Microsoft uses the moniker Modern Work to encompass all the products and services that improve workers’ ability to fully collaborate across multiple business processes. Microsoft Teams continues to be the umbrella platform for all the new tools and services to bring them into one pane of glass for quick and easy access.
“To thrive in this new hybrid world, people and organizations need solutions that are fluid, dynamic, and cloud-powered,” explained Jared Spataro, corporate vice President for Microsoft 365, at Ignite 2021. “2020 is the year work and learning moved to the cloud, and it’s clear that flexible work is here to stay. Physical spaces will always be important, but we just can’t rely on them or on being together in person the way that we used to.”
He’s got the numbers to back this up: Microsoft’s Work Trend Index shows that 80% of managers expect a more flexible work-from-home policy after the pandemic and over 70% of employees report they plan to do just that. These stats support the company’s approach to hybrid work and all the new features unveiled this week.
Let’s take a look at the key new Microsoft Teams features announced.
Interactive Webinars: This feature is available for both internal and external hosted meetings (or even those in which attendees are both internal and external to the company). The event has a capacity for 1000 attendees, and the event organizers will be able to get attendance data and post-meeting reports.
If the event ticks up over 1,000 attendees, Microsoft Teams will scale up to a view-only broadcast experience for up to 10,000 people.
Availability: Generally available.
Microsoft Teams Connect: To make it easier to collaborate with internal or external partners and still protect internal business processes, Teams Connect allows individual channels – not entire Teams workspaces – to be shared with anyone. Once invited, they gain full access to a specific Teams channel and can fully participate in activities including chat, calls, file sharing, apps and co-authoring documents. However, these users are siloed away from the rest of the workspace.
Availability: Currently in private preview with broad roll out later this calendar year.
Microsoft PowerPoint Live in Teams: Currently presenters must share their desktop to show a PowerPoint deck of slides during a Teams call or meeting which is a very static view. PowerPoint Live in Teams changes that by helping the presenter see not only their slide deck but also presentation notes, meeting chat and participants in one view. Attendees can customize their own view by privately moving through the presentation content at their own pace or using a screen reader to make that content more accessible on their end.
Availability: Generally available.
Microsoft Teams Presenter Mode: This new Microsoft Teams feature enables a presenter in a Teams meeting to customize how their video and content are presented to viewers. The feature is meant to solve a problem Spataro framed as “we’re missing the cues that we used to get from people being in the room.” To fill in the digital disconnect, Teams now includes three new modes:
- Standout Mode, which shows the speaker video feed in front of any shared content. Spataro says this mode helps create a stronger connection with the audience as they can see the content while also reading the presenter’s body language and responding to their energy.
- Reporter Mode, which places the speaker content above their shoulder much like a news broadcast.
- Side-by-Side Mode, which places the speakers video feed and the content next to each other on the screen.
Availability: Coming soon.
Microsoft Teams Dynamic View: Presenter Mode is just one of the new Microsoft Teams features to focus on improving natural social cues in an increasingly hybrid workforce. An option to move the gallery view to the top of a Teams meeting window has been added to encourage a more natural angle for eye contact among meeting attendees.
Availability: Rolling out soon.
Microsoft Teams Room Gallery View: To accommodate a hybrid workforce with some employees in the office and others working remotely, Large Gallery views and custom screen layouts are being added to the screens in Microsoft Teams Rooms. This Microsoft Teams update also supports single or dual screen meeting rooms by showing these gallery views and meeting content at the same time on either of those screen configurations. “We want everyone to feel like they’re in the center of the action,” Spataro said.
Availability: No information provided at Microsoft Ignite 2021.
Microsoft Teams End-to-End Encryption: The last of the key new Microsoft Teams features IT pros should be aware of is the addition of end-to-end encryption. To assist customers with security and compliance requirements, Teams will soon support end-to-end encryption during one-on-one Microsoft Teams calls which help secure sensitive business-related conversations.
Availability: Commercial customers can access this in preview sometime in the first half of this calendar year.