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The world has changed. For those lucky enough to have a job, the future of work from home – permanently – has changed.

Now, for a while, it was fun. Go to work in you PJs; don’t have to shave (noticed more male colleagues have beards); couldn’t go to the hairdresser (noticed more female colleagues had different coloured hair); and a certain more casual attitude to work from home. As if it was not as serious as well, work from work.

Work from Home

Then we realised that like all good honeymoon’s it was time to get serious and be uber-productive about work from home – or lose that irreplaceable job. That means an explosion of video conferences using all manner of apps, including free ones that we really should not allow on corporate networks.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I felt a certain sameness whether it was with Cisco WebEx, Google Meet, BlueJeans, Skype or Microsoft Teams. Log in, mute the audio and or video, listen to a colleague drone on accompanied by PowerPoint presentation, ask a question (to prove you were awake) and disappear to get a cuppa during the boring bits.

Microsoft Teams aims to change work from home to the norm with a raft of new and coming soon features.

I am going to provide two links to Microsoft Blogs rather than regurgitate everything.

First, the research link that provides the basis for change. In brief

  • Remote meeting fatigue is real
  • Video meetings over 30-40 minutes are pointless
  • Finding private workspace in shared homes needs new tech
  • People feel more included when their colleagues are all in a Team meeting
  • Flexible work hours means you get more done, usually from 6-9 AM
  • 82% of managers have changed their opinion to have more flexible work from home policies
  • 71% expect to continue to work from home

It is an interesting read.

So enter Microsoft Teams WFH edition!

The research has driven a reimagining of the traditional video conference app. Microsoft is the first to announce its wider intentions, and frankly, I have fewer issues with Teams than any other app -so great.

  • Together mode places all participants in a shared virtual background to engender more closeness. It helps participants to notice body language cues and enables brainstorming without the usual unmute the mic and wait your turn to speak.
  • Dynamic view auto switches the view depending on the content, who is speaking and more. It’s a more natural approach that the passive app.
  • Video filters are a way to adjust your image and background
  • Reflect messaging – an easy way to poll participants feelings on a wide range of subjects
  • Live reactions using emoji to tell what you think
  • Chat bubbles as well as a chat panel
  • Speaker attributions for live captions and transcripts (more accessibility features)
  • Interactive meetings for 1000 people and view only for 20,000
  • Breakout rooms to segregate groups for tasks
  • Whiteboard updates and new collaboration tools especially if you don’t have ‘touch’
  • Tasks app to allocate tasks to Outlook or other daily planners
  • One Tap Suggested replies
  • Using Cortana AI to provide voice assistance for sharing files, to set up meetings
  • Dedicated Teams video conference displays like the Lenovo ThinkSmart View
  • Touchless meeting experiences

In all, Microsoft is trying to make Teams the go-to mechanism for in-house and extended video meetings and collaboration.

GadgetGuy’s take – Work from home may get even better

I have done countless video conferences now, and without exception, everything Microsoft has found in its research is relevant.

What I miss is the cut and thrust of daily office life and the culture. It appears the new Teams will enable that and possibly replace emails and phone calls as the best way to interact with fellow workers.

If you add that to changes in things like Microsoft’s OneDrive collaboration features (that you previously needed SharePoint to access) and new workflow features in Microsoft 365, then the future of work from home is looking far brighter.

You can read GadgetGuy’s work from home guide here.