Working from home has drastically changed many people’s lives, for good. When working from the comfort of one’s home, there’s ample time for building stronger relationships with family members, taking part and being active in community work, and doing things other than office work.
However, the one important aspect of work that many remote workers miss out on is social interactions. According to an Airtasker report, 70% of remote workers rank the importance of social interactions high.
But Microsoft is well aware of that and is coming up with a solution to bridge the gap between work-related social interactions and productivity. The tech giant is revamping its most popular cloud-based collaboration tool, Teams, with mixed reality capabilities. And with new mixed reality features added through Microsoft Mesh, remote working teams will be able to work as their digital avatar and make remote working fun and productive.
Remote working in Microsoft Teams headed for a culture shift
It goes without saying that Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) has always been about helping companies make the most out of productivity and efficiency with some of the most cutting-edge collaboration tools. And old and new work tools in Microsoft 365, including Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft OneDrive, and Microsoft SharePoint Online offer some of the best online working tools for working professionals in any domain.
But Microsoft isn’t limiting itself to the features it already offers in its work tools. As a part of always pushing the boundaries of innovation, Microsoft is set to improve the experience of using Microsoft Teams by leaps and bounds.
Metaverse is now a hot topic in the tech space, many technology companies have already started embracing metaverse, and Microsoft is no exception. The technology giant has joined the bandwagon in order to leverage the metaverse experience in the best way possible.
The company is giving its most popular cloud-based work tool, Microsoft Teams, a makeover to make it one of the best work collaboration tools in the metaverse. with mixed reality features baked in, people working remotely will be able to join everyday meetings and conferences using their digital 3D avatar.
According to Microsoft spokesperson Alex Kipman, the company has been working on implementing mixed reality features in their work tools for quite some time. He said, “As a company whose focus is on productivity, on knowledge workers, it’s something that customers are really asking us for, and it’s coupled with the vision of mixed reality that we’ve been working on for 12 years. It’s all coming together.”
Microsoft Teams with metaverse-centric mixed reality features will be available in 2022. Companies who are already using Microsoft 365 for Business will be able to use the new features in teams as soon as they get rolled out. And other companies migrating from other cloud storage platforms such as Google Drive to OneDrive and Microsoft 365 for Business collectively will be able to put the new Teams features to their benefit as soon as their subscription for the Microsoft 365 suite starts.
With a discrete full-stack migration tool like CloudFuze, businesses of all sizes will be able to migrate every important data attribute such as sharing permissions, version history, embedded links, timestamps, internal and external shared links, and comments to the destination cloud. And with every company data attribute onboard, companies based across all industries will be able to leverage the new mixed reality features in Microsoft Teams to their competitive advantage in the best ways possible.
Virtual conferences will be more immersive and productivity-focused
According to Microsoft’s official press release, the metaverse-centric mixed reality capabilities in Microsoft Teams will not just be focused on letting remote workers work as the digital avatars. This is because the company is also committed to improving other areas such as meetings and conferences.
There is no denying the fact that every meeting and conference plays a pivotal role in shaping the outcome of the execution of the overall operation teams, even if it means short-term strategy execution. Microsoft is looking forward to helping businesses of all sizes make the most out of regular meetings and conferences with immersive virtual experiences that will take team productivity and operational efficiency to the next level.
One of the biggest improvements in this area will be implementation of holographic models of meeting and conference presentations. For example, team leaders and operations managers will be able to convey the agenda and takeaways of the meeting and conferences in more impactful ways through holographic presentations that will be more insightful than 2D or 3D presentations.
Also, with wearable tech such as smart glasses and virtual reality headsets, people working remotely will be able to join immersive virtual conferences through Microsoft Teams and even explore other aspects of collaboration within the Microsoft metaverse.
Working as digital avatars will be fun and engaging
Microsoft is planning to make the experience of creating digital avatars hassle-free, if anything, the experience will be far from being monotonous or boring. According to Katie Kelly from the Mesh for Teams project, “to start, we will take audio cues so as you talk your face will animate.”
“You’ll also have animations that bring additional expressivity to the avatars. Your hands will move. There will be a feeling of presence even though it’s as simple as being able to take your audio and manifest that as facial expressions. That’s the first release. The ambition is to closely follow that with Microsoft’s plethora of AI technologies so that we can use the camera to insinuate where your mouth is and mimic your head and facial movements.”
In a way, the artificial intelligence technology-based digital avatars of remote workers in Microsoft Teams is speculated to be similar to Apple Animojis in some ways or the other. Regardless, the option to work via one’s digital avatar will surely make remote working significantly fun. This will also help remotely working people to get more creative with their expressions which, in turn, will drive more engagement in internal and client communications.