- Microsoft Teams has announced new themes like coffee shop, conference rooms and auditorium for Together Mode feature.
- It has also announced features focussing on mental health like virtual commutes and meditation breaks for 2021.
- Some features like productivity insights and breakout rooms will be available in October whereas the other is slated for 2021.
Microsoft Teams saw a surge in users in the backdrop of the pandemic. As of April, Teams had 7.5 million daily active users, as per Venture Beat. While some people have resumed offices, most office-goers are confined within their homes. Microsoft Teams has brought in new features for such users, focussing on their mental health. Teams has also announced new features for better meeting experiences. The following are the tools Microsoft has announced for users.
Virtual commutes: Offices in real life require to and fro commute time and according to research done by Microsoft, commute time helps employees with productivity as they get time to reflect. The virtual commute feature will be brought about in 2021. The feature will schedule a virtual commute at the start and end of users' day.
"What we're finding is that that commute experience — it's good for it not to be too long, but it did play a role in helping us clear our heads," Microsoft 365 corporate vice president Jared Spataro said in a press briefing.
Meditation breaks: Microsoft has also partnered with Headspace to let employees schedule mindful meditation sessions. "You can either schedule a meditation as part of your virtual commute or as part of a mindfulness break throughout the day," Spataro noted. Microsoft found that starting with meditation before a long workday reduces stress and the rate of burnout.
Starting October, Microsoft is also going to bring productivity insights for teams that will give an idea of after-hours collaboration, focus time, meeting effectiveness, and cross-company connections. Throughout the workplace analytics, users will get personalised recommended actions for changing habits to improve productivity and well-being.
Themes for Together Mode: Microsoft had earlier announced Together Mode that uses AI technology to place cutouts of participants in a shared background. Now, it has announced various themes for together mode like coffee shops, auditoriums, and conference rooms. Microsoft will also include machine learning in Together Mode to automatically scale and center meeting participants in their virtual seats, regardless of how close or far they are from their camera.
Custom Layouts for Dynamic view: Dynamic view gives users more control over what they share in meetings. Microsoft has announced custom layouts for dynamic view. Users will be able to present by being transposed on to the foreground of the powerpoint presentations. This feature, too, uses AI segmentation technology with background blur and Together Mode.
Breakout rooms, a feature seen in Zoom and Google Meet will now arrive on Microsoft Teams. The feature consisting mainly of smaller, informal groups is mainly used for brainstorming sessions or group discussions, etc. It is slated to arrive on Teams in October.
Users will be able to recap meetings that include the meeting recording, transcript, chat, and files shared in the meeting's Chat and Details tabs. The calling on teams is also slated to get more streamlined at the beginning of next year.