Video calling and conferencing is not a new phenomenon. It is a tool used by the masses for day-to-day communication with loved ones or the office. But at the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, video conferencing became the only way to communicate while keeping a distance. A tool once coined for its ability to increase productivity was suddenly a cause of poor performance due to fatigue. Out of necessity, the research team at Microsoft got to work and developed Microsoft Teams Together Mode, to create a more interactive and engaging video conference experience.
Together Mode for COVID Era Conferences
We have been using video conferencing capabilities for years. But when the global pandemic hit, everyone turned to video calls for work, school, and socializing. Many thought it would be a smooth transition, yet it proved difficult in ways we never imagined. Video conferencing fatigue set in rather quickly. When a late-night talk show host was struggling to perform his monologue to a camera in his living room, Microsoft’s team of researchers got to work.
To soothe the digital communication fatigue, researchers developed Together Mode on Microsoft Teams. Together Mode places video call participants in a virtual space such as an auditorium, meeting room, or coffee bar, so it appears as though they are in the same place together. This new feature throws the traditional grid of boxes to the wayside, creating an environment that profoundly impacts team morale.
Additional Interactive Features in Microsoft Teams’ Together mode
Together mode is not the only way to enhance your video conferencing with Microsoft Teams. While businesses around the world, much like yours, were furiously working to transition to a remote office, Microsoft was furiously working to enhance their communication platform to meet your needs and exceed your expectations.
Here are a few additional interactive features designed to amplify your video conferencing experience:
Microsoft understands that Together Mode may not be the best layout for every meeting, so they created Dynamic view. Dynamic view enhances the traditional video meeting experience to be more engaging. By harnessing the power of AI, sessions can dynamically optimize shared content and video participants. The Dynamic view includes a large gallery view, where you can see the video of up to 49 people at once. Plus, virtual breakout rooms, which allow organizers to split meeting participants into smaller groups.
Many of us have become accustomed to using filters in photography and social media apps. Now, Microsoft offers filters for your video in Microsoft Teams. Before joining the meeting, you can use filters to adjust lighting levels subtly and soften the camera focus to customize your appearance.
Reflect messaging extension
Creating an emotionally supportive work environment is incredibly pertinent during these challenging times. It is vital to keeping your team healthy, happy, and focused. With the new Reflect messaging extension, managers, leaders, and teachers can easily check-in with how their team and students feel in general or about specific assignments. Managers and teachers can also choose to make poll results anonymous, enabling individuals to feel safe and secure when addressing sensitive matters.
It can be challenging to notice non-verbal interactions over video conferencing, and non-verbal interactions are vital to creating an environment where everyone feels seen and heard. To reduce the size of this communication gap, which inherently comes with video conferencing, Microsoft is adding live reactions. This feature allows users to provide instant feedback via emojis to the presenter.
During video conferences, the chat room is a space for conversation and idea-sharing, allowing team members to join the discussion without having to verbally participate. Unfortunately, it is easy to neglect chat rooms when trying to juggle the meeting space, presentations, and chats at the same time. To solve this problem, Microsoft Teams users will soon be able to send chats that will appear on every attendees screen, making it a more inclusive experience.
Speaker attribution for live captions and transcripts
Microsoft Teams already provides live captions as an option to follow along in a meeting, but soon they will add speaker attribution captions and live transcripts. Live transcripts will be automatically saved in a tab as a part of the meeting after it ends.
Interactive meetings for 1,000 participants and overflow
Sometimes conferences consist of more than 100 participants, or even more than 1,000 participants. Microsoft Teams is growing to support interactive meetings where attendees can chat, unmute to talk, and turn on video for up to 1,000 participants. And when you need to bring more people together to watch a presentation or discussion, Teams can support a view-only experience for up to 20,000 attendees.
Opening the Door to Third-Party App Integration
Microsoft is taking interactive to the next level by enabling third-party app developers to integrate into Microsoft Teams for the first time. New developer-focused features will allow apps to integrate into video meetings, displaying content and notifications during calls. Before, if you wanted to share an app or anything more than a webcam in Teams, you would have to share your screen. Now, the new features will allow developers to extend functions beyond the basics while maintaining high privacy standards.
It is imperative to check in with your team during these turbulent times to get a clear reading on how well they handle the transition and the prolonged change. New features and enhanced video conferencing platforms such as Microsoft Teams can differentiate productivity and poor performance. If you are curious about how these new changes will affect your current remote office protocol or how best to leverage the latest tech, The Bauen Group is ready to answer your questions and help you at any time.