With the government recently announcing another UK-wide lockdown due to a spike in coronavirus cases, businesses will once again be relying on Microsoft Teams to continue operating throughout a period of widespread remote working.

Although Teams is already a familiar fixture within most organisations, with over 115 million daily active users, Microsoft is still keen to implement new and exciting features that will enhance the user experience, retaining and expanding their already large customer base.

For this reason, Microsoft has introduced a range of improvements over the past month, many of which have been in direct response to customer feedback.

From new meetings and calling features such as live captions with speaker attribution to chat and collaboration enhancements like offline presence status, there are a number of key changes that businesses can be excited about, despite the looming lockdown.

We’ve taken a closer look at some of these key announcements, analysing what impact they will have on our clients and customers.

Meetings and calling

The opportunity for face-to-face meetings will be limited with the introduction of another national lockdown, as businesses turn to services like Microsoft Teams to keep in contact with colleagues and host daily meetings.

In the past month, Microsoft has introduced a range of exciting features in a bid to enhance the meetings and calling experience for its users. One such improvement includes live captions with speaker attribution, which will allow participants to see who is speaking along with what is being said, making meetings more inclusive and easier to follow.

Meanwhile, meeting hosts can use the new spotlight feature to pin an individual video feed for all participants to see during a meeting. This pinned video will become the main video feed, which is perfect for presentations and interviews.

Meeting organisers can now also prevent specific attendees from unmuting during meetings and enable certain participants to unmute themselves by selecting the ‘raise hand’ feature. This feature may be helpful in Q&A scenarios, where those asking the questions raise their hands to signal before speaking.

Finally, another significant feature introduced in the past month sees meeting and call recordings stored in OneDrive and SharePoint. Although it may sound straightforward, this important improvement will make it easier for colleagues to share files with guests or external users, whilst managing recordings with security and compliance controls in place.

Chat and collaboration

One of the main appeals of Microsoft Teams is that it allows colleagues to stay in contact through convenient chat features, whilst sharing important files and documents for collaboration purposes.

There have been a number of significant improvements made to chat and collaboration in recent weeks, including the new offline presence status, which allows users to change their presence to ‘offline’ if they are working on something important and don’t want to be disturbed.

For organisations with global workforces spanning a variety of countries, the new language-aware proofing feature will offer spellchecking relevant to the language being used.

When it comes to creating a new team, it can sometimes be difficult for inexperienced Teams users to create one efficiently. Now, users can choose from a variety of customisable templates, allowing them to add the people they need to, so they can get started right away. With this update, IT professionals can also create new custom templates for their organisation, allowing them to standardise team structures and practices.

Finally, employees will now find it much easier to stay in the loop and receive updates on tasks through enhancements to the global notification settings. Via the settings menu, users can configure and customise notifications through a newly designed interface, making it easier for them to keep on top of tasks during the lockdown.

Collaborate with ease…

With businesses temporarily closing their offices in line with government guidance, Microsoft Teams will once again become the main facilitator of communication and collaboration within many organisations.

Online conferences and calls will become the new working normal, and for colleagues in different locations, services like Teams offer a suitable alternative in the absence of face-to-face meetings.

Instead of standing still, Microsoft continues to address customer feedback in relation to Teams, implementing new features that will enhance the user experience for everyone, so that businesses can continue operating as normal.

Although most organisations will already be familiar with the service, there may be some that haven’t yet implemented the system themselves but would like to experience its benefits now that a new lockdown has been announced.

If your organisation falls into that category, then contact our in-house team of experts and find a solution that meets your unique requirements.