Why You Should Be Using Microsoft Teams to Improve Your Remote Working Experience

Alongside the shift from office-based to remote working came the boom of programs such as Microsoft Teams in order to streamline remote working practices. Microsoft Teams is an amazing program that allows you to keep your files, conversations and video meetings all in one place, making remote working much simpler and more fluid.

The application has been getting new updates and features throughout the year, especially since Spring 2020 with the Coronavirus pandemic and the consequent immense uptake of the program. Microsoft has added these features to make the software much more flexible and user-friendly for large teams to work on, making the working experience more immersive and streamlined, and productive.

The switch from full-time office-based working to mainly remote working has been an interesting adjustment for many of us. Some of us love the work from home life, and others miss the buzz of an office environment. With Microsoft Teams, you can have the best of both worlds, staying connected with your coworkers throughout the day from the comfort of your own home.

Below we’ve compiled a list of our favourite Teams’ new features.

Together Mode

In the midst of the pandemic, Microsoft wanted to find a way for workplaces to feel more connected despite working from home. They launched Together Mode in order to attempt this, a feature that used AI-powered segmentation to put all meeting participants in a meeting in one virtual space. The aim of the feature is to make employees feel as though they’re all sitting in the same room, helping them to see the other participants non-verbal cues.

This feature was so well revived that the NBA used it to recreate the atmosphere of a full arena, without anyone actually being there. The NBA completed their 2019-2020 season safely tucked away inside a COVID-safe bubble while maintaining the exciting, adrenaline-inducing atmosphere by displaying virtual fans on a range of 17-foot video screens surrounding the basketball court.

Together Mode was designed to give meeting participants a sense of togetherness, and couldn’t have come at a better time. The feature also allows participants to hold their meeting on a range of backdrops, setting the tone for a meeting. Choose from a typical conference room backdrop to an auditorium or even a coffee shop.

Custom Layouts

In the near future, you will be able to create custom layouts for your team’s meetings. Although the aesthetics of the meeting and the engagements of participants will subsequently be improved, this is not the main goal of the feature. The custom layouts feature is designed to streamline meetings, with presenters being able to transpose their video feed over a PowerPoint slide show so that participants won’t have to flick between the video feed and the slide show.

Breakout Rooms

The benefit of Teams has always been that it ties easily into your Office 365 account, although Zoom has previously taken the cake when it comes to the use of breakout rooms. Teams have recently announced its new Breakout Rooms feature, allowing meeting participants to break off into smaller group subsections for anything from specified discussions to team-building exercises.

One main feature of Breakout Rooms is the fact that the meeting organizer can hop between different breakout rooms to check in on progress and steer employees in the desired direction. This is meant to be the equivalent of team managers walking around the room and seeing how everyone’s getting on. You can even call everyone back into the main meeting, without having to raise your voice once.

Wellbeing and Productivity Insights

Remote working has many benefits, such as eradicating the commute and being able to work in a more comfortable and familiar setting. But it has become clear over the past months that it can also take a psychological toll, many employees now missing the atmosphere of an office environment and perhaps feeling quite isolated. There aren’t nearby employees to ask a simple question for assistance, and time can feel more fluid, many not knowing when to clock off for the day.

Microsoft has therefore made its MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics features compatible with Teams, meaning you’ll be able to easily identify trends in your working patterns and create a structure for yourself that works for you. This feature doesn’t just allow you to become more productive but also encourages mindfulness breaks via the Headspace app.

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