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Together Mode for better engagement in Microsoft Teams

Together Mode for better engagement in Microsoft Teams

How many video team meetings do you have per week? I bet it’s at least one right now, especially as we all continue to stay safe and enjoy the flexibility of working from home and staying connected virtually.

But are you starting to get a little bit of video meeting fatigue? Me too and it sounds like Microsoft have been listening by working hard to improve our video meetings to increase engagement and provide a better sense of connection with our colleagues.

It’s called ‘Together Mode’ and it’s looking to be released soon.

The idea behind it is that rather than appearing on screen in a grid box format, you’ll see everyone together sat in a theatre type setting. Microsoft says it touches on their ‘latest scientific understandings of cognition, social perception, and communication’ – all aimed to improve our meeting productivity during this pandemic.

By seeing colleagues in this new view, you’re said to feel more relaxed and more understanding of everyone’s opinions, picking up on when perhaps quieter individuals might want to add comment. Ultimately it’s designed to help you become more aware of shared business goals.

As many organisations are now enjoying the benefits of Office 365, which of course includes Microsoft Teams, it’s great to hear that this app is continuing to be developed with the challenges of the pandemic in mind. Plus, Together Mode, is just one of their planned additions for the Autumn release, so watch this space.

However, Together Mode is NOT going to work for every virtual meeting. We’ve outlined below when this feature isn’t going to work to save you finding out the hard way…

When you need to share content 

Whether this be via a physical white board at your location or via a power point presentation or any page on your desktop. If sharing content is a big part of your meeting, the feature isn’t yet optimised for it, so best stick to the original video format.

When you’re moving around 

If you need to be walking or moving around to show colleagues your environment, this feature just won’t work. It’s designed to focus on you, not the environment in which you’re in. You can try it, but it’ll look like you’re just jumping in and out of your seat, which will be very distracting for your colleagues.

If you’re joining on your mobile

This feature works best with big screens. It can work on a mobile device but you’d have to keep looking straight ahead with the camera propped up pointing directing right at you. Possible, but a bit of a faff.

Another thing to note on camera angle is if you have multiple screens and you’re used to being seen side on as you keep on top of emails and messages on your main screen, this wont work great either with Together Mode. Ideally you need to be head on to the camera, looking straight ahead.

For very large meetings

At present Together Mode supports meetings of up to 49 people. It can accommodate more, but it may not work so well, depending on the type of meeting you’re having.

Another tip, if you have a few employees who prefer to keep the camera off during Team calls, try to encourage them to try turn it on for this feature. It will still work turned off, but everyone will get more out of it by being physically visible.

Our Conclusion on Together Mode 

What we’d suggest when this new feature gets released is just to try it out. There’s no extra charge so it’ll either work for your business or it wont and you may find it offers exactly the increased connection your team were looking for.

It may feel strange initially, and we’re sure it’ll cause a few laughs as people get used to this new group view, but during these tough times, anything that can improve employee engagement, attentiveness and the feeling of connection, we reckon will be very welcomed by all.

If you’ve not yet explored the benefits of Office 365 or Teams and want some advice, just give us a call on 01392 207 194 today and we’d be happy to help.



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