Is your organisation ready to adapt to a hybrid working environment? 

For the majority of corporates, the future is hybrid – a blended model where some employees return to the workplace and others continue to work from home. Microsoft has adapted and evolved their strategy to support the future of hybrid work.

With the pandemic catalyzing the rising use of video meetings, people now rely on video to help drive comprehension, engagement, visibility, and connection. This period of remote work has also helped put people on equal footing, allowing everyone to feel included and represented in meetings. With this, people’s expectations for collaborative experiences have changed, and most organizations aren’t ready to meet these demands.

The time to build and act on a hybrid work plan is now, while many offices are empty and the chance of disruption is low. In March, Microsoft unveiled their vision for the future of Teams Rooms, and in June they shared new innovations designed to help people connect and engage, regardless of where they work. Below, we’ll expand on new experiences coming to Microsoft Teams Rooms and Teams devices, built to facilitate hybrid work across different spaces in the office.

Introducing a new category of intelligent cameras for Teams Rooms

In June, Microsoft announced audio and video capabilities including intelligent speakers, and improved views from in-room cameras, designed to help every person in the room be seen and heard clearly. They further also announced how they will build onto those capabilities through a new category of intelligent cameras that help deliver a more equitable meeting experience. Three unique technologies power this new category of cameras: AI-powered active speaker tracking, multiple video streams that place in-room participants in the own video pane, and people recognition.

With AI-powered active speaker tracking, in-room cameras can use additional cues beyond audio to refine the accuracy of its speaker detection capabilities. By using Microsoft’s AI facial recognition technology, cameras can detect facial movements and gestures to help establish a person is speaking, and not just creating background noise which can trigger false detections.

When joining a meeting from a shared space it can be easy to get lost in the crowd, especially when individual names are missing from the gallery view. In the coming months, we’ll enable people recognition using Microsoft’s AI facial recognition technology, allowing the profile information of enrolled users to appear in the individual video panes coming from a Teams Room. Their names will also be grouped in the meeting roster, clearly indicating they are in the room. People recognition settings can be adjusted in the Teams Admin Center and requires users to opt-in through a one-time, secure enrollment process.

Engage in meetings and control Teams Room devices from a unified experience on mobile

To help people in shared meeting spaces establish their presence and engage in meetings, Microsoft is bringing companion mode features in mobile together into a single, intuitive user experience. Companion mode allows in-room participants to engage in meetings and control meeting room equipment right from their personal device. Through this experience people can use their personal device to participate in chat, share live reactions, cast content into the meeting, and collaborate using the Microsoft Whiteboard. They can also access room device controls like join meeting, speaker volume, mute or unmute microphones, turn cameras on or off, and more. The updated companion mode experience will be available in the next few months.

And finally, they are improving Dynamic View – this helps ensure that regardless of what Teams Room camera is used, people in the room can be seen even more clearly. Updates will come to Dynamic View in Q1 of 2022.

Reserve flexible workspaces and access your personal Teams experience with hot desking on Teams display

As employees become more mobile across work locations, they will need spaces in the office where they can touch down to get work done. To support people using these flexible workspaces, Microsoft announced a hot desking experience on Teams display. This experience allows employees to quickly locate and reserve temporary workspaces in advance through Teams and Outlook, or right from the device if they’re already in the office.

Without any additional authentication, people can make calls and set-up ad hoc meetings. By signing in with their personal Microsoft 365 credentials, people have access to their personalized Teams experience where they can access meetings, chats, files, and more. Teams display can be used as a standalone device or connected to a PC where it can serve as a second screen, freeing up your laptop for focused work

The shift to hybrid work won’t be easy, but getting started today, while many are still working remotely, can lead to a smoother transition. As we all continue to learn in this new world of work, Microsoft remains committed to investing in hybrid innovation, and partnering with their customers along the journey.

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