2022 Microsoft Features to Support Hybrid Working

April 1, 2022


After sending more than 160,000 employees to work from home and recruiting 25,000 new hires, Microsoft has significant experience managing remote teams. Subsequently, the tech giant has tapped into the lessons from this experience to help companies transition to hybrid work.

After nearly two years of working remotely, most workers are keen to maintain this lifestyle, but with a bit more in-person management. This turn of events is behind the push to embrace a hybrid office culture. Unfortunately, hybrid work is rife with challenges that leave many employees unseen and unheard.

Since Microsoft is a strong proponent of hybrid work, the tech giant is committed to hybrid innovation and helping companies get with it. Dive in as we explore some of the new Microsoft features introduced to support hybrid working.

Working Hours and Location

The working hours and location feature is a welcome addition for people who work in a hybrid work environment. Now you can plan out your entire week by earmarking the days you’ll be working remotely. Better yet, this feature allows you to set your core hours and even specify the location where you’ll be working from.

With many firms shifting to smaller office spaces, the working hours and location feature might be what the doctor ordered. Companies may use it to plan office logistics and avoid overcrowding. You can simply require employees to enter their information and use the data to create an effective co-working space schedule.

Microsoft is yet to announce how they’ll present this information as it seems rather detailed. However, given the sleek feature we’ve come to expect from the tech giant, we expect the feature to be intuitive. I presume you can access this information from your Microsoft Teams or Outlook information card. You might get the information by hovering the mouse over your calendar.

Meeting RSVP Options

Microsoft has updated the calendar scheduler to allow meeting participants to inform meeting organizers if they’ll be attending virtually or in-persons. This nifty feature eliminates logistical nightmares when booking meeting rooms. It allows you to book a meeting room based on the size of your quorum.

By allowing participants to RSVP well in advance, you can plan your meeting accordingly and avoid nasty surprises. Switching to a virtual meeting at the last minute can be disconcerting and may render a meeting unproductive. With the RSVP functionality, you can ensure each meeting is fruitful and successful.

AI-Powered Video Capabilities

Microsoft plans to harness the power of intelligent cameras to improve the meeting experience. It follows the recent introduction of enhanced audio and video capabilities such as intelligent speakers and improved in-room camera views. These features improve meetings by ensuring everyone is seen and heard.

Microsoft plans on using three innovative technologies to achieve this incredible feat.

  • AI-powered active speaker tracking: In-room cameras can use facial recognition to detect gestures and facial movements to identify a speaker and eliminate false detections.
  • Multiple video streams: Instead of the standard single-stream video stream that presents participants in a grid view, intelligent cameras can produce multiple video streams. In-room meeting participants will now be shown through an individualized feed as if they were joining the meeting using a personal device.
  • People recognition: Microsoft’s AI facial recognition technology will ensure no one gets lost in the crowd during a meeting. The technology will provide profile information for enrolled users in individual video panes. Users must opt-in through a one-off enrollment process to use this feature.

Companion Mode

The Companion Mode enables in-room meeting participants to control meeting room equipment and engage in meeting from their personal devices. With this feature, you can use you can chat, cast content, share live reactions, and collaborate from your personal device.

The feature also provides room device controls such as speaker volume, joining a meeting, turning the camera on/off, and muting/unmuting microphones.

Hot Desking

The new feature makes it easy and convenient to reserve your favorite spot while working from flexible workspaces. The hot desking experience feature is accessible through Teams and Outlook. It allows you to locate and reserve temporary workspaces on the Teams display, which is key to avoiding the downsides of hot desking.

Using your Microsoft 365 credentials to sign into the Teams display eliminates the need for additional authentication. You can also access files, meetings, chats, and more. You can use Teams display as a standalone device or connect it to your PC to have it double as a secondary screen.

Get Ready for the Hybrid Revolution

Microsoft is committed to the hybrid revolution and continually adds more features to Microsoft Teams and Office 365 to support the new office culture. Most of the new calendar features gear toward helping workers remain productive while eliminating logistical nightmares.

Employees can create their schedules and share them with the rest of the teams to avoid scheduling conflicts.

The introduction of intelligent cameras ensures each meeting participant is seen and heard while improving the viewing experience. The tech giant is set to use AI technology that recognizes gestures and facial features to minimize interruptions during meetings. Hot desking capabilities will help minimize conflicts in a shared co-working space by allowing workers to reserve a spot well in advance.

Shifting to hybrid work is exciting, but companies must overcome numerous challenges to create an enabling work environment. Microsoft is committed to helping companies embrace a hybrid work culture and hit the ground running.

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