A woman working at a desk with a large monitor displaying four people on a virtual call, showing hybrid working.
Image: © master1305/Stock.adobe.com

3 ways Microsoft’s new features aim to help hybrid teams

10 Sep 2021

After releasing its insights into hybrid work, Microsoft is rolling out new features in Teams and Outlook to aid the new world of working.

Remote working and hybrid working have been at the top of the workplace conversation pretty much since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now that offices around the world are slowly starting to reopen, albeit with some setbacks, the conversation has become even more focused around how exactly workplaces will operate in this new world.

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Yesterday (10 September), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke to LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky about the biggest trends in the workplace right now, based on extensive data from both companies.

Nadella said the adaptability and availability of technology has helped many workplaces overcome the constraints of the pandemic and will become even more important in the hybrid world. “In order to be able to exercise flexibility, you need the malleability of the digital tools.”

Earlier this year, Microsoft brought out three new features on its Teams platform to make it easier for those working remotely.

Now, the company is rolling out even more features on both its Teams and Outlook platforms to help companies that are venturing into the blended approach of hybrid working.

New tools for hybrid meetings

While plenty of features have been rolled out over the past year to help everyone communicate remotely, a blended way of working will mean that there may be several people in the office while others work from home or other locations. This could make it difficult to communicate on video calls.

To combat this, Microsoft has partnered with Jabra, Neat, Poly and Yealink, which specialise in voice and video software or hardware technology, to create intelligent camera views within Teams Rooms.

A screenshot of a Microsoft Teams view with intelligent cameras showing multiple people.

Image: Microsoft

This will enable in-room intelligent cameras to use AI to automatically track who is speaking. The new feature will also allow multiple video streams to give those in a group conference room setting their own video pane.

According to the company’s blogpost, these features will be available to original equipment manufacturers in the coming months and rolled out as updates over the course of the next year.

Keeping people informed

We are moving away from a time when remote working is a given, with more companies making remote-first, flexible working and hybrid plans.

Microsoft Outlook is aiming to make it easier to schedule meetings with all of this in mind, redesigning its Working Hours feature and introducing a new RSVP feature.

The redesigned working hours will allow employees to include work schedule specifics so others can know when and where they’ll be working.

Meanwhile, the new RSVP feature means employees can specify whether they will be attending a meeting in-person or online. These features will start rolling out early next year.

Improved video for remote employees

While many of the new features revolve around the office side of hybrid working, Microsoft is also rolling out new features that will make remote employees’ experience better when participating in meetings, particularly when it comes to presentations. “We are investing to make remote presentations as effective and immersive,” the company said.

With this in mind, its launching Cameo, a new PowerPoint feature that integrates the Teams camera feed into your presentation, allowing the presenter to include themselves in the slides and customising where and how they appear. Cameo will start to roll out in early 2022.

A screenshot of a PowerPoint presentation with a person within the screen.

Image: Microsoft

The company is also rolling out lighting corrections in the coming months, which will help virtual participants’ video to show up better in low-light environments.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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