetings by the presenters. The feature would allow the presenter’s video feed to lay over a slide deck so that both can be viewed simultaneously by other participants.