15 July 2020

Microsoft Work Trend Index and new Microsoft Teams features

The health emergency has disrupted the world of work and changed the habits of millions of workers. Adaptation has been absorbed differently by each individual company. New technologies have made it possible to reconvert the business even remotely. Remote working, however, also has consequences for people's everyday lives. Microsoft Teams has introduced new features and functionality to reduce fatigue, improve interaction and sharing, and make processes more efficient


Work Trend Index

Last week Microsoft presented the results of the Work Trend Index, a survey on the recent change in work habits due to the health emergency, carried out by combining 3 data fronts:

  • The trends emerging from the use of Microsoft's digital collaboration tools;

  • The results of a global survey by Harris Poll that involved more than 2,000 people working remotely in 6 countries (about 350 individuals in Italy) until May 2020;

  • The data collected from over 30 Microsoft research projects that analyzed the reactions of "remote workers" through surveys, interviews, analysis, focus groups and real studies on the human brain.

What emerges from the Work Trend Index is basically the result of feedback from the "new worker" who had to adapt to the "new normality". Analyzing the trend of brain waves during remote initiatives and meetings, a greater mental fatigue on the part of the user was found than in traditional meetings. This is because it is still a change from our rooted habits over time and remote collaboration can be perceived as more challenging mentally than presence, as some stress indicators show. At the same time, however, the prospect of physically returning to the office is poorly digested by most users/workers. In short, post Covid19 readjustment is bound to leave a trail both in the dynamics of remote work and for those workers who are returning. This translates into a new challenge for collaboration tools, which have to raise the bar again to allow more performing and assimilable experiences by users.


The new features of Microsoft Teams

The challenge was promptly taken up by the Microsoft ecosystem:
"The current moment in history presents opportunities and challenges and Microsoft, whose mission is to help people and companies realize their potential, is working to rethink a new productivity, constantly improving digital collaboration tools for simplicity, effectiveness and security. Building on the insights of the Work Trend Index, Microsoft has developed new features and upgrades to optimize the performance of the cloud Teams platform, helping people create a more direct relationship with each other and reduce meeting fatigue. For example, the new 'Together mode' - which leverages AI to position people in a common background as if they were sitting around the same table - has been tested through bio-sensors and has proven less tiring for the human brain. The 'Dynamic View' display was also created for this purpose, to allow people to optimize video and content on the screen in a way that suits them best and according to the flow of the meetings", (Luba Manolova, Director of Microsoft 365 Division Microsoft Italy).

Microsoft Teams is therefore once again "spokesman" for user needs and will make available during the year several features in addition to those mentioned by Luba Manolova:

  • Video filters: to adjust the brightness;
  • Reflect messaging extension, to monitor the sentiment of your team and interact with actions to probe the mood of your resource
  • Live reactions, to react live with interactions and emoticons;
  • Chat bubbles, to make the chat experience within Microsoft Teams even more functional and complete;
  • Speaker attribution for live subtitles and transcription, which offers the possibility to attribute subtitles to each speaker and the real-time transcription function
  • Interactive meetings for more than 1000 participants: a function that allows to widen the boundaries for meetings with active participation of each user (for view-only presentation experiences, Teams already welcomes up to 20 thousand participants);
  • Microsoft Whiteboard updates: faster loading times, added sticky notes, lyrics and drag and dro
  • Task App: new unified view of Microsoft To Do, Planner and Outlook tasks;
  • Response suggestions: Here too, the potential of AI is used to create short, targeted responses based on previous messages;
  • Touchless meeting experiences: Microsoft Teams will offer content sharing on Surface Hub through the new "room control" in the mobile app that you can mute, activate the camera, adjust the audio or leave the meeting.

In short, a range of new features that will make the experience with Microsoft Teams more and more in line with the needs of users, providing a perfect work or study environment, able to generate a comfort zone to the benefit of efficiency, productivity and quality of life.


Danilo Stancato