New Microsoft Teams and Outlook Features Aimed at Hybrid Workers
Microsoft announced that it will be updating its email and collaboration service, Outlook, as well as its Teams collaboration software, in the coming months with features that are specifically designed to meet the needs of hybrid workers—those who spend at least some of their time working on the go from their mobile devices and outside of the office.
What is a hybrid worker?
A hybrid worker is someone who uses more than one device to communicate, take care of business tasks, or both. With the growing number of employees embracing flexible work schedules, many find themselves spending a chunk of their day outside of the office in an environment that’s not conducive to traditional desk work. The new update from Microsoft is designed to make it easier for those people by implementing features like real-time syncing of email attachments between devices and intelligent voicemail transcription for quick reference on your mobile device.
The term hybrid worker may sound vague, but when you break it down into two parts – hybrid and worker – it paints a clear picture of what this type of person does.
What are the key updates?
Microsoft’s updates to its Office 365 products (Outlook and Teams) were meant to make it easier for people who are constantly on the go or are working from home. One of the main updates was the incorporation of search into teams. It will now be possible to search within a team chat thread, regardless of who originally started it. Another significant update is that members can now view files such as Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, and images shared by others in their team as well as edit them right in the chat window. The update also makes it easier for users to set up meetings by allowing others to reply back with their availability during an existing group chat session (instead of having to open a separate email).
How does this compare to Slack, HipChat, etc.?
While Slack offers many of the same features as a workplace chat app, its selling point is that it’s very easy to add in outside services, like Google Drive or Salesforce. HipChat doesn’t offer as much integrations with third-party apps. This new update for Microsoft Teams will let users communicate with customers on different channels, like voice, email or text message. It also offers automated meetings via Skype so you can collaborate from anywhere. The company says this update will bring productivity to an entirely new level.
In general, these updates are designed to give more power back to teams by letting them have more control over what they need when they need it.
What about other integrations?
The hybrid workforce is made up of both people who work mostly remotely and people who have their desks at an office. With that in mind, the new updates for Teams offer a ton of new features for both types of workers. With the new Drive Connector, teams can seamlessly integrate with Google Drive, SharePoint or OneDrive to keep files and conversations organized. This update also allows customers to seamlessly transition from calls or meetings in Skype to chatting on Teams—with one tap it’s possible to switch between chat rooms in a conference call so everyone can speak privately while they’re chatting together. The updates are geared towards workstyles like video conferencing, VoIP, screen sharing, file storage, etc.
What about customer lock-in?
One of the things that came up in the dialogue was how can you make it so people don’t feel stuck to one company, said Nadella. Maybe they want to use Office 365 in the enterprise, but not all day long, so that way they’re given a choice on how much of an Office 365 person they want to be.
Microsoft wants their customers to be able to stay with them for as long as possible, but also understands the desire for their customers not to be locked into one product or service. As such, this new update will give customers more options and freedom when using Microsoft’s services. For example, adding features like Shared Space which lets employees from different companies work together in a shared space within Outlook. The new features are designed to meet the needs of employees who have multiple jobs and might not need certain tools during specific periods.
A look ahead
Microsoft is set to launch a handful of new features in their collaboration suite of products aimed at addressing the needs of hybrid workers. These will likely be announced during their annual Ignite conference happening on September 24th, 2022. Key updates will include tighter integration with third-party apps like Slack and Trello, better collaboration with OneDrive for Business, and additional security controls to mitigate risks such as credential theft from phishing attacks. We’re looking forward to seeing what else Microsoft has in store! Microsoft Teams & Outlook – More details coming soon
On September 24th, 2022 Microsoft is set to announce new product features that are aimed at meeting the needs of hybrid workers.
Key updates will include tighter integration with third-party apps like Slack and Trello, better collaboration with OneDrive for Business, and additional security controls to mitigate risks such as credential theft from phishing attacks.