Microsoft unveils 10 tech innovations to aid hybrid working

Two years after the shift to hybrid work started, Microsoft unveils 10 innovations across Teams, 365 and Viva to help leaders navigate a hybrid workforce

To help leaders continue to navigate the shift to a hybrid workforce, Microsoft has announced new features across Microsoft Teams, Microsoft 365, Surface Hub, and Microsoft Viva – designed to help businesses empower hybrid work and address employees' new expectations for the workplace.

The launch of these new features come two years after the start of the pandemic, which changed the way in which we work forever, and arrive along with the tech giant’s release of its second annual Work Trend Index report, titled ‘Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work Work’.

Work has changed forever – from hybrid to the Great Reshuffle

One thing from the report’s findings is clear – we are not the same people that went home to work in early 2020. The collective experience of the past two years has left a lasting imprint, fundamentally changing how we define the role of work in our lives.

The data shows the Great Reshuffle is far from over. Employees everywhere are rethinking their ‘worth it’ equation and are voting with their feet. And as more people experience the upsides of flexible work, the more heavily it factors into the equation.

For Gen Z and Millennials, there’s no going back. And with other generations not far behind, companies must meet employees where they are.

"There's no erasing the lived experience and lasting impact of the past two years, as flexibility and well-being have become non-negotiables for employees," says Jared Spataro, corporate vice president, Modern Work, Microsoft. "By embracing and adapting to these new expectations, organizations can set their people and their business up for long-term success." 

10 new features to make ‘hybrid work’ work for everyone

Making hybrid work work for everyone will require intentional leadership around how, when, and where to work — and technology has a key role to play.

As Microsoft marks five years since the launch of Teams, more than 270 million people rely on Teams for hybrid work, and two years since the shift to hybrid, it unveils 10 new product innovations designed to improve the hybrid work experience.

1. Teams Connect shared channels to enable collaboration

Available in public preview at the end of March 2022, Teams Connect shared channels is set to enable collaboration with people inside and outside the organisation from a shared workspace.

2. New layout for Teams Rooms to fuse digital and physical

To bridge the gap between digital and physical workspaces, a new meeting layout for Teams Rooms, front row, is now available in preview.

3. Surface Hub 2 Smart Camera, Teams Room display to enhance collaboration

The new touch-enabled display solutions for Teams Rooms from Neat and Yealink are in the process of being certified for Teams Rooms on Android. These devices combine audio, video, touch display and compute in a single unit — allowing easy deployment and enhanced collaboration experiences. The new AI-powered Microsoft Surface Hub 2 Smart Camera uses automatic framing technology to dynamically adjust your Teams video feed to provide remote team members with a dynamic view of in-room interactions.

4. Teams’ language interpretation feature to communicate globally

The language interpretation feature in Teams enables live interpreters to convert what the speaker says into another language in near real time. The meeting organiser can assign interpreters and select up to 16 source and target language combinations, while attendees will hear the translation.

5. New capabilities for Whiteboard to bring visual collaboration to life

Microsoft Whiteboard in Teams offers a rich set of new capabilities that bring visual collaboration to life, including collaboration cursors, more than 50 new templates, contextual reactions, and the ability to open existing boards and collaborate with external colleagues in Teams meetings.

6. Loop components in Outlook mail to improve hybrid brainstorming

To improve hybrid brainstorming, completion of action items and making decisions together without having to switch context or apps, Microsoft is introducing Loop components in Outlook mail. RSVPing for a meeting in Outlook now allows attendees to note whether they plan to join in person or virtually.

7. New offerings in Teams Phone to move calls seamlessly

Microsoft is introducing a new offering in Microsoft Teams Phone called Operator Connect Mobile, in partnership with some of the world's largest telecom operators. This assigns a single business-provided mobile phone number for desktop and mobile devices, making it seamless to move calls across networks and devices with no interruptions.

8. 1,800 new 3D emojis to add expression to communication

With vibrant and fun styling, over 1,800 new 3D fluent emojis can infuse expression and playfulness into messages. And with the skin tone selector, users have the option to pick emojis that better represents themselves.

9. New PowerPoint features to present in Teams, live or not

To support flexible work styles, two PowerPoint experiences, cameo and recording studio, are being brought together. This will make it possible for presenters to deliver presentations with PowerPoint Live in Teams, whether or not they attend the meeting.

10. New Viva feature gives access to thought leadership from top sources

A new feature called the Inspiration library is coming to Microsoft Viva in public preview as part of the Viva Insights app in Teams. The library is designed to give employees, managers and leaders easy access to thought leadership and best practices from top sources such as Harvard Business Review and Thrive.

Read Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index

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