For March updates, the main focus is on helping Microsoft 365 (previously known as Office 365) users to easily and effectively work from home amid the COVID-19 outbreak by making use of Microsoft Teams. This way, users can stay productive while helping to flatten the curve.
Let’s see what the updates have in store for its users.
Collaborating remotely is probably how 90% of employees function right now. This is where Microsoft Teams is a real winner among company teams.
Teams had its third anniversary in March and brought out a few exciting new features to celebrate. Some features include:
- Improved audio quality during meetings
- Targeted communications for first-line workers by using the Shifts app in Teams
- Teams and Skype consumer Interop capabilities
We’ll discuss them in more detail below:
Improved Audio Quality
Microsoft has fixed the poor audio quality when holding meetings where there’s a weak WiFi or cell connection.
With the new algorithmic improvement to the Teams app, including reduced data packet loss, your company will experience a better, smoother audio quality during meetings where there is a weak connection or congested e-networks.
Packet Loss Resiliency
What is packet loss? It occurs when one or more data packets that are traveling across computer networks, fail to reach their final destination.
When meetings over Teams are held with a poor WiFi or cellular connection, a high packet loss can cause the call experience to be of poor quality.
With the new improvements to Microsoft Teams, you’ll have Crystal clear audio quality, even in networks where there’s 50% packet loss.
What does this mean for admins?
Kronos Central Integration
Users that support organisations with first-line demands are now able to use Kronos Workforce Central Integration available within the Shifts application in Microsoft Teams.
For those of you not yet fully knowledgeable about the feature, Kronos is a suite of tools and services specifically designed to manage your employees. It also provides other services that are appropriate for human resource management.
With version 8.1 of the Kronos tool, users are able to integrate it with the Shifts app available in Teams. The tool can be used for the following scenarios:
- View a schedule
- Publish request open shifts
- Swap shifts
- Request time off
- Offer a shift
The integration between Teams and Kronos allows your organisation to support your first-line end-users in the above-mentioned situations. It also enables your employees to make use of the cloud features available in Teams right from their desktop or smartphone without having to switch context to a different application.
Targeted Communications - Shifts
Another feature available to support first-line employees — targeted communications in Shifts.
For the first-line managers in your organisation that use the Shifts app, can now manually create @ mention tags to help organise employee-based attributes, including:
This allows them to contact those with the same attributes all at once.
If managers want to send a message to “on-call technicians”, they can create this @ mention tag, then use it within a new chat or channel post. The @ mention will ensure all the relevant people see the message.
This feature helps end-users quickly communicate the news without having to figure out who is or isn’t on shift.
First-line workers are automatically assigned to @ mention tags appropriate to their shifts which allow for integration with various other workforce management systems.
Teams and Skype Interop Capabilities
Businesses that make use of Teams are now able to find and communicate with customers as well as partners via the Skype consumer app. They are able to communicate across all clients including desktop, web, Android, and iOS.
The new interoperability allows users to use the Teams app to chat and make calls (audio and video) with Skype users. This can be done by searching for their email address and vice versa.
Safety & Security
Teams users can also choose to accept or decline first-time conversations with Skype users and block them on block contacts if needed.
Raise hands in Teams Meetings
You probably know what a mess it can become when a meeting is held and everyone wants to add something. The new “raise hands” feature in Teams will help a lot during these meetings to prevent chaos.
The feature allows attendees to let others know they wish to speak, by allowing everyone to see a visual cue on the attendee’s video feed and the meeting’s participation list.
As you can see, Microsoft decided to keep it short and sweet for their March updates, but hopefully, you can make use of the great new features above to ensure you continue to work hard, even from home.