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Since its introduction, Microsoft has been releasing a steady stream of Microsoft 365 updates. In recent years, many of those updates are focused on supporting remote work in response to the significant increase in hybrid and remote workforce strategies companies have adopted since the pandemic.
One thing that has changed is the introduction of subscriptions for Office 365. But, there are many other updates that you can take advantage of.
Microsoft Teams is the premier Microsoft application intended to help you reimagine the office, making it easy for remote workers and those who work in the office to collaborate. And, with over 270,000 Microsoft Teams users,1 it seems obvious that many companies are finding the application a key part of their hybrid workforce plans.
With so many updates, it’s possible to continue using the features you’re familiar with rather than taking advantage of improvement. Described below are a list of the updates that you should be sure to explore.
One issue in many hybrid workforce environments is determining when an employee will be in the office. Coordinating the scheduling of meetings and determining whether attendees will come to the meeting in person or virtually is an ongoing challenge.
Microsoft is updating Outlook and its RSVP features. After the update in the second quarter of 2022, employees will be able to RSVP to any meeting from Outlook – and let people know if they’ll join in person or virtually.
Microsoft is updating the layout of the Team Rooms to help in-office and remote workers feel more connected and to encourage collaboration. The new Front Row layout will display the video gallery at the bottom of the screen, which will improve the face-to-face feeling for the participants.
One of the goals of Microsoft 365 updates is to make it easy to share meetings across time zones and have them available to those who couldn’t attend. Late last year, one of the Microsoft services updates was the cameo feature which will be generally available in the second quarter of 2022.
With the cameo feature, you can incorporate the feed from your Teams camera into a presentation in PowerPoint. You’ll be able to decide where you want the meeting to appear in the slides, and you’ll get recommendations through the Designer in PowerPoint to make sure you’ve created an optimal viewing experience.
In the second quarter of 2022, the cameo feature and the recording studio will be integrated. You’ll be able to insert a Teams video and then record yourself narrating other slides in the deck. Your audience will see the presentation with PowerPoint Live in Teams whether you are at the meeting or not.
Using a whiteboard during meetings is a common way to brainstorm and solve problems. The whiteboard function in Teams has been evolving rapidly. You’ll notice that the whiteboard has a fresh look and runs on the internet, Teams, Android, Windows, and iOS. In the second quarter of 2022, the whiteboard feature will have even more features that make hybrid collaboration a breeze.
Collaboration cursors will give each attendee a different color to use along with a name bubble to keep track of who suggested changes, and over 50 new templates will be available. Not everyone feels comfortable participating in a group brainstorm, so the whiteboard will encourage more participation by providing reactions. Reactions are a group of eight symbols people can use to express an opinion quickly. They include things like a star, a heart, a question mark, and a lemon (for those ideas that aren’t very popular).
Another feature included in the 2022 Q2 release includes the ability to use language interpretation. People who are participating in the meeting can convert what the speaker says into another language. This near-real-time interpretation can ensure your attendees don’t miss items due to a language barrier.
You simply need to assign one of the people on the participant list as the interpreter and select up to 16 source and target languages. Attendees will hear the interpretation with the speaker’s words played in the background at a lower volume.
If you are using Microsoft Teams Phone for voice communications, you’ll see changes generally available in the second half of 2022. Operator Connect Mobile will enhance the existing Operator Connect to offer enterprise-grade connections, network quality, resiliency, and support for mobile users.2
What do these updates mean to your company? The hybrid workforce continues to evolve, and your technology needs to keep up with the changing requirements in order to be competitive in today’s new work environment. We’re pleased to see that Microsoft services are being updated to let you do just that.
Part of the hybrid evolution includes a continued emphasis on making the members of the hybrid workforce feel as if everyone is in the office. Will that seamless “all together” feeling ever be achieved, or will we need to grow accustomed to how collaboration looks today as part of the new normal? Time will tell.
But, as you move through your own evolution, keep in mind that you can get expert guidance and ongoing Microsoft support from Access One. Contact us today.