There is a work shift in progress across organizations as more employees plan to return to their physical offices on a full-time basis. Similarly, many of these workers' colleagues intend to continue working remotely for the foreseeable future. Of course, right in the middle of these two groups are those employees who intend to mix it up and split their time between in-person and remote work. This is the hybrid work future IT departments need to accommodate.
According to Microsoft’s Jared Spataro, corporate vice president of Microsoft 365, this work shift is necessitating changes in collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams to accommodate the entire organization no matter where they are working on any given day.
“At Microsoft, we believe that hybrid work is the future of work,” Spataro said. “To empower their people to succeed in hybrid work, business leaders will need to reimagine their organizations with a new operating model for people, places, and processes.”
Spataro went on to add that upcoming features in Microsoft Teams and Teams Rooms will allow all personnel, whether in-person or remote, to be on equal footing when it comes to collaborating with their fellow employees in hybrid meeting scenarios.
Microsoft Teams and Teams Rooms Updates
In meeting rooms where large format displays are available for hybrid meetings, updates to video layouts will enable larger views of individual video streams from remote participants due to increased screen real estate while still providing clear views of any meeting agenda items, presentations, and active chat dialog.
Additional enhancements include:
- Live reactions
- Spotlight speaker view
- The ability to pin multiple video streams
- Chat bubbles when using classic video grid layout (coming this fall)
If an organization has multiple screens in their physical meeting rooms, Teams will support spanning video streams and content across those devices for increased visibility of meeting participants and content.
Microsoft’s Surface Hub is also getting an updated Teams experience that will provide:
- A modernized meeting stage layout for more visual options during meetings
- A Together Mode so participants can see all other meeting participants on the same screen
- PowerPoint Live, which includes slide translate, inking, and a virtual laser pointer
A hybrid Microsoft Whiteboard experience will roll out this summer to enable all meeting attendees to begin whiteboarding session with other meeting participants. According to Microsoft, this fall the same updated Microsoft Whiteboard experience will also be rolled out to Surface Hub devices.
Microsoft plans to make these features available to accommodate this hybrid work shift on Microsoft Teams mobile apps on Android and iOS soon. PowerPoint Live and Dynamic View are already available on the mobile platforms.
Workflow Enhancements for Collaboration
Even when people aren’t meeting on Teams, they’re still collaborating with colleagues remotely or in person. In recognition of the multiple ways in which people communicate, Microsoft has introduced what they call “fluid components” – interactive elements in Teams chat that connect to exist apps like OneNote and Outlook, and allow users to access whiteboard features and list and assign tasks.
Data shared in these elements of chat will remain in sync across all Teams and Office apps so that the latest collaboration work is available wherever employee’s access it in their workflow.
The ability to pin key chat messages and replying to a specific chat message also help with keeping team member awareness at a high level as they return to ongoing chats with their hybrid team.
Outlook RSVP and Working Hours
As more employees negotiate a workplace that is geographically diffuse, they may face the issue of trying to coordinate meetings and one-on-one conversations with colleagues who are working in different time zones.
In response, Microsoft is adding new options to meeting details in the Outlook client and these will share whether people are working on-site or remotely, and what their working hours are.
Ultimately the goal of these and all the enhancements announced by Microsoft today is to acknowledge this hybrid work shift that's in progress and accommodate all employees, no matter their location, so that they can be fully engaged and contributing members of their team.