Microsoft yesterday announced new features for LinkedIn and Microsoft 365 designed to meet the needs of businesses transitioning to hybrid work during the pandemic. In a statement, CEO Satya Nadella said the capabilities, most of which are expected to launch within weeks, aim to make software and services more dynamic as the health crisis disrupts the planned return to the office.
“Our new data shows that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to hybrid work as employee expectations continue to change,” said Nadella. “The only way for organizations to solve this complexity is to embrace flexibility throughout their business model, including the way people work, where they live, and how they approach the business process.”
Outlook, Teams and Viva
In 2019, Microsoft launched Teams Rooms, a meeting room management platform coupled with a rebranded release of Skype Room Systems. After previewing new AI-powered tools coming to Teams Rooms earlier this year, Microsoft yesterday detailed what it calls “a new category of intelligent cameras” powered by active speaker tracking, multiple video streams and people recognition.
By tracking active speakers, Teams Room cameras in the room can use audio, facial gestures and gestures to detect who is speaking in the room — and zoom in for a better perspective. Multiple video streams allow participants to be placed in the room in their own video window. And people recognition identifies and displays the profile name of enrolled users in their video window.
Microsoft says all three new features will be available to OEMs in the coming months, including Jabra, Poly, Neat and Yealink, and will roll out as updates over the next year. One of the OEMs, Logi, plans to introduce an additional docking station with built-in speaker and touch controls optimized to work with Teams.
Other new Teams features announced yesterday include Dynamic View in Teams, which automatically adjusts elements of the meeting so that participants can better see the room and content. There are also updates to Companion Mode in Teams mobile, which gives room participants quick access to engagement features such as chat, live responses, Whiteboard, and meeting and device controls such as the ability to join a meeting, cast a PowerPoint, mute the room, and turn room cameras on and off.
New apps in Teams meetings support real-time interaction, allowing participants to share and use app content in the meeting stage. Meanwhile, new lighting fixes, to be released in the coming months, are designed to help participants appear in video-on meetings in low-light environments.
In PowerPoint, Microsoft is introducing a new feature called Cameo. Cameo, which debuts in 2022, integrates Teams’ camera feed into a presentation, allowing the presenter to customize how and where they want to appear with slides. Another new AI-powered feature, Speaker Coach – also launching next year – privately shares guidelines on users’ pace, notifies them if they interrupt someone, and reminds them to check in with their audience.
Hot desking and CarPlay
Another Teams capability unveiled this morning is support for hot desking, which allows people to find and reserve flexible workspaces in their office. Employees can pre-book rooms through Outlook or Teams to access their personal Teams calendar, chats, meetings, and more. New Outlook RSVP and work hours features allow people to specify whether they will attend in person or online, and include specific work schedules in their calendars.
Teams screens can be used as a standalone device or as a second screen with the hot desking experience. When signing out, personal data is removed from the device. Microsoft says the Lenovo ThinkSmart View will support the feature by the end of 2021, ahead of the arrival of Working hours and RSVP early next year.
Finally, in the area of Teams, Microsoft is adding support for Apple CarPlay. Starting this month, users can join Teams meetings and make hands-free calls on the go in supported cars – Siri pulls meetings when prompted.
LinkedIn and Viva
Microsoft has also announced a public preview of the Viva Connections mobile app, which is rolling out in September. Viva Connections builds on Teams, providing a point for news and conversations within a personalized feed. In the dashboard, employees can find resources and actionable tasks such as submitting expense reports, requesting time off work, or verifying vaccination status to return to the office.
On the LinkedIn side, the platform implements dedicated job search filters to more easily discover remote, hybrid, and onsite opportunities. LinkedIn will also soon provide a space in company profiles where companies can specify whether open positions should be vaccinated and whether the company plans to migrate back to an office, stay remote, or go hybrid.
To promote retraining, LinkedIn says its skills-building platform, LinkedIn Learning Hub, will be generally available in two weeks. By now, the social network has made nearly 40 LinkedIn Learning courses free through November 9, 2021.
“The shift to hybrid work is exciting, but will be challenging for every leader and organization. Organizations that embrace change and incorporate flexibility into their business models will create better and more inclusive work environments,” Microsoft Teams general manager Nicole Herskowitz wrote in a blog post. “At Microsoft, we are committed to supporting a hybrid work culture where flexibility is paramount – giving our customers and employees the ability to work anywhere, anytime and take control of their personal development and well-being.”
Source: venture beat