As the world continues to plunge deeper into the pandemic, the need for improved virtual communication and collaboration is at an all-time high. And with increasing isolation and the shift from conventional office work to remote working, SaaS companies are rushing to ensure that they provide tools that give communication a semblance of normalcy. Leading the pack is Microsoft, which is now rolling out new features for its communication platform, Microsoft Teams, with the aim of making virtual interactions more engaging, more natural, and more human.
According to their press release, the improved features will also reduce meeting fatigue, make collaboration more inclusive and streamline workflows. Microsoft is seeking to introduce newer, faster, and more efficient ways to enable people to stay connected and productive from wherever they may be across the globe.
The most impactful of all the new features is the Virtual Breakout Rooms feature, which was initially limited to some GCC tenants but will now be available to all users. With this new feature, meeting organizers can split their meetings into groups for smaller interactions.
“Since breakout rooms are Teams meetings, all the innovation that makes Teams meetings inclusive, interactive, and intelligent are available within,” a spokesperson at Microsoft said about the new feature. “Attendees can discuss a topic in their breakout room while in a virtual coffee shop in Together mode. Or students can bring up the Microsoft Whiteboard and draw out their ideas. This is also true of our security features that help make your Teams meetings a safe and secure place to meet,”
In addition to Breakout Rooms, Microsoft is also releasing new holiday-themed backgrounds for Together Mode that are sure to put attendees in a festive mood. Together Mode is a feature that uses AI segmentation that places attendees against a similar background to make them feel like they’re sitting in the same meeting room. It’s a great feature for discussion and brainstorming sessions where multiple users will speak. The platform also introduced a Dynamic View feature that gives the users control over what they share with the participants of the meeting and allows them to personalize the view to their liking.
Another fun addition to Microsoft Teams is new video filters and live emoji reactions that will make meetings more interactive and engaging to users. The feature will allow users to respond to other participants using emojis since non-verbal cues are usually difficult to pick up during online meetings. The new filters are similar to those used on various social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook that help users customize their appearance.
To get Breakout Rooms and other features, ensure you’ve enabled the new meeting experience on the settings panel. For questions and inquiries about managing and creating Breakout Rooms during meetings, visit Microsoft’s support page here.