Microsoft updates apps for our future hybrid work collaborative features

by -
Image: Microsoft – Microsoft updates teams, Office 365 and more, with a number of new features, to tackle the challenges of people who work from the home, the office or a mix of the two.

The addition of fluid components for team meetings, Onenote, Outlook and Whiteboard are one of the most important changes. Fluid components are a variety of lists, tables and items for those who are not familiar with cooperation features by Microsoft that can be shared with colleagues in real-time or asynchronously edited.

Expanded Tools of Collaboration

Back in earlier this year at its Build event, the Microsoft teams were chatting and Office apps with Fluid component support. With these collaborative tools now being expanded to a larger range of productive applications, Microsoft hopes to facilitate more collaboration, in particular for people who work with a mix of office and remote employees. Microsoft says Fluid components should help take notes during a meeting and workers should be able to better manage and save components more organized by taking the new notes and tasks automatically “placing” at the right point based on meetings of the people.

Rooms teams are redecorating

In the interim, Microsoft also updates the way video meetings look at Teams Room with a new frontline layout to help address a sometimes awkward interface between bureaucrats and remote workers during meetings. Microsoft’s video gallery is moved to the bottom of the panel, the meeting chat is more visible, and items like notes and agendas are added in the main presentation, and users are told that they should be more comfortable with everyone sharing the same common space rather than with people who are physically able to attend.

Here’s an example of how the new front row layout will look like in Teams Rooms
Image: Microsoft

To highlight remote workers, in addition, the new video gallery will also expand, with other updates that include the addition of new live responses, a focus light and even multiple streams and chat bubbles into the classic video layout, to show the webcams of people on multiple displays.

Naturally, it is also important to take into account the hardware that these meetings run when we speak of video meetings. To help improve hybrid functioning, Microsoft said it is partnering with a number of Jabra, Logitech, Poly and Neat partners to create new video views for meetings. And Microsoft can also use voice recognition to mark current speakers with smart speakers from EPOS and Yealink and automatically add their names to the meetings. (Although you must run all of the teams in advance through an initial registration process.)

And Microsoft is developing a new experience for Teams Rooms to make the best out from all the screen- and touch support for companies who have invested in fancy tech such as surface hub.

Updates on Whiteboard

If Fluid components are not enough to stimulate team-wide collaboration, Microsoft will also update Whiteboard with new features to support hybrid working, including a new UI, enhanced style support, guided partnerships and even more Microsoft 365 integration.

In digital presentations, Microsoft adds a laser pointer to help highlight your topic while new Whiteboarder templates and a new collaboration cursor are designed to help people work together on the same project at one and the same time.

A preview of the new UI in the Whiteboard app.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft is also updating its Picture and Documents insert feature to make online content sharing easier. And Microsoft also adds improved inking for styluses, which makes lines appear flatter and uses more form recognition, so that you can highlight specific items without distracting people who are unable to draw circles or straight lines.

The new user interface contains an updated range of visual collaboration tools, a new top bar and a more harmonized layout which should offer a more consistent experience across a range of devices and platforms.

Integration of headspace

A preview of the new quiet time settings in Microsoft’s Viva Insights
Image: Microsoft

In order to help improve mental health for the workers, in Microsoft Viva Insights, Microsoft introduces a new focal mode, calm time and integrated meditation. The focus mode will initially allow people to block times in their schedule, and by the end of this year, focus mode also includes music and timers to help you get things done while still including scheduled breaks. The quiet time settings make it easier to silence notifications outside work horses and to help preserve an even balance of healthy work and life (whatever that means today) with statistics that show how well you can decompose.

Although the software’s productivity is nice, Microsoft embraces the transition to more flexible working conditions and often feels that remote workers have to take a rear seat in relation to their employees.

The new hybrid work updates for Microsoft are due to begin today with further updates and features to be updated during the summer.