During the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft Teams has cemented its position as the go-to platform for remote workers, with over 115 million daily users. Rather than resting on its laurels, Microsoft has used this success as a basis to improve every aspect of the Teams experience. Here are a few of the new features:
Meetings and calls
While it boasts many other features, meetings and conference calls are a key part of Teams. Microsoft regularly introduces new updates to streamline Teams calls, and this month is no different. Teams already provides live captions, allowing you to read what is being said in real time. Microsoft has now combined this with speaker attribution, so you can also see who is saying what. This will make meetings more inclusive, as participants who are deaf or hard-of-hearing will no longer have to wonder which caption applies to which speaker
Elsewhere, the new spotlight feature allows you to ‘pin’ a certain speaker, making theirs the main video for all participants. This is especially useful if you wish to lead a meeting with your employees as it keeps the focus on you rather than switching between participants. You can also prevent attendees from unmuting until they ‘raise their hand’, helping you to keep control of meetings with large numbers of participants.
Finally, Microsoft has made some changes to the ways in which meeting data is stored. Recordings of all meetings and calls are now automatically saved to OneDrive for Business or SharePoint. This allows you to easily find and access past meetings, and to share them with others. The company has also improved the Teams participant reports, which can now be downloaded directly from the meeting chat and contain more detailed data on who attended the meeting. This means that you can keep track of which employees attended which meetings, allowing you to catch up with anyone who was absent.
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Chat and collaboration
As well as hosting calls and meetings, Teams provides a highly effective shared workspace for you and your employees. This is another area in which Microsoft regularly introduces new features. The new offline presence status allows users to signal to their colleagues that they are unavailable whilst continuing to make use of the Teams workspace. This will help your employees to set firm boundaries, reducing the stress of being ‘always on call’ that often comes with remote working.
Teams is all about collaboration, and sharing files is an important part of this. Microsoft has introduced a new file sharing experience, allowing users to create a shareable link for any file and choose who has access to it.
The creation of teams themselves has also been streamlined with a selection of new templates to choose from when forming a team. This allows you to easily create subgroups of employees with different areas of expertise. You can also create your own custom templates.
Finally, Microsoft has introduced language-aware proofing to the messaging on Teams. You can now communicate in multiple languages and the Teams spell checker will automatically adapt to whichever language you are using.
The future of work is evolving into hybrids of remote and office-based and it’s reassuring to know that Teams will be there to help us stay in touch whichever format prevails. Be sure to make the most of working remotely thanks to Teams.
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