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New Microsoft Teams, Outlook features are designed for hybrid remote work

Microsoft is detailing new research centered around the ongoing “reshuffle” to hybrid work. It is also showcasing solutions to help support the new normal for organizations where a mix of employees might work from both at home and in the office. New features for Teams, Outlook, and even LinkedIn and PowerPoint all fit in with those plans.

Leading these features is a slight update to Outlook. As part of helping meeting organizers understand who will be at a meeting, the Outlook RSVP feature will let people specify whether they will attend meetings in person or remotely.

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The new RSVP experience open in Outlook on the web.

Fitting in with that, Microsoft is even redesigning the Working Hours tool. It will let you include work schedule specifics directly in your calendar, so others can know when and where you’ll be working. Both features will be coming early next year.

PowerPoint meanwhile is picking up a neat integration with Microsoft Teams. Coming in 2022, a new PowerPoint experience called Cameo will allow presenters in Teams meetings to customize how and where they appear on the screen with their slides. This builds on the existing work Microsoft has done with Speaker Coach, which can help improve your presentation skills.

Then there are the futuristic innovations for Microsoft Teams Rooms — the popular conference room system. Microsoft will be introducing A.I.-enabled cameras, which can use audio, facial movements, and gestures to detect who in the room is speaking and also zoom in on them for a better perspective.

Multiple video streams and people recognition are the other two features. These are designed to allow in-room participants to be in their own video pane, and also identify the profile name of enrolled users within their video pane.

Other features coming to support hybrid work include search filters on LinkedIn that will make it easier to search for remote, hybrid, and onsite job opportunities. There are also new (free) LinkedIn Learning courses that make learning skills for remote and hybrid jobs easier. Microsoft is even pushing out a public preview of the Viva Connections app in Teams, which can help in tasks like expense reports, requesting time off, and doing timesheets.

Hybrid work is becoming more important to get right, as even Microsoft is delaying a full office reopening. The company had planned for October 4 to be the first date to reopen its Redmond, Washington, offices, but the new COVID-19 strains have pushed back plans. You can see the full details in Microsoft’s report in the Work Trend Index.

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