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Flexible work is here to stay: Microsoft 365 solutions for the hybrid work world

Microsoft have recently published some posts regarding how they see the future of Office working becoming more flexible with a hybrid approach of some staff remaining on Working from Home and some splitting time between the office and home working – Teams and Microsoft 365 being a key part of this.

During the Covid Pandemic, Smooth IT have successfully helped a number of businesses embrace this change with moving them from the ties of On-Site Servers, Storage and Phone systems to fully cloud and Hosted Solutions – Feel free to Contact Us to discuss how Smooth IT can help with your Business IT Needs or wish to discuss moving your current services to the cloud.


“For some people, 2020 felt like the year work and learning moved home. For others, work continued to happen on-site—with the added challenges of staying safe on the job and learning new ways to connect to remote colleagues. But the reality is: 2020 is the year work and learning moved to the cloud.

And it’s clear that flexible work is here to stay: According to research conducted for Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, over 80 percent of managers say they expect more flexible work from home policies post-pandemic, and more than 70 percent of employees say they expect to take advantage of them. So we can anticipate some pretty significant changes in the weeks and months to come.

To thrive in this new hybrid world, people and organizations need solutions that are fluid, dynamic, and cloud-powered.

At Microsoft, we’re building experiences to help everyone thrive in this new hybrid world of work and learning. Today at Microsoft Ignite, we are announcing new features designed for a hybrid world. From new digital event experiences in Microsoft Teams designed for internal and external attendees to new availability announcements about Microsoft Viva, there’s so much to share. If you want to learn about all the great Microsoft Ignite announcements for Microsoft Teams, please read the What’s New in Microsoft Teams | Microsoft Ignite 2021 blog post.

Let’s dive in.

Break down boundaries to make it easy to connect and collaborate across organizations

Now more than ever, rich, engaging digital events are critical for successful collaboration—whether you’re inviting internal participants, external participants, or a combination of the two. We’re introducing new features that make it easier to collaborate across organizations and event sizes. 

Improve collaboration and knowledge management

Microsoft Teams supports a spectrum of communication needs, from small internal meetings to large virtual events. Now with Teams, you can easily organize and conduct interactive webinars for people inside and outside of your organization with up to 1,000 attendees. Webinars include end-to-end experiences—like custom registration, rich presentation options, host controls such as the ability to disable attendee chat and video, and post-event reporting. And if your webinar grows to over 1,000 attendees, Teams will seamlessly scale to accommodate a 10,000-person view-only broadcast experience. Plus, during this time of increased remote work, take advantage of even larger 20,000-person broadcasts through the end of this year. These new event capabilities are included with many of the Office and Microsoft plans your organization uses today!

Showcases easy registration with interactive webinars

Coming soon, new integrations will bring together Teams events with the robust attendee management experiences from Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing. Managing attendee information across Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365 Marketing to nurture attendees before, during, and after the event is now easier than ever before.

And we’re announcing Microsoft Teams Connect, which allows you to share channels with anyone, internal or external to your organization. The shared channel will appear within an individual’s primary Microsoft Teams tenant alongside other teams and channels, making it easy for everyone to access it in their workflow. In the shared workspace, you can leverage Microsoft Teams rich collaboration capabilities: chat, meet, collaborate on apps, share, and co-author documents in real-time. Admins have access to granular controls, allowing their organization to stay in control of how external users access data and information. Microsoft Teams Connect is available today in private preview and will roll out broadly later this calendar year.

GIF showing different screens in Microsoft Teams Connect

Better meetings and presentations for a work-from-anywhere world

With hybrid work and learning, we need meetings that offer a first-rate experience to every participant whether they’re in the room, remote, or on the go. And as education continues to evolve, so does the technology used to enable digital and hybrid classrooms. New experiences in Microsoft Teams help speakers create more impactful, dynamic presentations while connecting with everyone in the meeting more naturally.

Presenters often share their desktops in virtual meetings, creating an inconsistent presentation experience and limiting the ability of the audience to interact. Today, we’re announcing Microsoft PowerPoint Live in Microsoft Teams, which will enable presenters to deliver more impactful and engaging presentations. Presenters will now be able to lead meetings more confidently with notes, slides, meeting chat, and participants all in a single view. Meanwhile, attendees can personalize their experience by privately navigating the content at their own pace or using the screen reader to make content accessible. PowerPoint Live is now available in Teams. Learn more about PowerPoint Live.

Showcases ability for group to interact within presentation

The new Presenter mode empowers presenters to customize how their video feed and content appear to the audience. Our first mode, Standout, shows the speaker’s video feed in front of the shared content. Next, Reporter will show content as a visual aid above the speaker’s shoulder, just like during a news segment. Third, Side-by-side will show the presenter’s video feed alongside their content as they present. Presenter mode will be available soon.

Showcases presenter modes available to customize video feed and content to audience

Today, we are also announcing Dynamic view, which intelligently arranges the elements of your meeting for an optimal viewing experience. As people join, turn on video, start to speak, or begin to present in a meeting, Teams automatically adjusts and personalizes your layout. We’ve also added a new option to place the participant gallery at the top of the meeting window, helping you maintain a natural eye gaze. Dynamic view will be rolling out soon.

Screen of Dynamic View on Teams

New meeting experiences for the hybrid workplace

Historically, meeting rooms were designed to facilitate in-room collaboration. As meetings evolve around hybrid work norms, room experiences must be inclusive so everyone can be seen and heard clearly, and fully participate in the meeting.

We are bringing new gallery views to Microsoft Teams Rooms, including Together Mode and large gallery, to make it easier to see everyone in the meeting. And whether the room has one screen or two, you’ll be able to see meeting content, along with everyone joining from home, at the same time.

Group of people in meeting using Together Mode and Gallery View on Teams

We’re also announcing new Microsoft Teams Intelligent speakers that can identify and differentiate the voices of up to 10 people talking in a Microsoft Teams Room. These speakers were created in partnership with EPOS and Yealink, and allow attendees to use the transcription to follow along or capture actions, by knowing who in the room said what. Whether you are working remotely or following the meeting in the conference room, you can effectively see who said what during the meeting. To enable privacy and security, users are in full control and can turn attribution on or off at any time.

Image of two smart speakers designed to work with Microsoft Teams

We’re expanding our portfolio of devices that users can choose from when building out their home offices. Today, we’re announcing the first monitors certified for Microsoft Teams, the new Dell Video conferencing monitor, and the Poly 21. These new monitors integrate critical conferencing hardware like a microphone, speaker, camera, and light right into the monitor, so employees can simply attach their PC via USB to get started on collaboration and maximizing productivity. The new P15 video bar from Poly is an easy-to-mount peripheral that transforms an existing monitor into a high-quality Teams endpoint. Lastly, the new Cam 130 by Aver integrates lights as well, allowing users to present their best selves in video meetings.

Person looking at meeting occurring on monitor

Ensuring secure communications

To further address our customers’ security and compliance requirements, Teams will support end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for one-to-one Microsoft Teams calls, providing an additional option for conducting sensitive online conversations. IT will have full discretion over who can use E2EE in the organization. E2EE for Microsoft Teams one-to-one ad hoc VoIP calls will be available to commercial customers in preview in the first half of this calendar.

Reimagining the employee experience for a hybrid workplace

As hybrid work models become the norm, reimagining how we nurture employee development and training—along with how we access benefits and wellbeing opportunities for digital workers—becomes critical to success. Last month, we launched Microsoft Viva, our new employee experience platform built to empower people and teams to be their best from anywhere. Powered by the full breadth and depth of Microsoft 365, it is experienced through Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft 365 apps that people use every day. Learn more in our Microsoft Vivaannouncement blog.

Our first module, Viva Connections, gives you a curated, company-branded experience that brings together relevant news, conversations, and other resources. Today, we’re announcing that the desktop experience for Viva Connections is now generally available. Viva Connections will be available to all customers as part of their existing SharePoint license.

Viva Home site screenshot

Viva Insights, now in preview, gives individuals, managers, and leaders personalized and actionable privacy-protected insights that help everyone in an organization thrive. Starting next month, the virtual commute experience we announced last year will begin rolling out as part of the Microsoft Viva Insights app to help you mindfully wrap up your workdays. The new Home tab will also be available next month, providing a seamless way to stay on top of pending tasks, reflect on your feelings, send praise to your colleagues, and take a breathing break anytime during the workday—all without leaving Microsoft Teams. Learn more in our Viva Insights blog.

Viva Home site mobile experience screenshot

Finally, Viva Learning provides a central hub in Microsoft Teams where people can discover, share, recommend, and learn from best-in-class content libraries across the organization—including LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, third-party content providers, and an organization’s own custom content. The Viva Learning app for Microsoft Teams will be entering preview starting in April, and we expect to make it generally available later this year. We encourage you to sign up to learn more about Viva Learning, including further details about new experiences, partner APIs, and preview as they become available.

Viva Home site scroll of learning screenshot

Helping you on your Zero Trust Journey

At Microsoft, our approach to digital safety is unique in our industry because we bring two superpowers to security. The first: an integrated, end-to-end approach. The second: incredible AI and automation. We can use these together to tackle security from all angles, at scale in the cloud—combining security, compliance, identity, and management as an interdependent whole for total protection. Since you can’t stop what you can’t see, we put world-class artificial intelligence (AI) to work for you, analyzing more than eight trillion threat signals every single day to give you enhanced visibility and always-on vigilance that helps catch what others miss.

We build these protections into our platforms for a seamless experience that won’t slow users down or stifle business innovation. This week at Microsoft Ignite, we are making several important announcements across all of these areas to help you on your Zero Trust journey. A few quick highlights include:

  • Co-authoring of documents protected with Microsoft Information Protection. This enables multiple users to work simultaneously on protected documents while taking advantage of the built-in, intelligent, unified, and extensible protection for documents and emails across Microsoft 365 apps. 
  • Threat Analytics in Microsoft 365 Defender. Now in preview, the new Threat Analytics provides a set of reports from expert Microsoft security researchers that help you understand, prevent, and mitigate active threats, like the Solorigate attacks, directly within Microsoft 365 Defender.
  • Passwordless authentication is now generally available for cloud and hybrid environments. Now you can deliver a more secure, seamless sign-in experience for all employees where they no longer need to enter passwords to sign in and access data. Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) passwordless supports sign-ins with biometrics or a tap using Windows Hello for Business, the Microsoft Authenticator app, or a compatible FIDO2 security key from Microsoft Intelligent Security Association partners such as Yubico, Feitian, and AuthenTrend. You can customize policies for different users, groups, and types of credentials and track your progress with new reporting tools. With Temporary Access Pass, now in preview, you can generate a time-limited code to set up or recover a passwordless credential.

But there’s so much more. Please check out the Security blog post from my colleague Vasu Jakkal, Corporate Vice President of Security, Compliance, and Identity, for all security announcements.

Also new to Microsoft 365 

Last year, we announced our Microsoft 365 cloud print solution, Universal Print, which offers simple and secure printing in zero-trust environments. Now generally available, Universal Print enables workers with workplace-joined Windows devices to easily discover printers based on location and print without installing any additional software. Later this summer, users will also be able to print documents from the OneDrive for Business web experience on any device using the browser of their choice. Learn why other customers and partners value the solution in our Universal Print blog.

To help customers meet data residency requirements, Microsoft 365 Multi-Geo allows customers to provision and store data at rest in the geographic locations they’ve specified. We are announcing that Microsoft 365 Multi-Geo will be extended to include Microsoft Teams, allowing organizations to specify where their Teams customer data is stored down to the team and end-user. Microsoft Teams support for Multi-Geo will be rolling out in Spring 2021.

From physical spaces to digital solutions to employee experiences—we’re working alongside our customers to reimagine work and learning for a hybrid world. While we’re always so happy to share our latest innovations with you, we know that this is just the beginning. We can’t wait to share more with you in the weeks and months to come. “

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2021/03/02/flexible-work-is-here-to-stay-microsoft-365-solutions-for-the-hybrid-work-world/