Microsoft Teams has become seriously popular among students and office workers over the past six months, and for good reason. Now, Microsoft is preparing to make it even better with a host of exciting features that it announced at its Ignite 2020 conference. The standout features include a renewed focus on mental health via mediation breaks, virtual commutes, and work habits.
Commuting has taken a huge hit ever since COVID-19 became a thing, and while not many people miss the typically hectic travelling to and from their workplace, Microsoft feels that people should be able to enjoy the benefits of commuting even while working remotely. In fact, Microsoft Research studies found that “the reflection typically done during that time can increase productivity by 12-15%.”
So yes, taking the bus to work must have been an annoying for you, but it also allowed you to think about your work and plan ahead.
Thus, in the first half of 2021, users will be able to utilize a new Teams feature that will enable them to schedule a virtual commute at the start and end of their day.
“What we’re finding is that that commute experience — it’s good for it not to be too long, but it did play a role in helping us clear our heads,” Microsoft 365 corporate vice president Jared Spataro said in a press briefing.
“This virtual commute experience allows you to take a step back, again going into and coming out of your day to just organize your thoughts and to make sure you’re really processing, doing some pre- and post-processing of your work. It turns out the research shows us that can be very helpful,” he added.
Moreover, Microsoft has partnered up with Headspace to introduce a curated set of mindfulness and meditation exercises into Teams. The company believes that this feature will be key in improving employees’ and students’ mood and mental health after a long, stressful day of work.
According to Spataro, you can “either schedule a meditation as part of your virtual commute or as part of a mindfulness break throughout the day.”
“We think that’s going to be really powerful. … After just four sessions using the Headspace app, one group of health care professionals experienced a reduction of burnout of 14%. And another study with a broader population: 30 days of Headspace resulted in a 32% decrease in stress. So there are clear indications that these types of things can really make a big difference,” he said.