According to Microsoft, 66% of employees want more in-person time with colleagues but one of the challenges for employees is that when they decide to go into the office, they’re not sure who else is going to be in that day. Microsoft Places is a new offering intended to help businesses get the most out of their office space. It gives employees the ability to book a meeting space in the office and pick the most appropriate meeting room for their needs. It gives people insights as to who else is planning to come in that day and it looks like it will have options for booking desks. The other interesting feature is the analytics - you'll be able to get data and insights into which parts of the office are being used and which are not. This could give companies the data they need to reduce some of their office space and save costs. This new proposition is very timely because in 2023 a big theme for most organizations will be a rethink of the office space; how to balance the needs of the hybrid worker with maintaining an organization's working culture, and keeping control of real estate costs.
Mesh for Teams
Microsoft has been talking about the Metaverse for some time, leading the way in mixed reality experiences with products like HoloLens. Now we see Mesh for Teams, which allows Teams users to represent themselves virtually with an avatar. You will soon be able to join Teams meetings with your own personalized avatar instead of turning on your camera. No more presentations to a room full of still photographs of the attendees -now you'll be presenting to a room full of moving, talking cartoon representations. The Ignite session that focused on this topic was a subject of much debate among the participants. Those of us who are from Generation X were perhaps a little skeptical of this new feature, and whether it might be a barrier to that human connection that so many of us need when working remotely. But Microsoft does their homework when it comes to research and it's clear that for the younger millennials and Generation Z workers, avatars are a perfectly natural way to interact with other human beings. Expect this to become an interesting topic of debate in your organization when this feature becomes more widely available.
Cisco Devices for Teams
A big announcement was that Cisco will be launching Microsoft Teams devices in 2023. We all know that Cisco has a longstanding rivalry with Microsoft so it's great to see these two tech giants working together for the greater good in the hybrid workplace. This is great for customers, giving them even more choice of device, especially for customers who already buy their equipment from Cisco.